Rural Community Coping Strategies with Drought- Driven Food Insecurity in Kwale County, Kenya
MetadataShow full item record
This paper discusses how households in Kwale in Kenya cope with drought-driven food insecurity and also provides suggestions to inform sustainable mitigation planning. This area was purposively selected because it suffers the most severe food insecurity levels in Kwale County. The main respondents were 120 households selected using stratified random sampling and 20 key informants selected purposively. Primary data was collected using questionnaires, focus group discussions and environmental observation checklists. Since the goal was to determine general trends, data analysis focused on descriptive statistics. Findings indicated that major droughts tend to occur every 10-15 years while minor ones after every 3-4 years. Failure of staple food crops and livestock losses elicits severe negative impacts on the community’s well-being. Further, technical mitigation measures perceived as effective were not necessarily the most popular with the community. For instance growing drought resistant crops was ranked first by 90% of the respondents, perception on its effectiveness placed it 4th rank in favour of water reservoirs, whose priority ranking was 7th by 25% of respondents. Similarly, diversification of income was prioritized by 71% of respondents, yet placed as second in effectiveness in favour of engaging in waged labour, whose priority ranking was 3rd by 58% of respondents. By implication, decision-making for lasting mitigation measures requires the input of farmers. In conclusion, short to medium term drought coping mechanisms should focus on diversifying food and income opportunities for households. As such farmers need to be empowered to access financial credit for investment. At the county level, investing in water resources development for irrigation agriculture and improvements in livestock management remain key long-term mitigation measures. The requisite community capacity building calls for coordinated public-private-civil society partnerships.