Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program :: Center for Science and Technology Policy Research

About the internship program Application information Summer Placements Notes from the field


notes from the field

These field notes are personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre

Amy Quandt

Isiolo, Kenya
May 18 – August 5

July 30, 2013

Merti (one of the survey communities) from a plateau on the edge of townHello everyone.  I am sad to say that this will be my last blog post because in a few days I will be finishing up my internship!  It feels like I just started but I have been in Isiolo for over two months now. 

The last two weeks have been very busy finishing data analysis and writing up my findings.  And yesterday as a final part of my internship I presented the results and recommendations from the climate-smart, ecosystem-friendly livelihoods assessment to the Partners for Resilience team.  This team includes Netherlands Red Cross, Kenya Red Cross, Cordaid, Wetlands International, Merti Integrated Development Project, and the Waso River Users Empowerment Platform.  The presentation and discussion about my results took up a full morning and it was an incredible experience to be part of on the ground development work and making recommendations that matter and will make a difference in the lives of vulnerable communities in Isiolo County.

Overall, I tried to focus my recommendations on livelihood activities and interventions that will both strengthen the current livelihood activities and increase their resilience to climate change and improve their impact on the environment, as well as diversifying livelihood activities.  Diversifying livelihood options can be important to increasing the overall resilience of communities to climate change impacts because if one livelihood is destroyed by drought or flood they then have other activities to fall back on. 

Fish pond in BuratSome of my recommendations include supporting livestock, which is a major livelihood in some of the project areas, by helping vulnerable households switch from cattle to camels and goats which are more drought resistant.  Additionally, most of the communities practice agriculture, although some of the communities are very new to farming and are not farming in a climate-smart or ecosystem-friendly way.  However, during the surveys many households expressed a desire to learn more about farming and I therefore recommended that PfR support climate-smart and ecosystem-friendly farming techniques including agroforestry, drought resistant crop varieties, permaculture, and conservation farming.  Additionally, the use of greenhouses is a great idea in towns where space is limited and vulnerable groups need to get the maximum benefit from the few resources that they have.  As far as diversifying livelihoods goes, switching households that are currently practicing environmentally harmful livelihoods such as charcoal burning and firewood selling to poultry keeping and fish farming is a viable option.  Those households turn to charcoal burning because they have no other options and need to feed their family, however teaching them fish farming or poultry keeping skills will not only help supplement the household income but can provide important sources of protein.     

Before concluding my final blog entry I want to thank everyone that made my summer internship possible.  There are too many people to name but I am very grateful to everyone, both in the US and in Kenya, that has made this possible and helped me gain on the ground experience in helping communities become more resilient to climate change and ecosystem degradation.

Top photo: Merti (one of the survey communities) from a plateau on the edge of town
Bottom photo: Fish pond in Burat