Information in Climate Change Adaptation in rural Kenya: a pilot field study



Partners and collaborators

University of Nairobi, Kenya

Postgraduate students

Sally Osei-Appiah


This collaboration between UK-based development researchers working on media, gender and civil society and Kenyan communication and climate science researchers seeks to develop nuanced understandings of how the local information ecosystem in rural Kenyan communities operates, and the resultant effects on local women’s ability to combine indigenous and externally-sourced knowledge in their engagement with, and pursuit of, climate change adaptation.

We focus on women’s place in information flow because they are frequently key change agents in rural communities, yet their voices may be disregarded or relegated when externally-sourced information, codified variously as ‘Western’ and/ or scientific, is privileged in adaptation strategies.  

The proposed fieldwork project pilots a multi-site information ethnography approach within rural communities in Kenya to map out where, how and why women are able to both access, as well as influence (or not), community-level knowledge processes and dissemination around climate change mitigation. We will start to develop a dynamic understanding of how indigenous knowledge circulates and is combined with information from media and other sources, to plan adaptation. This research recognises local people as sources of expert knowledge and challenges the mismatch between technocratic climate change communication and the gendered lived experiences of adapting to climate change.


This project aims to contribute directly to delivering innovative climate change and adaptation research and training.

Through partnership with the AfricanSWIFT project and the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, this research will build human capacity necessary to address the unique climate change adaptation needs of vulnerable communities in Kenya; develop innovative technologies and community participation; and provide expert advice for national and regional policy formulation and implementation.

The collaboration will achieve these outcomes by:

  • Bringing together researchers in the field of media and communication with researchers in the field of climate change, and highlighting their mutual importance to effectively addressing the risks that climate change presents to Kenya’s economic, social and political future, particularly for marginalised rural women and girls;
  • Training local researchers in new methodologies that will deliver in-depth insights into the problem of climate from the perspective of those most at risk;
  • Ensuring that local researchers understand how these methods can be applied to other contexts where local-level change is both critically important yet stubbornly elusive.