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Adapting to Climate Change and Drought: Strategies for Resilience

  • By Lucy Ndumi
  • June 15, 2023

The effects of climate change are being felt by nations worldwide. The 2021 Annual Climate Report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) highlights that the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.08 degrees Celsius per decade since 1880. Furthermore, the report shows that the average rate of increase since 1981 has been more than twice as fast at 0.18 degrees Celsius per decade.

Climate change is rapidly affecting the world in many ways, one of which is the increasing prevalence of droughts. These severe and prolonged periods of low rainfall have devastating impacts on agriculture, food security, and the livelihoods of millions of people. It is crucial to develop adaptation strategies to mitigate the effects of drought and increase resilience to this growing problem.

Efforts have been made to mitigate climate change, such as using renewable energy sources like solar and wind, constructing sustainable buildings, reforestation, and planting drought-resistant crops. While these strategies are commendable, we need to acknowledge the reality of climate change. Adaptation to the consequences of climate change should be our immediate focus before we can address its velocity.

One important aspect of adaptation to drought is the implementation of monitoring and early warning systems to identify areas that are most affected by drought. This information is critical for policymakers to create appropriate policies that will increase resilience to drought and minimize the effects that come with it.

Another essential approach to adaptation is the cultivation of drought-tolerant crops and the promotion of sustainable land use practices. Planting drought-tolerant crops can serve as the first line of defense in times of drought. Drought tolerance is the ability of plants to endure low tissue water content through adaptive traits like osmotic adjustment, cellular elasticity, and increasing protoplasmic resistance. These traits enable plants to maintain cell turgor, an essential factor in their survival during periods of low rainfall.

Furthermore, promoting sustainable land use practices like agroforestry, terracing, and conservation farming can help increase soil fertility, reduce erosion, and improve water retention. By conserving soil and water resources, farmers can increase their resilience to drought and protect their crops from the damaging effects of soil erosion.

Communities can also be educated on the best ways to adapt to drought. For example, providing training on water harvesting and conservation techniques, such as rainwater harvesting, can help people manage water resources more efficiently. Additionally, investing in irrigation technologies can help farmers who rely on rainfall to plan their planting periods.

Adapting to the consequences of climate change, particularly drought, requires a diverse set of approaches. From the promotion of sustainable land use practices to investing in irrigation technologies and educating communities on water harvesting and conservation techniques, there are many ways to increase resilience to drought. By implementing these strategies, we can mitigate the effects of drought, protect our crops, and secure our food systems, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our communities.

Various organizations and businesses are supporting companies that offer climate-smart solutions in Kenya. Kenya Climate Ventures is one such organization. It is a reputable commercial investor in climate impact for private sector companies, particularly those in their early and growth stages, with specific investment criteria, partnerships, and value creation through financial and technical support. KCV is actively engaged in Climate Impact Investment, with a strong focus on the forestry value chain and the production of drought-tolerant crops. Shammah Agribiz Group Limited, an investee of KCV, is dedicated to the production of certified fruit tree seedlings, aligning with the company’s core values of “food safety and climate change.” Their operations have resulted in a reduction of 2.6 tons of carbon emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.

KCV has also made investments in Dash Crop Limited, an organization focused on cultivating sustainable and climate-resilient crops. These crops include sorghum, finger millet, amaranth, pulses, and cassava. Dash Crop operates through an innovative contract farming model, providing farmers with seeds, fertilizer, harvesting machines for sorghum, and comprehensive agronomic support services. The harvested crops are processed into flours, which are then sold.

Another portfolio company of KCV is Mace Foods Limited, which plays a crucial role in providing a ready and competitive market for over 3,000 rural smallholder farmers. These farmers cultivate drought-tolerant chili in Western Kenya and the Rift Valley, thus increasing their incomes and livelihood opportunities. Mace Foods Limited contributes to the economic empowerment of these farmers while promoting the growth of resilient agricultural practices in the region.