FAO in Kenya

FAO calls for investment in multi hazard early warning systems in addressing crisis and disasters

FAO Kenya SMT with farmer beneficiaries at the exhibition booth during the 7th Devolution Conference in Makueni County.

Over 3000 delegates from the national and county government, development institutions, private sector and other stakeholders joined the 7th Annual Devolution conference to emphasize the role and importance of sub-national governments in climate change adaptation.

The sub-national levels of government have a critical role to play as far as climate change is concerned as they operate at the local level where the greatest impacts are felt by the communities. The 3-day conference themed ‘Multi-level governance for climate action’ provided a platform to discuss and develop strategies that will address climate change.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) called on Kenya government to invest in multi hazard early warning systems to effectively address crisis and disasters.

Speaking in Makueni during the 7th annual Devolution Conference, Carla Mucavi FAO representative in Kenya said that the early warning systems will provide availability of the required data that will allow effective decision making.

“Those systems have the potential to ensure that action is taken in advance to avoid the catastrophic effects caused by disasters,” said Mucavi, adding that “mobilizing for resources is not always easy but early action is important.”

Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that has experienced prolonged crises mainly attributed to climate change. Drought and floods-related disasters have also been on the rise in frequency and intensity as well as the increase in livestock diseases incidences and even pest’s invasion. The impacts due to the multiple disasters including desert locust invasions are evident and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the country is experiencing three consecutive seasons of below average rainfall affecting around 2.4 million of Kenyans in 23 ASALs counties, facing food insecurity and in need of emergency assistance.  As a result, the President of Kenya has declared the current drought a national disaster.


“Resilience building is the solution, we have to strengthen institutional capacities at local, county and national level for early warning, preparedness and rapid response in order to sustain the shocks and crisis,” added Carla.

FAO has been on the forefront in supporting National and County governments resilience building against shocks along food systems through provision of financial and technical support to various actors along agricultural values chains affected by droughts, floods, desert locust.


According to the FAO Country Representative, working together under the UN umbrella, the government, local communities, FAO was able to anticipate action and mobilize resources that allowed in responding to emergencies especially during the locust invasion in 2019 and 2021.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative Walid Badawi echoed the sentiments stating that, “Kenya has done relatively good in being able to attract climate finance in Africa,” he said adding that, “Relying on international finances is not going be enough.”

“Through FAO’s support, the government has established the Desert Locusts Command Center that includes an information officer with the capability to provide data for early warning preparedness and response. Kenya has moved from a “nightmare scenario” (early 2020) to a manageable situation, and the government has the tools and capacity to act fast to disrupt breeding and contain locust populations. Control operations have vastly reduced locust breeding in all countries affected by the 2020-2021 upsurge. Compared to 2020, locust populations are smaller, not as widely distributed, and less numerous.” Said Carla.


According to African Development Bank, African countries are already spending between $7-$15 billion a year on climate related impacts, including the droughts and floods that we are currently experiencing at the current warming of only 1.1oC.  On its part, Kenya currently spends 8% of its GDP every five years on the impacts of drought alone.

In his opening remarks read on his behalf by Dr.Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth, the President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, commended Kenya’s bold updated Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce current greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030, up from the previous commitment of 30%.


“We recognize and support the creation of Locally Determined Contributions that can contribute towards Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution. Therefore, county governments have a critical role to play in ensuring budget allocation for climate action in their County Integration Development Plans”, he added.


On the sidelines of the Devolution Conference, the FAO Country Representative joined other dignitaries from the government and the development sector to plant a tree in commemoration of the two million tree growing initiative at the Devolution Forest site in Makueni, in a bid to tackle climate change which is on top of agenda for FAOs priority areas.

Climate change poses a critical threat to future development, particularly in developing countries where food security, water scarcity, urban poverty, high unemployment, increased industrialization activities and low access to quality healthcare is widespread and key assets such as infrastructure are underdeveloped for even current needs.

Kenya is bearing the brunt of climate change impacts and the associated socio-economic losses. The imperative to tackle climate change is priority as the situation is exacerbated by the high dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources.

During the conference, women farmers that benefit from FAO projects exhibited their products at the FAO Exhibition stand. The rich organic farm produce is an outcome of a training on vegetable preservation and how to increase productivity by utilizing technologies such as conservation agriculture and kitchen gardens, with an aim to improve food security and nutrition in arid and semi-arid lands. Among the products on display were Juice and Jam made from baobab and tamarind fruits, baobab flour, green gram flour and cowpeas flour.


About the Devolution Conference

The Annual Devolution conference is an important event that provides a platform for stakeholders in the devolution space to evaluate the performance of both levels of governments on matters of policy, legislation, accountability, good governance, and service delivery among others. It also provides an opportunity for sharing challenges, opportunities and best practices from a local and international perspective.



Pauline Akolo

Communications Specialist,

e-mail: [email protected]