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Summary of FCFA’s research on climate change in Kenya

FCFA’s work in Kenya was carried out by HyCRISTAL. HyCRISTAL aimed to develop a new understanding of East African climate variability and change and to work with regional decision-makers to support effective long-term (5 to 40 year) decision-making in the face of a changing climate.

  • HyCRISTAL brought together fundamental climate science with climate-impacts scientists, engineers, hydrologists, hydrogeologists, social scientists and decision-makers to understand the impacts of climate change in Kenya.


  • HyCRISTAL implemented four pilot projects in Kenya focusing on urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems, rural livelihoods, tea production, and lake transport infrastructure.


  • The pilot projects used approaches that support co-production of decision-relevant climate information and enabled on-going dialogue between the providers and users of climate information across various sectors.


  • HyCRISTAL improved the understanding of climate change in East Africa, particularly focusing on furthering understanding of changes in rainfall (past and future), quantifying and narrowing uncertainty of projections, and incorporating processes not well represented in global climate models (e.g. moist convection, land-use change, aerosol changes). A climate science summary for East Africa highlights the key climate science findings of HyCRISTAL.


  • HyCRISTAL also produced Climate Risk Narratives for the East African region to communicate possible future climate scenarios for urban and rural areas and initiate discussions with stakeholders around the impacts of climate change on Kenya



The Kisumu pilot project focused on the impacts of climate change on Kisumu’s urban WASH systems. HyCRISTAL introduced local stakeholders to new climate research emerging from the research team, while supporting climate scientists to identify information that is locally relevant. 

This involved creating simulations of surface water flooding in Kisumu under various plausible climate scenarios, and engaging with local community groups about their lived experience of flooding to determine the local relevance of the flood model.

HyCRISTAL used the discussions to further understanding on the complexity of the issues, and developed an informational video to share the local communities’ stories. These flood models were combined with sanitation, infrastructure and socio-economic maps and used to develop a health hazard map for the city. HyCRISTAL used this to examine how climate change scenarios may influence flood events and affect health risks in Kisumu illustrating the interaction of climate change and health in Kenya

HyCRISTAL is developing this into a model which will examine the likely impacts of sanitation and infrastructure interventions on health outcomes under the context of climate change in Kenya. The process of developing the model has created opportunities for discussions between a range of stakeholders including advocates for informal communities. 

The work has highlighted the fact that local residents have little agency in managing flood risks around their homes, and WASH systems need to be considered in the context of wider city infrastructure systems and within policy and planning spaces in Kisumu. The work has been positively received by local stakeholders with improved understanding of options for risk reduction and clearer dialogue around investment and decision-making.



HyCRISTAL’s rural work in Kenya focuses on developing new pathways for climate research that supports resilience of rural communities vulnerable to climate change in Kenya. This involved using long-term climate predictions and local context information to help policy and decision-makers with informed short-term (1 to 3 years) and long-term (5 to 40 years) decisions on rural climate adaptation in Kenya

Using the Household Economic Approach (HEA) and Individual Household Method (IHM), HyCRISTAL sought to understand livelihood patterns and factors inhibiting adaptive capacities of communities. This was informed by further studies on market systems and value chains, understanding community adaptation potentials, and examining policy implications. The outcomes of these processes support the building of an evidence-based pathway to rural adaptation at the county and national levels.

To provide users with access to an integrated resource for climate, crop, fisheries, hydrology, and livelihoods information, the Integrated Database for African Policymakers (IDAPS) platform is being developed by HyCRISTAL and country partners. The core of IDAPS is the livelihoods data: this is the point where the resilience of communities, in the face of climate change in Kenya, can be measured. 

Livelihoods data in IDAPS is based on the HEA but it also integrates data from other sources to provide policy and decision-makers with actionable insight into the impacts of climate change in Kenya and the effects they may have on specific rural communities. It hopes to enable targeted, longer term policies to be drawn up and actioned by government agencies as well as shorter term, seasonal decisions to be made by farmers such as providing evidence for the best planting time of a particular crop.



HyCRISTAL has partnered with UMFULA on the Climate Information for Resilient Tea Production (CI4Tea) project in Kenya. CI4Tea developed a novel approach to produce and communicate locally relevant climate information for tea production. The climate information is co-produced for tea specific indicators identified by engaging diverse stakeholders from the tea sector including smallholder farmers, large tea estates and the Tea Research Institute. 

Iterative engagements with tea sector stakeholders helped tailor climate information to their needs and incorporate their feedback to develop usable climate information. This improved understanding of local scale vulnerabilities of current and future climate change in Kenya and will help the stakeholders in identifying relevant adaptation options to sustain tea production in the short and long term. The CI4Tea work was showcased in a video on the impact of climate change on tea in Kenya



The HyCRISTAL Transport Pilot Project (HyTpp) funded through the DFID Corridors for Growth Trust Fund (C4G TF) examined changing lake levels in Lake Victoria as a result of climate change in Kenya as well as the changing lake outflows and the impacts on lake transport infrastructure and management and flooding in Kenya. Climate scenarios were based on changes from an ensemble of climate models (CMIP, CP4A and P25), and two complementary lake-level modelling approaches. 

HyCRISTAL’s analysis demonstrated how possible future lake levels may be markedly different to levels that have been observed in the recorded past. The results indicate the risks of wetter and drier climate scenarios on the lake which need to be incorporated into decision-making. The results were shared with the World Bank (C4G TF administrators) via a series of skype calls, a Lake Victoria Workshop in 2018 and the HyCRISTAL annual meetings in 2018 and 2019. 

Engagement with the World Bank uncovered the apprehension of stakeholders in dealing with uncertainty, however successive calls aided in building a common ground in understanding the needs and possibilities. These engagements help shift consultants away from cost-benefit approaches towards incorporating risks based on plausible ranges.

  • Through urban pilot work, Kisumu County government has invited HyCRISTAL to contribute to the County’s Integrated Development Plan.


  • Through the rural livelihoods pilot, HyCRISTAL has provided information on the Kenyan livelihoods analysis and climate future scenarios to the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) to support adaptation and mitigation activities that will further be mainstreamed in sectoral policies and the County Integrated Development Plans. The LREB is home to about 16 million people who have suffered impacts of climate change that has especially affected food production (largely maize) in the region. Informed by the rural research, LREB has prioritised joint actions essential for addressing the multiple challenges of climate change.


  • CI4Tea has shared results with users at a workshop at the Tea Research Institute (Kenya) and presented to the director of the Tea Board (Kenya)