Strengthening the key role of meso-level institutions in adaptationKenya


Since 2009, the Government of Kenya, the UK's Department for International Development (DfID) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) have supported the development of a mechanism for devolved funding and planning of adaptation in rural counties in Kenya. The so-called County Adaptation Funds (CAFs) were originally piloted in Isiolo County, but have since expanded to four other counties and now cover some 30% of the country’s landmass. In the current phase (2013-2016), DfID works in partnership with the Kenyan National Drought Management Authority and IIED, with technical support from various NGOs and agencies (IIED 2013). 1

Relationship to CSA

70% of the County Adaptation Funds are allocated to investments in public goods and services, having a direct impact on productivity, the first pillar of climate-smart agriculture (IIED 2014). 2 These investments are identified and prioritized by communities through Ward Adaptation Planning Committees. They have so far focused on water infrastructure for commercial and domestic uses (e.g. sand dams, water tanks, boreholes, strategic water reserves), as well as livestock disease monitoring. A further 20% of the funds are allocated to investments at county level by a County Adaptation Planning Committee. Activities so far have included cross-county veterinary services and the incorporation of climate change adaptation strategies and practices into County Developments Plans (Ibid). In this way, the project also addresses the second pillar of climate-smart agriculture: adaptation. Under Kenya’s Constitution of 2010, local governments have been afforded greater de facto decision-making power and fiscal devolution, and it is envisaged that counties will eventually be afforded access to a government climate fund at national level.

Impacts and lessons learned

The County Adaptation Funds in Kenya are still being rolled out and long-term outcomes remain to be seen. However, so far, they provide a seemingly successful model for overcoming the widespread disconnect between national and subnational levels in agricultural adaptation (Müller et al. 2014). 3 First, by focusing funds at the County and Ward levels, they overcome the administrative and political barriers and bottlenecks that often prevent meso-level institutions from supporting adaptation. Second, as stakeholders identify their own investment needs, they allow adaptation responses to develop on the basis of the local agro-ecological and livelihood context, rather than a one-size-fits-all national policy. Experiences from the CAF approach are being incorporated into Kenya’s National Adaptation Plan, and the approach is now also being piloted in Tanzania.


  • 1

    IIED. 2013. Ensuring devolution supports adaptation and climate resilient growth in Kenya. London, United Kingdom: The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Effective governance of natural resources is crucial for adaptive capacity and climate resilient growth — and nowhere more so than in Kenya’s arid and semiarid lands. Climate change will hit dryland communities and economies early and severely because it exacerbates existing structural causes of poverty and inequality. Poor governance and exclusion of local voices (particularly from planning and management of natural resources) has eroded dryland communities’ distinctive capacity to adapt. But building on Kenya’s new constitution, a devolved Climate Adaptation Fund is being piloted in Isiolo County. It puts local priorities at the heart of the development agenda, and can integrate local adaptive strategies and innovations into national policy, providing insights that could also help reform development planning systems in other drylands
  • 2

    IIED. 2014. Isiolo County Adaptation Fund: Activities, Costs and Impacts after the 1st Investment Round. London, United Kingdom: The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

    Climate change adaptation in circumstances of development deficits is a major challenge facing much of Africa. Nowhere is adaptation more necessary than in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya where the effects of climate change will hit communities and economies earlier and more severely than other areas of the country. In 2010, in the context of constitutional reform in Kenya to devolve planning and development powers to county governments, the then Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL) sought development partner support to initiate a pilot project to identify ways of mainstreaming climate change into development planning and delivery at county and national levels. Strengthening institutional capacity at county level for good governance and adaptive planning was recognised by the Ministry as vital for robust and resilient development in Kenya in the face of future climate change. This paper summarises the process, costs, value for money and impacts of the project so far, and outlines the forward trajectory for funding adaptation to climate change in Kenya’s ASALs.

  • 3

    Müller B, Pizer W, de Coninck S, Morrow D, Serrano de la Rosa G, Sharma A, Hesse C. 2014. Devolved Access Modalities: Lessons for the Green Climate Fund from existing practice. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford Climate Policy. The aim of this Brief is to address certain concerns about this decentralized/devolved access model that have been raised (in personal communications) by Board members and other stakeholders. In order to do so, the Brief uses seven case studies to illustrate current practices that could provide ideas and insights about how the GCF might design its own approach (or set of approaches) for a GCF decentralized/devolved access modality, which may borrow features from the variety of forms used by others. The case studies are focused around four questions: a. How does the funding model generally work, in terms of disbursing funds? b. Who decides what? In particular, in the context of approval of funding, what decisions are taken by the governing funding body and what decisions are devolved and to whom? c. How does this funding model ensure the governing body’s objectives are met, and how does it ensure that the various fiduciary standards and safeguards are satisfied without the process being ‘hands on’? d. How is the funding level for a particular programme determined?

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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.

Case studies

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