How bioenergy can help local communities adapt to climate change: lessons from Nyanza Province, Kenya

Apr 2013

Adaptation to climate change is one of the most important issues facing Kenya today. Rural Kenyans’ livelihoods are already affected by a changing climate, with increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns, a 1°C average temperature rise, and increasing intensity of floods to coastal and inland regions recorded since 1970 (FEWSNET).
Adaptation to climate change is considered an essential component of poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods. Adaptation does not just involve large dams and infrastructure; it also means small-scale initiatives that benefit people’s livelihoods as well as address local environmental issues. This report demonstrates how small-scale biofuel innovations can directly contribute to livelihood-based climate change adaptation by improving communities’ resilience though flood-proof, clean, and sustainable fuel. Small-scale bioenergy can also provide sources of clean development for communities, improving their livelihoods through clean development. This increases their resilience to climate change. This report informs policy makers at a national government level about the effects of climate change on the livelihoods of rural Kenyans, and recommends a new focus on adaptation as a multi-faceted, cross-cutting livelihood issue.
Kenya is currently developing climate change policies, governance and strategies which recognise that reducing poor people’s vulnerability to climate change is an essential component of successful and equitable adaptation. This working paper shares lessons learnt from Kenya on the role of bioenergy as a means of adapting to climate change. The paper discusses case studies of using improved biomass cookstoves and liquid bioethanol for an urban informal settlement in Western Kenya. It presents policy recommendations that can help in understanding and supporting adaptation through clean development as part of improving livelihoods. This report makes wider recommendations about mainstreaming adaptation into local and national institutions and policy. Although the recommendations are targeted at the Government of Kenya, other developing country governments can also benefit from creating a more supportive framework for small-scale biofuel initiatives and developing a cross-cutting institutional and policy framework for adaptation at a livelihood level.

By: K. Symons

download this document:   2117 kb