Local Adaptation and National Climate Change Policy in Kenya: Discrepancies, Options, and the Way Forward

J Schilling, Elise Remling

Research output: Working paper


Droughts are not a recent phenomenon in Kenya. For centuries, pastoralists and farmers have adjusted their livelihoods to periods of resource scarcity. However, the combination of unsustainable resources use, inadequate national policies and intensifying climate change threaten to overwhelm the existing adaptive capabilities. This paper focuses on local adaptation, national climate change policy and their interaction. The following three questions are addressed. First, what adaptation options do pastoralists and agro-pastoralists have and which do they actually adopt? Second, do state policies strengthen local adaptation or do they cause the opposite? Third, how can discrepancies between national and local adaptation strategies be overcome in theory and what is actually feasible? Local options of adaptation strongly depend on the specific socio economic, cultural and geographical context. While the engagement into tourism can be an attractive source of (additional) income for the Masai in Kajiado (southern Kenya), this would be an unfeasible change of lifestyle for the Turkana in northern Kenya. The paper discusses such options, based on own field research conducted in one pastoral and one agro-pastoral community in Kenya. These findings are compared with the effects of national policies. In the past, pastoral communities – already socially vulnerably – have been disadvantaged by the government giving privilege to farming communities and wildlife conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHamburg
PublisherUniversity of Hamburg
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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