Developing User-Driven Climate Information Services to Build Resilience Amongst Groups at Risk of Drought and Flood in Arid and Semi-Arid Land Counties in Kenya

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
William Ndegwa Githungo1, Ayub Shaka1, Dominic Kniveton2, Lydia Muithya3, Robert Powell4 and Emma Louise Visman5, (1)Kenya Meteorological Services, Public Weather Forecasting, Nariboi, Kenya, (2)University of Sussex, School of Global Studies, Brighton, United Kingdom, (3)Anglican Development Services Eastern, Kitui and Makueni Counties, Kitui, Kenya, (4)Independent consultant, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, (5)King's College London, Geography, London, United Kingdom
The Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties of Kitui and Makueni in Kenya are experiencing increasing climate variability in seasonal rainfall, including changes in the onset, cessation and distribution of the two principal rains upon which the majority of the population’s small-holder farmers and livestock keepers depend. Food insecurity is prevalent with significant numbers also affected by flooding during periods of intense rainfall.

As part of a multi-partner Adaptation Consortium, Kenya Meteorological Services (KMS) are developing Climate Information Services (CIS) which can better support decision making amongst the counties’ principal livelihoods groups and across County Government ministries. Building on earlier pilots and stakeholder discussion, the system combines the production of climate information tailored for transmission via regional and local radio stations with the establishment of a new SMS service. SMS are provided through a network of CIS intermediaries drawn from across key government ministries, religious networks, non-governmental and community groups, aiming to achieve one SMS recipient per 3-500 people. It also introduces a demand-led, premium-rate SMS weather information service which is designed to be self-financing in the long term. Supporting the ongoing process of devolution, KMS is downscaling national forecasts for each county, and providing seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily forecasts, as well as warnings of weather-related hazards. Through collaboration with relevant ministries, government bodies and research institutions, including livestock, agriculture, drought management and health, technical advisories are developed to provide guidance on application of the climate information. The system seeks to provide timely, relevant information which can enable people to use weather and climate information to support decisions which protect life and property and build resilience to ongoing climate variability and future change.