USAID Paves the Way for Climate Smart Practices in Arid Kenya

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiated a groundbreaking $6 million program last week.

In a bid to bolster climate resilience and support small businesses in northern Kenya, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiated a groundbreaking $6 million program last week. The program aims to aid small businesses and financial institutions in implementing climate-smart practices to combat the recurring challenges posed by climate change in the region.

Climate-smart practices are strategies and techniques aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change while promoting sustainable development. These practices encompass a wide range of actions across various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, water management, energy production, transportation, and urban planning.

Northern Kenya has long been plagued by a harsh climate, characterized by recurring droughts and sporadic floods, which devastate livelihoods and exacerbate food insecurity. The area’s 10 counties heavily rely on livestock for sustenance and income, but the fluctuating weather patterns have decimated animals, pastures, and crops, leaving millions in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Recognizing the urgent need to address these challenges, USAID allocated $38 million in loans and investments to foster resilience among small businesses across the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya. The newly launched $6 million program constitutes a vital component of this broader initiative.

Abubakar Aidarus, the head of Solargen, an organization that provides power sources and irrigation tools to farmers in Garissa and Wajir counties, expressed gratitude for the support received from USAID. Aidarus emphasized that the investment has enabled Solargen to expand its reach and services to more communities, particularly those marginalized from mainstream financial systems and energy grids.

Venny Mayaka, working with a non-governmental organization implementing the USAID Kuza program in northern Kenya, highlighted the program’s focus on addressing the community’s most pressing needs in mitigating the impact of climate change. Through Kuza, USAID endeavors to bridge the gap by providing access to financial services and offering catalytic financing to address water scarcity, technical assistance, and other essential services crucial for community resilience.

Aidarus underscored the significance of financial support in empowering small businesses, enabling them to support their customers and repay loans promptly. He emphasized that access to constant, reliable, and affordable power is instrumental in boosting the income of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the region.

Mayaka reiterated USAID’s commitment to financing initiatives aimed at tackling climate change issues, emphasizing the need for scaling up investments in climate finance, environmental conservation, and innovation. She emphasized the importance of reaching more micro and small enterprises through financial institutions while promoting the development of agile products tailored to address climate-related challenges.

In line with its climate change objectives, USAID disclosed plans to develop a digital tool facilitating data entry and capturing data points related to reducing carbon emissions, enhancing energy access, and promoting financial inclusion. The agency emphasized that this tool would ensure that investments align with its climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

As climate change continues to pose existential threats to vulnerable communities, initiatives like the USAID program offer a beacon of hope , providing much-needed support to bolster resilience and foster sustainable development in the face of adversity.