Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 791–802 | Cite as

Climate change perception and adaptation of agro-pastoral communities in Kenya

  • Silvia Silvestri
  • Elizabeth Bryan
  • Claudia Ringler
  • Mario Herrero
  • Barrack Okoba
Original Article


Data on agro-pastoralists’ perceptions of climate change and adaptation options were collected from agro-pastoral communities in 7 rural districts of Kenya. Key adaptation strategies for livestock producers include mixing crop and livestock production, destocking, diversifying livestock feeds, changing animal breeds and moving animals to other sites. Desired adaptation options include introducing new breeds and increasing herd size. Additionally, the main barriers to adaptation identified include lack of credit or savings followed by lack of access to land and inputs. Farmers adaptation among livestock producers is also hindered by the absence of markets, particularly for the purchase of additional animal or new breeds or species.


Perception Adaptation Climate change Livestock Kenya 



The study was supported by the World Bank through the Trust Fund for Environmentally & Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD) and CCAFS, the CGIAR Programme on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback and insightful suggestions.


  1. Adger WN, Huq S, Brown K, Conway D, Hulme H (2003) Adaptation to climate change in the developing world. Progr Dev Stud 3(3):179–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asfaw A, Admassie A (2004) The role of household member’s education on the adoption of agricultural inputs under different environments in Ethiopia. Agric Econ 30(3):215–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baltenweck I, Staal S, Ibrahim MNM, Herrero M, Holmann F, Manyyong V, Jabbar M, Patil BR, Thornton PK, Williams T, Waithaka MM, De Wolf T (2003) Crop-livestock intensification and interaction across three continents. Final project report. CGIAR SystemWide Livestock Programme, ILRI, Addis AbabaGoogle Scholar
  4. Blench R, Marriage Z (1999) Drought and livestock in Semi-arid Africa and Southwest Asia. Working Paper 117, Overseas Development Institute, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryan E, Deressa TT, Gbetibuo GA, Ringler C (2009) Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: options and constraints. Environ Sci Pol 12(4):413–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bryan E, Ringler C, Okoba B, Roncoli C, Silvestri S, Herrero M (2011a) Coping with climate variability and adapting to climate change in Kenya: household and community strategies and determinants. Report to the World Bank ReportGoogle Scholar
  7. Bryan E, Ringler C, Okoba B, Koo J, Herrero M, Silvestri S (2011b) Agricultural land management: capturing synergies between climate change adaptation, greenhouse gas mitigation and agricultural productivity. Report to the World BankGoogle Scholar
  8. Calvosa C, Chuluunbaatar D, Fara K, Rota A (2009) Livestock and climate change. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)Google Scholar
  9. Crane TA, Roncoli C, Hoogenboom G (2011) Adaptation to climate change and climate variability: the importance of understanding agriculture as performance. NJAS Wagen J Life Sci 57(3–4):179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Croppenstedt A, Demeke M, Meschi MM (2003) Technology adoption in the presence of constraints: the case of fertilizer demand in Ethiopia. Rev Dev Econ 7(1):58–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cross K, Awuor C, Shannon O (2006) Climate change vulnerability assessment global water initiative-Kenya. IISD workshop report.
  12. Deressa TT, Hassan RM, Ringler C (2008) Measuring Ethiopian farmers’ vulnerability to climate change across regional states, IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 806.
  13. Deressa TD, Hassan RM, Ringler C, Alemu T, Yesuf M (2009) Determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia. Glob Environ Change 19:248–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman HA, Kaitibie S, Moyo S, Perry BD (2008) Livestock, livelihoods and vulnerability in Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia: designing livestock interventions for emergency situations. ILRI Research Report 8. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi.
  15. Gabathuler E, Bachmann F, Klaey A (2009) Learning for Sustainability (LforS). An extension approach in small-scale farming. In: Hoff mann V, Anja C, Mamusha L (eds) Handbook: rural extension, vol 2. Examples and Background Material. Margraf Publishers, Scientific Books, WeikersheimGoogle Scholar
  16. Gbetibouo GA (2009) Understanding farmers’ perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability the case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa. IFPRI Discussion Paper 849Google Scholar
  17. Grahn R (2008) The paradox of pastoral vulnerability. Background Paper for the development of From Poverty to Power. How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World. Oxfam GB.
  18. Hansen J, Marx S, Weber E (2004) The role of climate perceptions, expectations, and forecasts in farmer decision making: the Argentine Pampas and South Florida. Final Report of an IRI Seed Grant Project. International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), The Earth Institute at Columbia UniversityGoogle Scholar
  19. Herrero M, Ringler C, van de Steeg J, Thornton P, Zuo T, Bryan E, Omolo A, Koo J, Notenbaert A, (2010) Kenya: variability and climate change and their impacts on the agricultural sector. Report to the World BankGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoffmann I (2008) Livestock genetic diversity & climate change adaptation. In: Rowlinson P, Steele M, Nefzaoui YA (eds) Livestock & global climate change. BSAS Proceedings. Cambridge University Press, pp 76–80Google Scholar
  21. Homewood K, Trench PC, Kristjanson P (2009) Staying Masai? Pastoral livelihoods, diversification and the role of wildlife in development, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Horowitz MM, Little PD (1987) African pastoralism and poverty: some implications for drought and famine. In: Glantz M (ed) Drought and hunger in Africa: denying famine a future, Chap. 4. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  23. Igoden C, Ohoji P, Ekpare J (1990) Factors associated with the adoption of recommended practices for maize production in the Lake Basin of Nigeria. Agric Adm Ext 29(2):149–156Google Scholar
  24. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group 1 to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Core Writing Team, Pachauri RK, Reisinger A (eds) IPCC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  26. Kebede Y, Kunjal K, Coffin G (1990) Adoption of new technologies in Ethiopian agriculture: the case of Tegulet-Bulga District, Shewa Province. Agric Econ 4:27–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kabubo-Mariara J (2008) Climate change adaptation and livestock activity choices in Kenya: an economic analysis. Nat Res Forum 32:131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kabubo-Mariara J (2009) Adaptation to climate change and livestock biodiversity: evidence from Kenya. In Nina KN (ed) Conserving and valuing ecosystem services and biodiversity: economic, institutional and social challenges, pp 345–371Google Scholar
  29. Knowler D, Bradshaw B (2007) Farmers’ adoption of conservation agriculture: a review and synthesis of recent research. Food Pol 32(1):25–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krisna A, Kristjanson P, Radeny M, Nindo W (2004) Escaping poverty and becoming poor in 20 Kenyan villages. J Hum Dev 5(2):211–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kurukulasuriya P, Mendelsohn R (2006) A Ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on African cropland. CEEPA Discussion Paper No. 8. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.
  32. Lin J (1991) Education and innovation adoption in agriculture: evidence from hybrid rice in China. Am J Agric Econ 73(3):713–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Luseno WK, Mcpeak JG, Barrett CB, Little D, Gebru G (2003) Assessing the value of climate forecast information for pastoralists: evidence from Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. World Dev 31(9):1477–1494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maddison D (2007) The perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 4308. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  35. McPeak J (2006) Confronting the risk of asset loss: what role do livestock transfers in northern Kenya play? J Dev Stud 81:415–437Google Scholar
  36. Nhemachena C, Hassan R (2007) Micro-level analysis of farmers’ adaptation to climate change in Southern Africa. IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 00714. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC.
  37. Pender J (2004) Development pathways for hillsides and highlands: some lessons from Central America and Eastern Africa. Food Pol 29:339–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Roncoli C, Ingram K, Kirshen P (2002) Reading the rains: local knowledge and rainfall forecasting among farmers of Burkina Faso. Soc Nat Resour 15:411–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Roncoli C, Okoba B, Gathaara V, Ngugi J, Nganga T (2010) Adaptation to climate change for smallholder agriculture in Kenya: community-based perspectives from five districts. Report to the World Bank of the project “Adaptation of Smallholder Agriculture to Climate Change in Kenya”Google Scholar
  40. Solano C, Bernués A, Rojas F, Joaquín N, Fernandez W, Herrero M (2000) Relationship between management intensity and structural and social variables: in dairy and dual purpose systems in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Agric Syst 65:159–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Staal SJ, Balttenweck I, Waithaka MM, Wolff TD, Njoroge L (2002) Location and uptake: integrated household and GIS analysis of technology adoption and land use, with application to smallholder dairy farms in Kenya. Agric Econ 27:295–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thomas DSG, Twyman C, Osbahr H, Hewitson B (2007) Adaptation to climate change and variability: farmer responses to intra-seasonal precipitation trends in South Africa. Clim Change 83:301–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Thornton PK, Herrero M, Freeman HA, Mwai AO, Rege E, Jones PG, McDermott J (2007) Vulnerability, climate change and livestock-opportunities and challenges for the poor. J SAT Agric Res 4(1):1–23Google Scholar
  44. Thornton PK, van de Steeg J, Notenbaert A, Herrero M (2009) The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: a review of what we know and what we need to know. Agric Syst 101(3):113–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Trærup S, Mertz O (2011) Rainfall variability and household coping strategies in northern Tanzania: a motivation for district-level strategies. Reg Environ Change 11(3):471–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. van Lier E (2000) Climate change, a cause of conflict between pastoralists in the semi-arid regions of Wajir, Kenya. Master Thesis, GentGoogle Scholar
  47. Vogel C, O’Brien K (2006) Who can eat information? Examining the effectiveness of seasonal climate forecasts and regional climate-risk management strategies. Clim Res 33:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yirga CT (2007) The dynamics of soil degradation and incentives for optimal management in Central Highlands of Ethiopia. PhD Thesis. Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development. University of Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Silvestri
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Bryan
    • 2
  • Claudia Ringler
    • 2
  • Mario Herrero
    • 1
  • Barrack Okoba
    • 3
  1. 1.International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)NairobiKenya
  2. 2.International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)WashingtonUSA
  3. 3.NPC Soil and Water Management and Conservation Agriculture, KARINairobiKenya

Personalised recommendations