Adaptation Consortium recommends indigenous knowledge inclusion to foster locally-led climate action

Out of the 47 counties,23 have been classified as ASAL areas following their vulnerability to climate shocks and hazards.

Arid and Semi-arid regions have increasingly faced challenges due to climate change, which has led to increased water scarcity across various Counties.

Depending mainly on pastoralism and marginal farming, the communities need a water supply for livestock, agriculture, and human consumption.

For instance, Kitui County is characterized by a semi-arid and arid environment that faces challenges due to prolonged dry spells leading to drought and food insecurity.

Jacqueline James, a community leader from the Kitui explains how the residents have engaged over the years to ensure that funded water projects work.

“Water scarcity is a critical issue in our area. As a community, we came together to take responsibility for guarding the water at the dams,” Jacqueline said.

She said that the only way to ensure that water stays clean to serve the community is through collective responsibility and involving women in decision-making.

“Each household fetching water from the dam pays a Sh.50 fee for monthly maintenance. We also engage women and youth in the dam's hygiene,” she added.

The Adaptation Consortium has come in handy in supporting county governments in Kenya to mainstream climate change into development and planning through the County Climate Change Fund(CCCF) mechanism.

The CCCF mechanism is a devolved climate finance model that facilitates the flow of climate finance to the County enabling mainstream climate change.

In Isiolo, the communities have joined hands to improve the availability and access to water for domestic and productive use.

Halima Ibrahim, Isiolo resident implies that coming up with climate policies without implementation is one factor that derails projects in the communities.

Halima claims lack of climate information in the communities still slows progress in adaptation and mitigation measures.

“Interpret the content of the policy to people at the grassroots so that they understand why they need to protect climate investments,” she suggests.

Halima believes in incorporating community knowledge in solving water scarcity like building sand dams, boreholes, water pans, and earth dams.

“Most of our community members use indigenous knowledge to predict climate change, there is a need to bridge community knowledge and science to combat climate change,” Halima suggested.

According to a report released by the adaptation consortium after assessing the established water projects in five ASAL counties (Isiolo, Wajir, Makueni, Vihiga, and Kitui), some water projects were working well while some were nonfunctional.

In the case of non-functional investment, water was inaccessible to the population and the water point had not served its intended purpose.

“In some cases, projects initiated without community consultation or involvement resulted in a lack of local ownership leading to neglect and underutilization of the facilities. Thus lead to vandalization of some projects by the community,” read the ADA Consortium report in part.

Some projects were also rendered non-functional or abandoned completely because of poor selection of location for the water projects.

“Salinity of water is another factor that contributed to the non-functionality of water investments particularly in Garissa and Wajir where two boreholes had been abandoned as the water was not fit for human or livestock consumption. In case of poor siting, water infrastructure may be susceptible to insufficient yield,” added the report.

Halima elaborated that in such cases, the community can help hydrogeological experts identify reliable grounds for such investments based on their best knowledge of the communities.

ADA has suggested that there is a need for further capacity building of community members especially women and marginalized groups and strengthening of actionable climate information to help detect and rectify any project issues in time.

“The recognition of traditional institutions and indigenous knowledge to legitimise local action is very important in the sustainability of the investments. It enables communities to articulate their knowledge of critical resources and resilient livelihood system in the face of climate variability and change,” cited the report.

The consortium further recommended policies and laws that support sustainable water management and resource allocation.

According to National Climate Change Action Plan, ASAL regions cover approximately 89 per cent of the country’s total land area with approximately 36 per cent of the population living in these regions.

Out of the 47 counties,23 have been classified as ASAL areas following their vulnerability to climate shocks and hazards, ADA has first picked the five counties for innovative decentralised funding.

County governments are supposed to set aside not less than two per cent of their development budget for climate change projects, programmes, and activities as stated in the county's climate change act.

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