NAIROBI — Kenya’s economy is largely built on sectors highly dependent on climate and climate change; for example, tourism, horticulture, fisheries and arable agriculture. Also, since Kenya relies on hydropower as its main energy source — it provides 57 percent of the country’s electricity — national energy has become climate vulnerable as well.
Since over 75 percent of Kenya’s workforce is employed in agriculture, and around 46 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, climate-addressing solutions and technology are particularly valuable. With the continued guidance of programs like Strengthening Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in Kenya Plus (StARCK+), properly addressing climate variability and agriculture in Kenya is becoming easier.
Funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and led by Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), StARCK+ works to transform climate change governance as well as stimulate demand and enhance civil society. Running from 2013 to 2017, and following the original program StARCK that ran until 2013, the organization scales up Kenya’s private sector innovation and investments in low carbon and adaptation products.
StARCK+ offers accompanying technology, services and assets related to clean energy, sustainable agriculture, water management and weather forecasting. Some of the work they oversee includes managing the Finance for Climate Change Innovation Fund (FICCF), providing the FICCF with £5.35 million for climate related projects in the private sector and coordinating partners on this work.
This partnership has come to incorporate four microfinance institutions (MFIs): Krep Bank & Partners in the cassava and sorghum enterprise, ECLOF MFI & Partners and Inuka Africa MFI & Partners both in the dairy business and Century DTM Bank & Partners concerned with indigenous chickens. With Krep Bank, StARCK+ was able to increase uptake of climate resilient crops; with Century DTM, StARCK+ diversified income generation using indigenous chickens; and with ECLOF and Inuka Africa MFIs, StARCK+ could improve production in dairy and crops while reducing emissions.
StARCK+ further give technical assistance to the Government of Kenya with its National Climate Change Action Plan and climate finance policies. Through the FICCF they have arranged grants to the U.N., Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the private company ClimateCare, to further solutions related to climate and agriculture in Kenya.
In June of this year, the FICCF held a two-day conference in Nairobi in continued efforts to consider climate-smart agriculture in Kenya and potentially beyond. It brought together over 140 MFIs, insurance and climate information agencies, agribusiness aggregators, project workers, research and development partners, government institutions, plus dairy, sorghum and cassava farmers. The event was broken into five sessions covering finance, climate information services, insurance, technical services and partnerships related to climate-smart agriculture.
Discussions took into consideration methods to adapt and scale up current agriculture models to attract outside investors, and 15 exhibition booths were setup for participants to meet agribusiness providers and present their products.
Impacts on Farmers
Attendees learned how FICCF worked on partnerships between commercial and market actors, and how they test services aimed at de-risking farm investments for farmers. The ability to discuss acquired knowledge on technical and climate information’s has helped farmers produce more per harvest with better management of risks.
And such knowledge leads to greater ability for farms to borrow and invest. Ann Maina, Managing Director of Inuka MFI, states, “We are projecting longer relationship with these farmers and developing other products for them.” Ann was also able to bring in capital funds from the MasterCard Foundation.
Due to the widespread poverty, many people rely on natural resources for their living but remain at risk of floods and droughts that reduce business opportunity and crop production. But as Kenya remains the largest economy in East Africa, the country will be able to use its resources and sustained assistance from StARCK+ and the FICCF to better tackle climate-related problems hurting agriculture, business and its people.
– Zar-Tashiya Khan