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Building Community Resilience to Natural Disasters in Kenya

Downstream communities in the Ewaso Nyiro River of north eastern Kenya are extremely vulnerable to droughts and floods. We are working to help communities reduce their vulnerability and improve their livelihoods through an innovative approach combining sustainable ecosystem management, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Action Description:

The Problem to be solved

In the arid north of Kenya, water means life. The situation for those dependent on the resources of the Ewaso Nyiro River is becoming grave, as there has been drought almost every year since 1984.The pastoralist communities of north eastern Kenya depend directly on their natural environment to live, and are some of the worst affected by drought and floods, which are happening with an alarming and ever increasing frequency.

Where we work

The Ewaso Nyiro North River Basin covers over 200,000 km² of northern Kenya. Isiolo and Laikipia counties are the main focus of our activities and have a total population of over 500,000 people. The downstream part of the Ewaso Nyiro is an arid area and the river resources have been heavily degraded while the number of stakeholders competing for the same resources is increasing. People mainly depend on livestock, but due to drought animal numbers are diminishing and villagers are under pressure to find other livelihood options.


Aim of our work

The aim is to increase the resilience of communities to the impacts of drought, floods and other disasters. Many communities face common problems, such as the changing course and reduced water availability from the Ewaso Nyiro North River which is their lifeline.

We also aim to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to work together to overcome hazards at a regional level and to encourage government institutions and other authorities to support policies for improved livelihood measures.

Our approach

To break the vicious cycle of disaster and emergency response we are working in 13 communities with local partners to identify hazards and develop community action plans for resilience building, including:
- creating sustainable livelihoods
- restoration of degraded ecosystems – for instance tree planting
- finding sustainable solutions for water retention
- establishing early warning systems to better prepare for hazards

At the same time, we are engaging resource users and managers upstream to promote Integrated Water Resources Management that is equitable for both upstream and downstream communities.


Kenya’s pastoralists reap from resilience, economic growth projects 

Action Partners: