Responding to climate change in Kenya by strengthening dryland governance and planning

The Kenya Adaptation Consortium (ADA) is demonstrating that local climate adaptation planning, supported by county government-managed devolved funds, informed by community priorities and enhanced by climate information services, renders significant benefits for people in poor and marginalised households in the most drought prone areas.

July 2013 - ongoing
Florence Crick

Senior researcher, IIED's Climate Change group

Mobilising money to where it matters
A programme of work helping to initiate a positive shift in the quantity and quality of climate finance reaching the local level to support locally-led solutions that address climate change, poverty and biodiversity loss
A man herds goats amid the dust

A young Maasai herder sees a future in pastoralism (Photo:

The work in Kenya is part of a wider programme underpinned by shared principles and a common approach to devolving climate finance to the local level.

County governments in Kenya are responsible for managing their own affairs, promoting social and economic development according to the priorities and needs of their citizens. They have authority to pass their own laws, raise revenue, establish policies, plan and budget (as long as this does not conflict with national laws and policies).

The national government is designing and implementing policy frameworks for mitigating and adapting to climate change. While these frameworks are aligned with national development priorities, they also need to be consistent with the provisions within the constitution and county government legislation to make sure citizens are able to participate in decision making. 

Mainstreaming climate into the public finance management system

In 2013 Kenya's National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) established the Adaptation Consortium (ADA) to support the mainstreaming of climate adaptation into both national and county level planning, piloting a devolved climate finance mechanism to achieve this.

Initially piloted in Isiolo County from 2011-13, under the then Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands, the NDMA, with the technical support of ADA, has expanded the pilot to the arid and semi-arid counties of Kitui, Makueni, Wajir and Garissa, which together represent approximately 29 per cent of Kenya's land area.

In 2016, Wajir County, and in 2015, Makueni County, passed legislation to formalise the mechanism, known as County Climate Change Funds (CCCF), creating the legal basis for counties to receive climate finance from both international and domestic sources.

An annual minimum of 2 per cent of the country development budget will capitalise the funds in Wajir – 1 per cent in Makueni. There are a lot of potential opportunities for counties with CCCF legislation to link up with the National Climate Fund, administered by the Kenyan Treasury.

What is IIED doing?

As a member of the wider community of practice, IIED is supporting ADA to test the effectiveness of the devolved climate finance mechanism for building resilience. As well as informing policies and action in Kenya, lessons from the pilot are informing policies and action in Kenya and being applied in Mali, Senegal and Tanzania.  

IIED's action-research works to improve the alignment between national and county government priorities, making sure climate change adaptation is included in county and national development planning.

Members of ADA include: 

What is the devolved climate finance mechanism?

The mechanism piloted in Kenya has four core components:

  • The fund itself, the County Climate Change Fund: as has been seen in Wajir and Makueni, this establishes a legal mechanism to channel climate finance held at the national level to the county level, consistent with the principles of devolution enshrined in the constitution.
  • County and ward-level adaptation committees responsible for the prioritisation of CCCF expenditure: to ensure the majority of climate finance reaches vulnerable communities at the local level, the mechanism stipulates that 70 per cent of the fund is prioritised to fund investments in public goods chosen by communities through lower-level Ward Climate Change Planning Committees (WCCPC). 

    Of the remaining balance, 20 per cent is prioritised by a county-level climate change committee for county-wide investments, while 10 per cent covers the costs of managing the funds.
  • Resilience planning tools including climate information: the adaptation committees at ward and county level use these to prioritise investments in public goods that address current variability and climate extremes. Tools to enable planning committees to address more radical climate change in the future will be developed in the next phase of work. CCCF-funded investments are thus planned with climate change in mind.|
  • Monitoring and evaluation tools based on the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development framework: these enable county government and communities to track and assess the outcomes of adaptation interventions. 

    The NDMA plans to apply lessons from this work across Kenya's arid and semi-arid lands and ensure drylands become an integral part of climate change adaptation policy and relief, including attracting national and international 'climate finance' for locally-defined climate-resilient growth.

What is happening now?

The objective of the next phase of work from August 2018 is to build national and local capabilities for effective climate action, learning from the CCCF experience to prepare for their expansion country wide.

Communicating the impact of this work

ADA has made many short videos to document impact. They can be found on the ADA website, but recent work includes a video showing the difference community-prioritised investments have made to villagers in the pilot counties

ADA's work also featured on Kenyan TV in April 2017.

Additional resources

Video presentation: Water development in the drylands (June 2021)

Hope at last for drylands, Daily Nation (June 2017)

For women in Kenya's dry north, water is power, Thomson Reuters Foundation (June 2017)

Climate change adaptation: Kenya goes local with a bottom-up approach, IRIN (March 2017)

Institutionalising adaptation monitoring and evaluation frameworks: Kenya, Irene Karani, Simon Anderson and Nyachomba Kariuki (2014) IIED Briefing paper

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development in Kenya, Irene Karani, Nyachomba Kariuki and Fatima Osman (2014), IIED Research report

Institutionalising adaptation monitoring and evaluation frameworks: Kenya, Irene Karani, Simon Anderson and Nyachomba Kariuki (2014) IIED Briefing paper

Maps that build bridges, Ced Hesse (2013), IIED Reflect & Act

Participatory digital map-making in arid areas of Kenya and Tanzania, Tom Rowley (2013), IIED, excerpt from Participatory Learning and Action 66

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development, Nick Brooks, Simon Anderson, Jessica Ayers, Ian Burton and Ian Tellam (2011), IIED Working paper