Resilience and economic growth in arid lands in KenyaEast Africa


Livestock plays an important role in Kenya’s semi-arid regions, where it is the main source of income. Milk produced is used to feed the family, while the manure is used to fertilize the soil. Livestock can also be kept as a source of draft power to help cultivate the land (Silvestri et al. 2012)/taxonomy/term/7851. However, livestock release greenhouse gas emissions, most significantly methane, and the decomposition of manure also releases nitrous oxide. Emissions from livestock account for 95% of Kenya’s agricultural emissions, excluding land use change and forestry (FAOSTAT 2016)/taxonomy/term/7862. The REGAL-Accelerated Growth (AG), a 5-year project implemented by ACDI/VOCA with funding from USAID’s Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, set out to improve competitiveness and increase economic growth in Marsabit and Isiolo counties by improving links between actors in the value chain and the enabling environment. REGAL- AG also aimed to increase livestock productivity and resilience of the communities. Herd-size management and feed quality improvements were two climate-smart practices introduced by the project.

Relationship to CSA

Farmers benefitted from higher livestock productivity, accomplished through improved herd-size management practices that increase productivity per animal, such as decreasing herd age at slaughter (Herrero et al. 2013)/taxonomy/term/7993, and feed quality improvements. Herd-size management and feed quality improvements also have significant mitigation co-benefits, as smaller herds result in lower net GHG emissions, and feed quality improvements decrease methane production and enteric fermentation.

Impacts and lessons learned

The estimated impact from reduction of herd size when scaled to full project size is a reduction in net GHG emissions (–185,952 tCO2e/year). For feed quality improvements, a conservative estimate of a 1% reduction in methane emissions from enteric fermentation is expected (Smith et al. 2007)/taxonomy/term/5244, meaning the estimated annual GHG mitigation benefit of feed quality improvements for both cattle and sheep totals –9,053 tCO2e/year.

Designers of livestock projects in the region should consider herd-size dynamics, grazing land improvements and livestock forage quality and management. It is also necessary to improve links between livestock owners and buyers, improve access to inputs, and provide more timely market information to improve livestock off-take rates.

Link to info note


  • 1

    Silvestri S, Bryan E, Ringler C, Herrero M, Okoba B. 2012. Climate change perception and adaptation of agro-pastoral communities in Kenya. Regional Environmental Change 12(4):791-802.

    Data on agro-pastoralists’ perceptions of climate change and adaptation options were collected from agro-pastoral communities in 7 rural districts of Kenya. Key adaptation strategies for livestock producers include mixing crop and livestock production, destocking, diversifying livestock feeds, changing animal breeds and moving animals to other sites. Desired adaptation options include introducing new breeds and increasing herd size. Additionally, the main barriers to adaptation identified include lack of credit or savings followed by lack of access to land and inputs. Farmers adaptation among livestock producers is also hindered by the absence of markets, particularly for the purchase of additional animal or new breeds or species.

  • 2

    FAOSTAT. 2016. Agriculture Total. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistics Division. Agriculture Total contains all the emissions produced in the different agricultural emissions sub-domains (enteric fermentation, manure management, rice cultivation, synthetic fertilizers, manure applied to soils, manure left on pastures, crop residues, cultivation of organic soils, burning of crop residues, burning of savanna, energy use), providing a picture of the contribution to the total amount of GHG emissions from agriculture. GHG emissions from agriculture consist of non-CO2 gases, namely methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), produced by crop and livestock production and management activities.
  • 3

    Herrero M, Thornton PK, Havlik P, Rufino MC. 2013. Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: mitigation options and trade-offs. In: Climate Change Mitigation and Agriculture. London: Earthscan.

    Chapter 27.


  • 4

    Smith P et al. 2007. Agriculture. In: Metz B et al., (Eds.). 2007. Climate Change: Mitigation. Contribution of WG III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Agricultural lands (lands used for agricultural production, consisting of cropland, managed grassland and permanent crops including agro-forestry and bio-energy crops) occupy about 40- 50% of the Earth’s land surface. Agriculture accounted for an estimated emission of 5.1 to 6.1 GtCO2-eq/yr in 2005 (10-12% of total global anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs)). A variety of options exists for mitigation of GHG emissions in agriculture. The most prominent options are improved crop and grazing land management (e.g., improved agronomic practices, nutrient use, tillage, and residue management), restoration of organic soils that are drained for crop production and restoration of degraded lands. Lower but still significant mitigation is possible with improved water and rice management; set-asides, land use change (e.g., conversion of cropland to grassland) and agro-forestry; as well as improved livestock and manure management. Many mitigation opportunities use current technologies and can be implemented immediately, but technological development will be a key driver ensuring the efficacy of additional mitigation measures in the future (high agreement, much evidence). Overall, the outlook for GHG mitigation in agriculture suggests that there is significant potential (high agreement, medium evidence). Current initiatives suggest that synergy between climate change policies, sustainable development and improvement of environmental quality will likely lead the way forward to realize the mitigation potential in this sector.

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CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

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