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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Climate Change Ambassadors Improve Livelihoods and Climate Resilience in Kenya’s ASAL Counties

In Kenya, the impact of climate change has been very clear this year. Normally the country experiences long rains between December and April, but there has been no rain for the last five months, resulting in extreme drought. Local communities are experiencing famine, and their traditional occupations cannot sustain them, and some contribute to worsening climate change.

CID's Agile and Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions (AHADI) project, funded by USAID that was started in June 2016 has helped mitigate the effects by training vulnerable communities in Kenya’s arid counties on how to expand their livelihood sources beyond livestock herding and therefore adapt to a changing climate. The Pastoralists Community Climate Resilience Programme managed by the National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK), worked with local communities Turkana, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties.

The project recruited and trained a team of local community members to become Climate Change Ambassadors galvanizing communities and local government. Climate Change Ambassadors take small practical measures towards environmental conservation, inspiring their neighbours to follow suit. They also develop community action plans to support climate mitigating actions.

Echwa Lomunyongilo

Echwa Lomunyongilo of Kamotile Women Group derives income from a range of products (hats, mats, trays and baskets) made from doom palm. Photo Credit - Teddy Chenya

"Our communities used to make and sell charcoal to feed our families", says Echwa Lomunyongilo, resident of Turkana County in Northern Kenya. Now, Echwa and others in her community have developed new occupations. The project helped set up two women’s groups, Kamotile and Adakar Peace, assisting members to increase their earnings through sustainable activities. The women now derive income by weaving a range of products (hats, mats, trays and baskets) made from doom palm that thrives along River Turkwell and its tributaries.

In Echwa's words: "I found the NCCK training quite useful. It jolted us into action. It made us realize the potential within us, to use local resources within our reach to adapt to a changing climate. Previously, we had ears but could not hear. We had eyes but could not see. We had noses but could not smell. We heard mouths but could not speak. Now we women are happily supporting our spouses in fending for our families."

The women's groups remain proactive in seeking partnerships to grow the business further. One such responsive partner is the County Government of Turkana, which has allocated the group resources to enable construction of a storage and display structure, thus furthering the weaving business. The county also gave two (2) greenhouses to Adakar Peace Women for growing vegetables in Kainuk.

In Isiolo, local vicar, Reverend Peter Ekai, is a Climate Change Ambassador. He spends most of his time in church, and uses the opportunity to sensitize the community and congregants in Ngaremara Parish on the need to de-stock just before the onset of extremely dry seasons, and to invest the proceeds in other income generating activities. By so doing, community members in Ngaremara are investing in contemporary business, including in the transport sector during low production seasons, and returning to livestock farming during the wet seasons.

"I took the training by NCCK in 2016 on how climate change is affecting the environment and measures to take mitigating effects. I then used the church Parish Councils to disseminate the information to the congregation in Ngaremara Ward for the residents to plant trees and stop cutting of trees for charcoal" – Reverend Peter Ekai Kamaro (Climate Change Ambassador, Isiolo)

The NCCK projected was completed in 2018, but its impact remains visible amongst community members in Turkana, Isiolo and Marsabit.

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted April 30, 2019