Food Security

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 281–300 | Cite as

Weather extremes and household welfare in rural Kenya

  • Ayala WinemanEmail author
  • Nicole M. Mason
  • Justus Ochieng
  • Lilian Kirimi
Original Paper


Households in rural Kenya are sensitive to weather shocks through their reliance on rain-fed agriculture and livestock. Yet the extent of vulnerability is poorly understood, particularly in reference to extreme weather. This paper uses temporally and spatially disaggregated weather data and three waves of household panel survey data to understand the impact of weather extremes –including periods of high and low rainfall, heat, and wind– on household welfare. Particular attention is paid to heterogeneous effects across agro-ecological regions. We find that all types of extreme weather affect household well-being, although effects sometimes differ for income and calorie estimates. Periods of drought are the most consistently negative weather shock across various regions. An examination of the channels through which weather affects welfare reveals that drought conditions reduce income from both on- and off-farm sources, though households compensate for diminished on-farm production with food purchases. The paper further explores the household and community characteristics that mitigate the adverse effects of drought. In particular, access to credit and a more diverse income base seem to render a household more resilient.


Food security Household welfare Kenya Resilience Weather shocks 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from USAID/Kenya for funding this study through the Tegemeo Agricultural Policy Research and Analysis (TAPRA) Project. They also wish to thank Jordan Chamberlin and Jenni Gronseth for their assistance. The views expressed in this study are those of the authors only.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center, Eastern and Southern AfricaArushaTanzania
  3. 3.Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and DevelopmentEgerton UniversityNairobiKenya

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