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Vulnerability to climate stress:local and regional perspectives: proceedings of two workshops

This report discusses the proceedings of two related workshops, which presented the findings of the project “Adaptation as a livelihood struggle: conflict and vulnerability among dryland populations in Kenya”. This research looked at how conflicts shape adaptation and contribute to vulnerability in the face of climate stresses, such as drought. One of the aims of the project is to contribute to both Kenyan and East African climate adaptation policy processes with regard to how the most vulnerable can be targeted.

The first workshop, taking place in Nairobi, was a forum for discussion of preliminary research findings from two case study sites (Kitui and Turkana) with national and regional policy makers, practitioners and researchers. This workshop, conducted jointly with the Capacity building in Least developed countries regarding Adaptation to Climate Change (CLACC) project, also included presentations regarding climate change adaptation research and policy development in the region. Group discussions raised the following points:

  • work done in other areas could make useful contribution to adaptation to climate change in the study areas
  • there is a global consensus that the climate is changing. The problem faced is reaching the policy and decision makers with this understanding. Communication to policy makers is important, but there is a need to translate the information collected to forms that decision makers can better understand. Awareness raising should be carried out in primary schools
  • there is a need for policies that may support growing of indigenous crops and a need to translate research into policy language
  • what is the entry point for researchers in influencing policies? Is it better to target the highest levels possible? The biggest challenge is translating policy statements and research findings into legislation and actions.

In the second workshop, the Kitui case study findings were discussed with villagers and leaders, among others. The workshop presented preliminary findings from the data collection and brought together key stakeholders to share experiences and knowledge on the management of drought and conflict as well as utilisation of natural forestry resources. One finding was that the local communities are not actively involved in relevant decision making processes, presenting challenges both to management of conflict, drought and conservation. Recommendations are that:

  • the local communities should be involved in the planning and management of the hilltop forests
  • all conservation initiatives for the Endau hilltop forests should be people-focused and community driven
  • greater community participation should be recognized as a major contributor successful for forests management in the dry lands
  • the hilltop forests should be designated as sites of special interest and eco-tourism because of diversity and rare plants and birds.