Use of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge in Adapting to Climate Change and Variability at the Kenyan Coast
Coastal farming communities in Kenya are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and variability. This requires urgent and sustainable adaptation strategies to build the resilience of the farming communities against the changing climate. This study sought to evaluate traditional coping strategies and propose appropriate adaptation strategies for the study area in the face of the changing climate. To this end, the study evaluated historical and projected climate trends, and how the variability and change affected coastal farming communities. It also evaluated how coastal farming communities were coping with the climate change and variability, and whether or not the existing coping strategies were effective in the face of a changing climate. Observed climate data from the Kenya Meteorological Department were subjected to standard statistical analysis to generate the historical climate for the Kenyan coast. Future climate scenarios were developed using the Coordinated Regional climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX RCA) climate model outputs (driven by eight global climate models (GCM)) and used to inform the projected climate outlook over the study area. Results showed a negative but significant trend in precipitation and a positive trend for both minimum and maximum temperature in historical data. Projected climate showed a positive trend in rainfall for the period 2015 to 2045 for both the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and the RCP 8.5. Through semi-structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews, socio-economic characteristics of farming communities and ongoing coping/adaptation strategies to impacts of climate change were assessed. Results from the survey indicated that the effects of climate change on farming communities at the Kenyan coast were generally similar irrespective of the locality. Local communities employ both indigenous and modern strategies to cope with climatic change impacts with the support of the state, the county governments and non-state actors through knowledge provision. However, there was limited uptake and implementation of adaptation measures in the study area. The study generated useful information that could inform the adoption of appropriate and sustainable climate change and variability adaptation options in the study area. Further, an integrated climate change adaptation framework that could be adopted in the study area was generated from this study. It is recommended that the local administration adopts the framework for effective climate change adaptation and enhanced local and regional socio-economic development.
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