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Climate change, drought, and famine in Kenya : a socio-ecological analysis

The development and impacts of famines are predominantly explained by theories focusing on the social aspects of food distribution, and not on its availability. However, during the last 30 years, the frequency of droughts in Kenya and other countries in the Horn of Africa has increased. In public debates, this development is linked to global climate change, which is claimed to have led to a reduction of rainfall in recent years. In order to investigate Kenya’s hunger crises in 2009 and 2011, this paper draws on the Famine Vulnerability Analysis Model (FVAM), which focuses on socio-ecological systems as the basis for famine analysis. Thus, climatic drivers are examined as possible causes of famines, too. Our analysis found that due to a relatively high social and environmental vulnerability in Kenya, even minor shifts in climatic conditions can show major effects on food security. At least since 1960 the temperatures in most parts of Kenya rose, and simultaneously, precipitation showed decreasing trends. Additionally, rainfall has shown a widening of the standard deviation in recent years. The consequences are food scarcities on a general basis and famines that return much more frequently in recent years.


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