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Local perceptions and responses to climate change and variability: the case of Laikipia district, Kenya

Local knowledge can be instrumental in assisting smallholder farmers to cope with climate change and variability. This paper presents local knowledge, perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability amongst smallholders of Laikipia district of Kenya. A Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) calculated for one station is compared with smallholders’ perceptions. According to smallholders’ perceptions, climatic variability is increasingly changing. Smallholders use a combination of coping and adaptation strategies to respond to this, including diversification of crop varieties, migration and sale of livestock. The study results show that farmers have an in-depth knowledge of climatic variability, which they use to inform their coping and adaptation strategies. Knowledge of their perceptions and adaptations are vital entry points for decision-makers and policymakers to learn how and where to enhance the adaptive capacity of smallholders.