Climate Change Attribution and Vulnerability in Kenya

Project summary

The intensity of extreme weather events is on the rise everywhere causing disruption and often harm to our lives and livelihoods. In recent years, climate scientists have been able to measure the extent to which human-caused climate change is responsible for changes in the frequency and magnitude of such weather events. However, current studies predominantly focus on hazards affecting the global North and on understanding changes in weather patterns in isolation from socio-economic and political factors conditioning the resilience of a community. This raises a crucial question about how these advances in climate sciences can be combined with a human-centered approach to vulnerability to create climate-resilient societies. In this project, we address this increasing need for linking climate change attributions with vulnerability assessments by building a transdisciplinary framework that helps to disentangle drivers of climate-related disasters. This will create a much-needed basis to highlight the role of vulnerability and exposure rather than shifting human responsibility to nature. Through case studies in different rural and urban communities in Kenya, the project merges scientific developments in climate attribution science with social-political understandings of vulnerability and provides an novel framework to document disasters. Further, this combination will serve as a basis to push the frontiers of climate change communication and address problematic framings of disasters and weather extremes. Our proposed framework provides a platform for ensuring appropriate representations of the link between climate change, hazards, exposure and vulnerability to support adaptation measures and communication activities on climate risks. This will be the first large-scale interdisciplinary study in the region focusing on heat and compound events, providing a new framework to integrate CAS and vulnerability to present a holistic understanding of climate change and its impacts. We will contribute with the first steps to create an inventory of heat and compounding events’ impacts in Kenya for a wide range of actors involved in climate change communication and adaptation decision-making. The methodologies developed have furthermore the potential to serve as a template for the implementation of heatwave and drought warnings in other countries in the global South.

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