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CR 67:87-97 (2016)  -  DOI:

Impacts of climate change on agricultural household welfare in Kenya

Richard Mulwa1,*, Karuturi P. C. Rao2, Sridhar Gummadi2, Mary Kilavi3

1Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and policy (CASELAP), University of Nairobi, Kenya
2International Centre for Research in the Arid and Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
3Kenya Meteorological Department, Nairobi, Kenya
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Natural and artificial (e.g. agricultural) ecosystems confer benefits in the form of provisioning, regulating, cultural and habitat/supporting goods and services. Degradation of ecosystems by natural and anthropogenic drivers compromises their ability to provide these goods and services. In Kenya, as in other regions worldwide, climate change and variability are driving weather pattern changes, and causing seasonal shifts. Such changing weather patterns and seasonal shifts act as stresses on agricultural ecosystems, compromising the production of agricultural goods and services, and leading to reduced farm returns, reduced household incomes, and increase in poverty levels. Using the example of Embu County in central Kenya as a case study, this study seeks to assess the impacts of climate change on household welfare (net farm returns, per capita incomes, and poverty) in current agricultural production systems. To address this objective we conducted a multi-disciplinary study involving climatologists, crop modellers and economic modellers. Primary data from 441 households were collected using a combination of stratified and multistage sampling. In climate modelling, 5 climate models were used to downscale future projected climate change scenarios for the mid-century timeframe of 2041-2070. Crop modelling for maize was done using DSSAT and APSIM crop models. Representative agricultural pathways were used to project the production of other non-modelled crops and dairy. Finally, economic analyses were done using the trade-off analysis multi-dimensional impact assessment tool. Results show that about 36 to 66% of the households in agro-ecological zones (AEZs) receiving limited rainfall are likely to lose from climate change. In addition, crop models indicate mixed results for net farm returns, per capita income and poverty levels in different AEZs, with poverty level declines being between 0.6 and 3.8% for APSIM, and between 0.7 and 11% for DSSAT. This therefore calls for adaptation, especially for households in AEZs likely to experience negative impacts from climate change.

KEY WORDS: Crop modelling · Economic modelling · Household welfare

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Cite this article as: Mulwa R, Rao KPC, Gummadi S, Kilavi M (2016) Impacts of climate change on agricultural household welfare in Kenya. Clim Res 67:87-97.

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