Impacts of Climate Change and Hydropower Development on the Community Livelihoods in Sondu Miriu River Basin, Kenya

  •  Willis Owino Ochieng    
  •  Christopher Oludhe    
  •  Simeon Dulo    
  •  Lydia Olaka    


Hydropower is sustainable and environmentally friendly source of energy worldwide. Driven by streamflow, it is vulnerable to climate change and land use change. The hydropower production from the two-existing run-of-river hydropower projects on the Sondu Miriu river are vulnerable to rainfall variability and requires proper understanding of the climate change trends and policies to support sustainable hydropower development and put in place strategies for building resilience for the local communities. The main objective of this paper was to examine the impacts of both the climate change and the hydropower development projects on the livelihoods of the community living within the Sondu Miriu River basin. Participatory methodologies involving administration of questionnaires at household level and focus group discussions with the local leaders and actors were applied to determine the impacts of climate change and the hydropower development on the community livelihoods within the basin. The socioeconomic status of the basin indicates that majority of the households (>59%) are poor and earn below 8 US dollars per day. The employment rate is extremely low with only 22% in formal employment. About 49% of the households still use wood fuel and charcoal as energy sources which is a threat to catchment conservation. Strengthening community resilience to climate change impacts is one of the benefits to be derived from the hydropower projects by supporting appropriate adaptation strategies within the existing policy framework.

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