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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Matwiku climate change vulnerability study assessment

By Bob Aston
Climate change has been cited as one of the greatest threats in the history of development efforts to ending poverty and social injustices in the world. Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on climate change adaptation organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) at Beisa Hotel, Nanyuki, Laikipia County, Mr. Eric Kisiangani, a freelance consultant said that impacts of climate change are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities among communities and counties that are less endowed with capacities to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts.
Mr. Kisiangani presented a climate change vulnerability study assessment report of Matwiku area, Laikipia West. He said the case study report is generated from climate change vulnerability assessments as part of the project: “Strengthening Community Resilience to Impacts of Climate Change and Stewardship of Natural Resources in Baringo, Kajiado and Laikipia Counties of Kenya” which has been funded by Act! Change! Transform! (ACT).
Mr. Kisiangani presenting the vulnerability study
“The purpose of the assessment is to identify and analyse current climate change vulnerabilities, as well as the anticipated near-term climate conditions and potential vulnerabilities in Matwiku,” said Mr. Kisiangani
Some of the stakeholders present during the meeting included; The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), The International Small Group Tree Planting Program (TIST-Kenya), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Ministry of Environment Water and Natural Resources representation from both the national and county government of Laikipia, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Laikipia County Assembly Agriculture, Environment and Water committee.
Others included; Laikipia County departments of Irrigation, Veterinary and Development Planning, Pure Circle Kenya Ltd, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society and Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group.
Mr. Kisiangani noted that climate changes affects ecosystem structures and functions with significant consequences on water availability, land productivity and vegetation resources. He said these changes in turn are adversely affecting human land-use and livelihoods and have the potential to make local communities more vulnerable.
He said that the purpose of the assessment included;  Assessing the current vulnerabilities and capacity of communities in the project site in terms of knowledge and practice to minimize the impact of climate change, assess the vulnerability status of farming groups and irrigation technologies as well as marketing strategies in use, assess and analyse County documents with a view to determine the extent to which they are aligned with national climate change policies and to identify gaps in adaptation strategies.
He noted that the vulnerability study was conducted in Matwiku as a result of ALIN’s decision to work with Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group in piloting a project on Climate Smart Agriculture in the area.
He said that a total of twenty (20) households were interviewed when coming up with the study. He noted that communities living in Matwiku cultivate small parcels of land under both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture for subsistence and cash purposes. Crops cultivated include; beans, maize, potatoes, sorghum, fruit trees and horticulture. Local households also keep small numbers of livestock which may include cattle, sheep, goats, donkey and poultry for meat and milk requirements.
“Communities living in Matwiku have access to a range of livelihood opportunities and resources like high water table, rich soils and enterprising youths,” said Mr. Kisiangani.
Members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers S.H.G laying out drip irrigation pipes
He said that communities in Matwiku have come up with a number of coping strategies to reduce vulnerability to climate shocks. These include; mixing long cycle crops and short cycle crops and also determining type of crops to plant based on rain seasons.
He noted that most of the residents are of the opinion that over the past 10-15 years, climate-related factors have drastically changed in the area. About 80 percent of the respondents recorded that temperatures had increased. While over 60 percent of the respondents noted that incidents of drought had increased. Other climatic factors that had changed included seasonal shifts, heavy rainfall and storm floods.
He noted that youths in Matwiku are involved in a variety of livelihood sources including setting up of small businesses in places like Kinamba. He said that the reasons for youth engagement in livelihood diversification has been caused by drought, unpredictable rainfall, decreasing family landholdings and frequent destruction of crops by wildlife from adjacent parks and ranches.
“High levels of rainfall and storm floods are perceived to be the major climate change impacts in the project area. Heavy rainfall damages the current fragile transport infrastructure and cuts off local villages from the outside world,” said Mr. Kisiangani.
The climate of the site is influenced by two water masses – Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria in the neighbouring Baringo County. The site’s hydrology also benefits from the influence of Ol-Pajeta swamp.

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