Community groups now lead climate change fight

Members of Homa Bay Civil Society Network during a demonstration in Homa Bay town. [James Omoro, Standard]

Half of Kenya's 47 counties will continue to benefit from a programme that empowers all members of communities to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The Voices for Just Climate Action (VCA), implemented in Kenya in 2021, brings together global and local voices by collaborating with grassroots organisations representing women, youth, people living with disabilities, indigenous people, urban poor, and digital activists.

The programme is implemented by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), Fundación Avina, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), and SouthSouthNorth (SSN), in collaboration with Hivos and WWF-Netherlands, under the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs' five-year strategic partnership: "Power of Voices," scheduled to conclude in 2025.

The counties benefitting from the programme include Bomet, Homa Bay, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kisumu, Kwale, Lamu, Makueni, Marsabit, Nakuru, Nairobi, Narok, Siaya, Turkana, Mombasa, Kwale, Kajiado, Samburu, Kakamega, Marsabit, Garissa, and Wajir.

During a presentation on "Climate Justice and Democratisation of Decision-Making" at COP28 in Dubai, Josh Ogada from South South North (SSN) said the programme has proven successful as it targets all members of the community.

To showcase the efficacy of locally-based climate solutions, VCA Kenya, in partnership with Muungano Wa Wanavijiji and supported by SDI, issued a call for applications for innovative urban climate solutions in informal settlements in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Kisumu counties.

Sh50,000 - Sh100,000 financing

A total of 107 successful groups from Kisumu, Nairobi, and Nakuru counties received financial support ranging from Sh50,000 to Sh100,000. This not only boosted the implementation of the solutions but also increased the institutional capacity and visibility of these informal groups.

For instance, the 'United Waste Management Youth Initiative in Kisumu,' one of the supported groups, managed to secure additional funding provided by the county government to scale up their initiatives further.

“VCA has made it easier for us to work with county climate change departments to bring money to the grassroots. In Homa Bay, we have assisted the county government in setting up laws that allow our members to access government funds like Financing Locally-Led Climate Action (FLLoCA) from the World Bank,” said Daniel Asher of Cuts International.

Still in Homa Bay, another success story emerges, highlighting the positive impact of climate change coping and adaptation strategies among young women in the Rusinga and Mfangano project through the County Climate Act 2021.

The national government's development of the ward climate change planning committee saw two women, fronted and trained by Women's Empowerment Link (WEL), taking leadership roles.

Rose M’Kauta of the Murongo Women Group from Mfangano and Victorine Atieno from Rusinga, representing the Daughters of Zion Women Group, are now members of the nine-person committee tasked with addressing ward-based challenges brought about by climate change.

“In the past, we would not have dreamt of ourselves in such committees. But through WEL, our voices were equally heard,” Atieno said.

The Siaya Muungano Network, which brings together 20 women groups, has also benefitted from the VCA programme.

The women, hailing from Gem, Ugunja, and Alego Usonga sub-counties, are leading the way in ensuring their families have enough to eat. The surplus can be sold for a few coins, contributing to their financial independence.

The 500 women from the 20 groups have returned to traditional African crops after maize, a staple crop in Kenya, started failing in the region due to the effects of climate change. They are now cultivating crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, finger millet, and local vegetables like black nightshade that are drought-resistant.