Recurring disasters, particularly droughts and floods, have significantly impacted livelihoods and economic development in Kenya. Flood and drought events are becoming more frequent, with drought cycles occurring every 2-3 years instead of every 5-7 years. A severe and prolonged drought from 2008–2011 affected 3.7 million people, caused $12.1 billion in damages and losses, and totaled over $1.7 billion in recovery and reconstruction needs, according to a GFDRR-supported post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).
Agriculture and livestock, the sectors most heavily impacted by drought, are also the main sources of livelihood for nearly 80 percent of Kenyans. Population growth, urbanization, and increasing demand for energy and water compound Kenya’s drought and flood risk.
The Government of Kenya has taken steps to advance disaster risk management (DRM). These include:
- Developing Vision 2030, a national development strategy for 2008–2030, which includes guidelines for DRM and climate change adaptation (CCA);
- Drafting a National Policy on Disaster Management in 2009. The government has implemented an interim DRM strategy while the draft is pending ratification; and,
- Creating a National Climate Change Action Plan for 2013–2017, which focuses on reducing Kenya’s vulnerability to climate change.
To further reduce risks and advance a DRM agenda, national priorities include:
- Supporting a paradigm shift from post-disaster response to risk reduction;
- Incorporating DRM and CCA policies across sectors and into the national and subnational development planning process; and
- Developing a disaster risk financing strategy.
GFDRR has supported disaster resilience in Kenya since 2007. Key areas of focus have included damage and loss assessment after major disaster events and building the resilience of agricultural producers and livestock herders to shocks such as droughts and floods.
From 2007 to 2011, GFDRR primarily engaged with Kenya at the regional level, including a project to build the country’s capacity to develop both national and regional climate models.
Following the 2008–2011 drought, GFDRR, the World Bank, the EU, the UN, and other partners supported the Government of Kenya in conducting a PDNA. This assessment estimated the drought’s impact and provided recommendations for recovery and long-term resilience. Building on the PDNA, GFDRR supported the design of a $77 million World Bank project in Kenya, which has been helping livestock herders develop coping mechanisms against drought and animal diseases.
Furthermore, GFDRR has helped the Government of Kenya provide financial protection to vulnerable households affected by natural hazard shocks. GFDRR produced analytical studies and provided technical assistance to the Government of Kenya to develop two programs. An agriculture and livestock insurance program, designed as a public-private partnership, uses technology to monitor the availability of pasture and calculate average yield production. Payouts are triggered to participating pastoralists and farmers when levels fall below a certain threshold. In addition, the Government of Kenya established a disaster-triggered scalable social cash transfer program. As a result, the government was able to provide 165,000 vulnerable households direct cash transfers during the early stages of a 2015 drought.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand to:
- Strengthen the capacity of the Kenyan DRM Authority;
- Build the resilience of poor segments of the population, with a particular focus on the agriculture and livestock sectors; and,
- Foster a national policy dialogue to develop a comprehensive DRM program that focuses on risk identification, risk reduction, and financial protection.