Adaptation to climate change and climate variability and its implications for household food security in Kenya

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2019

Climate change and climate variability affect weather patterns and cause shifts in seasons with serious repercussions such as declining food production and productivity for communities and households in Kenya. To mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and variability, farming households have been encouraged to adopt different strategies such as new crop varieties, crop and livestock diversification, and water-harvesting technologies. These adaptation strategies are expected to boost both the amount of food produced and food security of an adapting household; which in this case is defined one that has taken up one or more of the twenty-five climate change and climate variability adaptation techniques identified during the study. Using maize yield equivalent (MYE), which expresses farm production in equivalent kgs of maize grain, as a measure of total crop production and food security, this study assessed the factors influencing adaptation to climate change and climate variability, and the implications of adaptation for food security. To accomplish these objectives, an endogenous switching regression model was applied to household survey data of 658 households from 38 counties in Kenya. The results demonstrated that increases in mean air temperature and precipitation influenced levels of food production either negatively or positively depending on whether they occur at harvest, land preparation or during crop growing periods. The type of soil also influenced productivity as households living in areas with different soil types produce varying quantities of MYE in kgs/ha of land. Household characteristics and ownership of farm assets also influenced adaptation. By comparing production of adapting and non-adapting households, we demonstrated that households adapting to climate change and climate variability through uptake of technologies such as early planting, use of improved crop varieties, and crop diversification produced 4877 kgs of MYE/ha per year against 3238 kgs of MYE/ha per year for households that did not adapt (a 33.6% difference between the two groups). Given the nature of for smallscale households who produce mainly for household consumption, high crop yields translate to increased food security. We can therefore conclude that successful adaptation to climate change and climate variability significantly increases food security in Kenya.

Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Kabubo-Mariara, J., & Mulwa, R. (2019). Adaptation to climate change and climate variability and its implications for household food security in Kenya. Food Security, 11(6), 1289-1304.

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Publication | 12 March 2020