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Food Security

Limited adaptive capacity is frequently cited as a major factor in Africa’s high vulnerability to climate change and food security. This has often resulted into calls for increased efforts aimed at strengthening food security adaptive capacity of local communities. It is imperative that researchers, policy makers, and development professionals collectively develop strategies for reducing vulnerability and their associated adverse impacts on food security and livelihoods.

Against this backdrop, the Center in collaboration with other institutions including Kenyatta University, NEMA, Practical Action and Foodlink Resources initiated a project entitled, "Enhancing Adaptive Capacity of Pastoralists to Climate Change-induced Vulnerability in Northern Kenya." The overall objective of the project is to generate local knowledge to enhance community and national capacity to adapt to climate change and need for diverse food sources among vulnerable communities in pastoralist areas and provide policy-makers, local pastoralists’ communities and other stakeholders in Turkana and Mandera districts with information and tools to better understand, analyze and form policies that will allow them to develop effective strategies to adapt to climate change.

On-going Project

Enhancing Adaptive Capacity of Pastoralists to Climate Change-induced Vulnerability in Northern Kenya

This research project was launched in January 2008. The project has continued to generate information and knowledge to guide adaptation strategies for pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya (Mandera and Turkana districts) including livelihood adaptation. The information generated would also assist the Kenya Government to formulate evidence-based policies in its national development plans.

Preliminary Findings (Mandera case study site)

  1. Livelihoods
    • Pastoralism is still a dominant livelihood strategy for communities in Northern Kenya. Although there is a trend towards diversification of livelihood sources.
    • Sources of income are varied depending on their attempt at diversification and also on household kinship support systems and community social networks.
    • Drought occurrence has increased in terms of severity and frequency (every five years instead of ten years in the past). Droughts have a major negative impact on livelihoods especially food security which are still primarily pastoralist. Attempts towards diversification of livelihoods seem to reduce the vulnerability to severs climate change such as prolonged drought and heavy floods. Floods do not have a severe impact on livelihoods in Mandera and Turkana compared to droughts although they still impact negatively on livelihoods.


The project is being undertaken jointly by Practical Action, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Foodlink Resources, Kenyatta University, Maseno University (RESTECH Center). The project is generally funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC).

Prof. Wellington Otieno,
Co-Principal Investigator,
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