Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya's economic development and accounts for about 30% of the country's gross domestic product, 60% of export earnings, and 70% of the labor force. This sector is the largest source of employment (Government of Kenya, 1995). More than 85% of the population survives in one way or the other on agricultural activities (crops and livestock). Agriculture in Kenya is mainly rain-fed, with little irrigation. About 46% of the rural population live below the poverty line, with 70% of them below food poverty line.
Like many parts of the tropics, the majority of agricultural activities in Kenya are rain dependent. Small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and wildlife are most often affected by drought, with crops withering and livestock as well as wildlife dying. Drought of more than one season overwhelms the social fabric, as crops, livestock, wild animals, and humans die. Such droughts affect pastoral communities (e.g., the Masai in Kenya and Tanzania) by killing livestock and game animals, forcing these communities to invade the nearby towns and cities to find remnants of patches of grass still left there or grass growing at the roadsides. The death of game animals affects ecotourism. Interannual climate variability that often leads to the recurrence of climate extremes such as droughts has far-reaching impacts on agricultural production.
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