Energy enabling green development and recovery in Kitui County, Kenya

IIED and partners are strengthening the Kitui County government’s capacity for co-creating energy plans and designs with communities. The project focuses on emissions reductions and resilience in agriculture and livestock, and the additional barriers that female farmers face to success.

July 2021 - July 2022
Kevin Johnstone

Senior researcher, Shaping Sustainable Markets

Transforming energy systems
A programme of work focused on equitable energy driving climate-resilient communities
A group of men and women wearing masks stand around a device being demonstrated by a man.

Participants interact with a technician from Mwezi Solar, who is demonstrating an egg incubator (Photo: copyright Kelvin Kitonga, Caritas Kitui)

In Kenya, IIED, Loughborough University and Caritas Kitui, the Catholic Diocese of Kitui, have worked with the Kitui County government to develop their mandated County Energy Plan

Building on that work, and funded by UK PACT, this project will see partners implement the Energy Delivery Models (EDM) participatory process with communities to identify and differentiate the priority needs and the barriers facing men and women (including those experiencing intersectional marginalisation) within two value chains: horticulture and poultry.

With the needs and barriers identified, the partners will work with the Kitui County government to co-develop green energy initiatives to boost farmer incomes - especially female farmers – and mitigate emissions from fossil fuel generators.

The initiatives will revolve around solar-powered irrigation for agriculture and solar-powered incubators for poultry. The horticulture and poultry sectors have been selected because communities themselves prioritised them under previous EDM processes.

For example, women's groups expressed keen interest in expanding further into poultry as they see an opportunity to generate more income in that market. But simply deploying technology is not enough to adequately support livelihoods. The project will identify ways to incorporate financing for households, training on equipment use, and links to buyers and markets to sell produce and chickens.

The partners, communities and government will use the EDM process to co-design initiatives that will provide resilience against climate impacts while being financially and socially sustainable – the types of solutions that will attract progressive government programmes and investors. 

The lessons from this work in Kitui County will feed into a separate national initiative to strengthen capacity on energy design and delivery for all of Kenya's counties.

What is IIED doing?

IIED and partners will:

  • Gather and analyse data on horticulture and poultry value chains and markets to co-design viable business models, based on needs and aspirations expressed by farmers
  • Implement the EDM process with project partners and Kitui County Government through a series of workshops and ongoing discussions
  • Strengthen the capacity of county government, local civil society organisations, and companies to co-design and implement initiatives that establish greater resilience by using the EDM process as a framework to learn by
  • Analyse policies and the wider enabling environment to co-develop recommendations with government to support these farmer initiatives
  • Map potential funding and financing that could be invested in the green farmer initiatives developed within this project, and establish relationships that can channel those investments
  • Produce publications that highlight lessons and recommendations for government, practitioners, and companies working in agriculture and livestock
  • Run regional dialogues with the ACCESS Coalition to share lessons across the region

Energy enabling green development in Kitui County

In September 2023 a short film was released showing how new opportunities can be kickstarted for small-scale female farmers through energy use and moving forward a locally-driven county energy plan to implementation –  and how Kitui is leading the way. Watch the film below or on IIED's YouTube channel.

Communities in Kitui County, Kenya are co-designing business cases for irrigated horticulture and poultry value chains — using renewable energy technologies such as solar irrigated pumps — and thinking about ways to scale it up (Video: IIED)