Livelihoods under climate variability and change: An analysis of the adaptive capacity of rural poor to water scarcity in Kenya’s drylands

Rainfall, which is the main source of water in Kenya’s drylands areas, shows very high spatial and temporal variability. Crop, forage and livestock production closely follow rainfall trends thus putting livelihoods of a number of households at risk. This study was carried out by administering questionnaires to agropastoral households in Kibwezi district of Kenya. Most (98%) of the respondents mentioned increased dry conditions occasioned by recurrent droughts as the main unusual climatic events. In response to climate variability, the households had developed both short and long term adaptive mechanisms which included planting of drought tolerant and early maturing crops, early or dry planting, water harvesting through range pits and roof catchments and run-off harvesting.
Les précipitations, qui sont la principale source d’eau dans les zones arides du Kenya, montrent de très fortes variabilités spatiales et temporelles. La production de la cultures, de fourragère et l’élevage suit de près les tendances des précipitations mettant ainsi les moyens de subsistance d’un certain nombre de ménages à risque. Cette étude a été réalisée en administrant des questionnaires aux ménages agro-pastoraux dans le district de Kibwezi du Kenya. La plupart (98%) des répondants ont mentionné que l’augmentation des conditions sèches, occasionné par des sécheresses récurrentes ont été les principaux événements climatiques inhabituels. En réponse à la variabilité du climat, les ménages ont développé à la fois à court et à long terme des mécanismes d’adaptation qui comprennent la plantation de tolérantes à la sécheresse et de plantes à maturité précoce, des semis précoces ou à sec, récupération de l’eau par des puits et des bassins versants du toit large et le ruissellement de récolte.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Conferences and Workshops
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Access restriction: 
Printed resource

"The 2010 RUFORUM Biennial Conference was the second in the series. The main objective of the Biennial conferences is to provide a platform for agricultural research for development stakeholders in Africa and beyond to actively exchange findings and experiences, while at the same time learning lessons towards improving performance of the agricultural sector and ultimately people’s livelihoods. The biennial conference is RUFORUM’s most comprehensive meeting for the diversity of stakeholers in agriculture. It is especially dedicated to graduate students and their supervisors, grantees in RUFORUM member universities and alumni. It is a platform for peer review, quality control, mentorship, networking and shared learning. This record contains an extended abstract accepted under the theme climate change".