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Building Climate Resilience in East African Agriculture

Prisca Mayende is an energetic woman with nine children. Prisca and her children live with her husband on her 3.8 acre shamba (farm). Her husband works on another shamba owned by the family and Prisca manages the home shamba on her own, with the help of her children.

Prisca is active in the community and is chairwoman of Naigai community water project, initiated in 2009. Seventeen households (4 men, 13 women) worked together to dig a borehole on Prisca’s shamba and to start an early childhood education project, also on Prisca’s shamba.

After working with Vi Agroforestry through the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project and the Naigai community group, in 2010 she decided to adopt ecological farming practices like agroforestry, organic soil fertilisation and crop diversification.

Greenpeace Project in Kenya

Our climate is changing and all over the world we are experiencing more unpredictable and uncertain weather than in the past. Those depending on the weather for their daily bread – farmers and farm workers – are feeling, and will continue to feel, climate change more intensively than everyone else. East Africa has first-hand experience in climate change. It is predicted that long rains will decrease and droughts will be more common, resulting in food insecurity.

In October 2014 we interviewed farmers and members of the organisations that support them in West and Eastern Kenya. Our aim was to identify which practices are being used successfully to build resilience, and alternatively which practices increase vulnerability.

The following are testimonies of farmers who are building resilience to deal with the challenges created by a changing climate, by making the switch to ecological farming.

As a result of our research, we have released a report “Building Environmental Resilience - A snapshot of farmers adapting to climate change in Kenya” , which is backed up by a scientific literature review. Greenpeace Africa also attended the UNEP Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference, and created an exhibition at the National Museum in Nairobi.

Project results

Through our research, we found that Kenyan farmers are effectively applying a number of context-specific practices that are increasing their ability to cope with changes in climate. We grouped these according to four key elements that ensure resilience in farming systems: soil, water, diversity and communities. Examples of these practices are: agroforestry, water harvesting, diversifying crops and livestock and investing in community initiatives.

Unfortunately there are also practices that make farmers more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These include the use of external inputs such as agrochemicals. A reliance on a single crop grown as a monoculture increases the risk of disease. When these crops fail, farmers do not harvest anything.

Farmer's testimonies

The following are testimonies of farmers in Kenya using various techniques of ecological farming. Listen to their inspiring stories for change!

Greenpeace Campaign

Greenpeace is campaigning for ecological farming in Africa. We want donors and funders of agricultural development in Africa to fund the small-scale farmers who are already feeding Africa. Ecological farming provides the most appropriate tools for farmers that, and as we have shown through this project, offers multiple interventions to build resilience to climate change.

This week for World Food Day, on the 16th of October, there will be a march in Nakuru, Kenya, bringing the message of ecological farming and food sovereignty to the local governments. There will also be a public discussion on with local farmers ecological agriculture and keeping the region GE free. You can find more info and follow what is happening from the ground live via twitter @Greenpeaceafric .

Find more information about Greenpeace's work on ecological farming here.