Why vertical policy coordination is key for climate action at county level in Kenya

As climate change effects escalate in Kenya, national and county level governments must coordinate to develop processes to support climate resilient development

Kenya has embarked on one of the fastest devolution processes in the world. Following the endorsement of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, elections in 2013 created 47 new county governments. Several sectors and functions - previously under the jurisdiction of the national government - have been devolved to the new county governments. Climate change will have an impact on many of the devolved sectors - such as agriculture and tourism, at the same time, those sectors will equally impact climate change (by i.e. emitting greenhouse gases). While at the national level, the government has a crucial role to play in setting Kenya on a low carbon climate resilient pathway, many adaptation and mitigation actions will need to be taken at the local level. Is the climate change mandate clear and coordinated across the different levels of governance?

Key role for county governments in climate action

Under the Kenyan constitution, county governments have been granted the authority and responsibility to plan the development of their county according to local needs and priorities. County governments have the mandate to prepare County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs), as the basis for their planning and budgeting process.

The need for climate change planning is also recognised in several policies and documents including the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) 2010 and the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2013. Including climate change planning and budgeting in county CIDPs is a responsibility of county governments.

Climate change agenda remains a challenge for county governments

Titus Wame, project officer at ILEG – implementing partner of the V-LED project in Kenya V-LED project in Kenya – relates in an interview that the climate change agenda is still a challenge for county governments as roles and responsibilities remain unclear:

“We have a problem with coordination between county and national government level. At the county government level, they need to take up the initiative because they have functions in terms of developing policies and bills at the county level that integrate climate change" (Titus Wamae, project officer at ILEG).

How can V-LED drive climate action in Kenya?

Moving towards a low-carbon climate resilient pathways will require people with climate change skills and knowledge. In Kwale county, V-LED is collaborating with the county government to build capacities for local climate planning and action.

“In Kenya, the overall goal of the V-LED project is to link: community actions, county government and the national government – to provide that coordination, and to strengthen the subnational level – in our case the county level. Strengthen the capacities of the county government to develop plans that integrate climate change and link these to the national priorities and targets” (Titus Wamae, project officer at ILEG).

Civil society organisations will also have a key role to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation in Kwale County. The devolution process allows them greater participation in the budgeting and planning process of their county. V-LED is working closely with CSOs and local communities and will train them to develop proposals for bankable mitigation initiatives. A key grassroots stakeholder who is supporting the V-LED project in the county is the Kwale County Natural Resource Network (KCNRN).

The network, formed in 2011, brings together 58 civil society organisations to promote the sustainable management of natural resources in Kwale. The network mobilises communities to play an active role in the formulation of policies and legislations: “we are empowering the citizens of Kwale to participate in policy and budget making processes, (…) for their voices to be heard during planning sessions” (Mohamed Ali, coordinator of KCNRN).

Learn more about the activities of the network and the environmental challenges it tackles in Kwale, in the interview with Mohammed Ali, Coordinator of the Kwale County Natural Resource Network (KCNRN).