Kenyan farmers battle hunger with chicken, goats and bees

In Kenya, smallholder farmers are battling climate change by embracing diverse farming activities. Photos from Nyando, Kenya by K. Trautman
(afficher l'original)

by Cecilia Schubert and Vivian Atakos

In East Africa, smallholder farmers are battling climate change, while trying to improve their incomes and food insecurity.

By diversifying their income sources, farmers are also improving their resilience to climate change. As the weather fluctuates between excessive rain, to months of drought, keeping a few chickens, goats that produce milk, and managing bees for honey can be good supplements to the regular on-farm activities. These days, planting traditional crops like maize and potato, using traditional methods, can be a high-risk activity.

Photos from Nyando, Kenya by K. Trautman

Different sources of income and a reliable supply of food also means a better chance to battle hunger, improve incomes, and ensure nutrition for the whole family. 

That is why, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is working in East Africa with partners to help farmers learn more about alternatives that can boost income and battle hunger as climate changes.

Lower Nyando, Kenya is highly vulnerably to drought, but at the same time, unpredictable rainfall has increased in the area leading to more floods. This is hampering food security and agricultural activities in the area.

CCAFS in East Africa is helping empower farming households to adopt a range of livelihood options, which, in the end, will help secure food for the whole family and improve incomes. Specific activities include introducing farmers to beekeeping, keeping small livestock like goats, sheep and poultry, crop diversification with improved agronomic practices, and illustrating water terracing for improved yields. 

The outreach is done in close collaboration with local partners such as World Neighbors, the Swedish Cooperative Centre’s Vi Agroforestry programme, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the Kenya Ministries of Livestock Development and Agriculture. Each partner shares expertise and experiences related to specific interventions, and helps community institutions, farmers’ organizations, and group collaborations integrate these activities into their existing practices. 

Researchers are also learning from farmers as they test a portfolio of promising climate change adaptation, mitigation and risk management interventions. Taken together, “climate smart practices” are the building blocks of "climate smart villages". The villages will be innovative hubs where farmers take the lead to improve existing practices and adopt new ones, adapt to the changing climate along the way.

Already, CCAFS East Africa and partner organizations have reached 1,170 households belonging to self-help groups. 70-85 per cent of the active members of the self-help groups are women.

Related post: Community groups help themselves to tackle climate change (CGIAR site)

Learn more about our ongoing activities in East Africa:

Testing appropriate climate smart practices with farmers' help

Intercrop innovations may help build resilience in semi-arid areas

Smallholders need a hand-up not a hand-out

View all the photos from East Africa on our Flickr.

This piece was prepared by Cecilia Schubert (CCAFS Coordinating Unit) and Vivian Atakos (CCAFS East Africa Office) for World Hunger Day 2013. For more stories, follow @Cgiarclimate on Twitter and on Facebook.