Climate services for smallholder farmers in Kenya

2019 – 2020

Climate change is impacting agricultural systems in Kenya. In the future, these impacts are expected to get worse. The goal of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)* demonstrator was to make climate information available to Kenyan farmers, to support them in adapting to a changing climate.

What did the project entail?
For this Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)* demonstrator, we partnered with SMHI, Wageningen Environmental Research (WEnR) and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Juja. We created a climate atlas for smallholder farmers and implemented a training program for (agricultural) officials. To this end we used the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), whose Climate Data Store contains freely-available quality-assured climate datasets and tools. This climate atlas and the training program will become part of the newly-established ‘Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation’ at JKUAT.

Goal of the project
Climate information is ‘hidden’ in the results of scientific climate models. To gain access you need scientific training, good tools (hardware and software) and time and money. This is far from the daily practice of the Kenyan smallholder farmer. In this project we wanted to bridge the gap between specialized, abstract and complex scientific data and practically applicable information for the end user.

How did we proceed?
Experts on climate and agriculture, SMHI and WEnR, edited the data available through the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) based on the needs of smallholder farmers, the end users. Together with JKUAT and local governments, we have organized ‘Climate Field Schools’, where (agricultural) officials receive training in handling climate information.

Atlas expanded for all of Kenya
We began with seasonal and climate forecasts for two regions: Kiambu and Kajiado. We have since expanded the expert tool in the climate atlas to cover all of Kenya. We are also now adding teaching materials on climate change and information on measures farmers can take. One of the goals is for Kenyans to be able to develop their own climate atlases in the future. We are therefore also providing training to help them get started.

Draft version of the homepage of the Climate Atlas

Media coverage
This project received attention in a news release from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In addition, the project won an award at the Copernicus Climate Change Service Gala on October 15, 2021.

What is the Copernicus Climate Change Service?
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) is one of the six information service themes of the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme and is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), mandated by the European Union.

More information
In the article ‘Co-creation of a scalable climate service for Kenyan smallholder farmers’ we describe how we developed the climate atlas for the Kajiado and Kiambu regions. Do you have any questions or do you want to know more about the project? Then please contact Sophie van der Horst.