Responding to drought: Kenya prepares a strategic approach to access GCF finance


Demonstrating its ability to adapt to changing contexts, the National Designated Authority (NDA), the National Treasury, called upon multiple Kenyan stakeholders to streamline efforts to address the core drivers of the drought

Kenya is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather – between 2008-2011, a devastating drought ravaged East Africa, affecting the north of Kenya, and causing a famine in neighbouring Somalia. In late 2016, a drought was declared again in northern Kenya, leaving millions facing extreme hunger. Demonstrating its ability to adapt to changing contexts, the National Designated Authority (NDA), the National Treasury, called upon multiple Kenyan stakeholders employing various, complex, and divergent responses to the drought, to streamline efforts to address the core drivers of the drought, in one comprehensive and transformational project proposal.

In doing so, the NDA worked closely with the National Drought Management Authority, Ministry of Livestock, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to develop a programmatic approach to address the climate change-related needs of the country, in line with Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, where drought response is a top priority. 

This feat should not be underestimated. The NDA’s role in any country is to coordinate the national efforts to access finance from the Green Climate Fund. This is often a complex political process, which in countries where financial resources are in short supply, is imperative to have government leadership to steer project proposals until successfully submitted to the Fund. Kenya’s ability to bring together these actors, especially during a crisis situation, to develop a new project which will benefit the most vulnerable population in the country, cannot be overstated.

The new project, to be submitted by IUCN to the GCF in October 2017, focuses on synergized long-term, ecosystem-based, and landscape interventions to tackle climate-induced drought and disaster risks.

This project, focusing on 13 counties in three different regions, Northern, lower Eastern and Coast, is of particular importance as rain-fed agriculture is the bedrock of Kenya’s economy, yet it is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Three quarters of all Kenyans live in rural areas; most depend on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. Droughts and floods are increasingly frequent in its northern drylands, which further increases the vulnerability of populations living in these areas – about 7.7 million Kenyans – who mainly practice pastoralism and have insecure livelihoods. 

“Kenya’s pastoralists are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and this project will help provide more stable livelihoods for them and enable them to become more resilient to the effects of climate change,” said Fatuma Hussein, national coordinator of the UN Environment/UNDP/WRI Green Climate Fund Readiness Programme in Kenya. 

The UN Environment/UNDP/WRI Green Climate Fund Readiness Programme supported the NDA in bringing together the various stakeholders, providing technical advice in regards the Green Climate Fund’s policies, helping them to hedge their investment by addressing the country’s key priorities in line with the GCF investment criteria and by offering a neutral platform where the various stakeholders could gain access to the information they needed to make informed decisions about  accessing GCF finance.

The Programme also supports National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya’s direct access entity, in designing bankable projects for GCF and developing the baseline studies needed.

To ensure effective implementation of the priority projects under development in Kenya, the Programme is supporting capacity assessments and training of the relevant executing entities of such projects, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA). Additionally, for coherent engagements on the GCF, the Government is now preparing Kenya’s GCF Strategy. The Strategy is critical to ensure a nationally-driven and collaborative approach towards GCF project proposal development.

Photo: Russell Watkins/DFID 


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The Programme delivers support modules in four different areas based on needs, strategies and priorities identified by each country.