Access to climate change information and support services by the vulnerable groups in semi-arid Kenya for adaptive capacity development

Access to climate change information and support services by the vulnerable groups in semi-arid Kenya for adaptive capacity development

Study examining vulnerable people's use of information dissemination pathways in semi-arid Kenya

Despite being projected to face the greatest impact of climate change, vulnerable people of the semi-arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa have inadequate access to the support services and information they need to build their adaptive capacity to an effective level. Focusing on the semi-arid region of Kenya, this study aims to: determine the perception of recent impacts of climate change; characterise the information and support services accessed by local people; identify the pathways through which information and services are accessed; and evaluate the user-friendliness of the dissemination pathways.

The methodology is explained in depth, including information on the site of the study, sampling sizes and procedures, and data collection. Vulnerable people are defined here as married women within the ages 24-60 and the elderly; the dissemination pathways explored include mass-, print- and electronic-media, and community-based channels. Technical details of the various methods of statistical analysis used are also presented.

Key findings include the following.

  • Over 70 per cent of vulnerable people perceived 'severe' or 'very severe' changes in rainfall, droughts, floods and diseases in the last five years.
  • High levels of illiteracy make printed dissemination pathways problematic, especially for early warning systems.
  • Radio is principally used for accessing information on rainfall and diseases.
  • Extension services are more comprehensive sources of information and support. Training is required, however, to help extension agents to better understand probabilities and weather reports.
  • Within local government administration, the greatest concentration is on disseminating disease information, both human and livestock, through local chiefs and village elders.
  • Indigenous knowledge is often accessed in reference to droughts and floods, with community members claiming to be able to make predictions on a number of indicators.
In terms of preferred methods of access overall, 88.5 per cent of women said 'radio', whilst 83 per cent of the elderly chose 'indigenous knowledge', with extension services second choice for both groups. Although radio and information communication technologies (ICTs) offer great potential, they lack the trust that comes with human contact. This means that a mix, including extension service and indigenous knowledge, should be utilised − provided key agents are identified and trained in interpreting the data.
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