From scorched earth to thriving kitchen gardens: How women in Kenya are building their resilience to the climate crisis

Women in Tangulbei, Kenya are no strangers to persistent drought – a dire reality made worse by the escalating climate crisis. With more erratic rainfall and persistent drought posing a significant threat to the rights, livelihoods and safety of women and girls.


The Gender Responsive Alternatives to Climate Change (GRACC) project, funded through ActionAid’s Arise Fund with matched funding from the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), has invested in women’s leadership and disaster response planning for six years. By providing long term and multi-year funding, the Arise Fund has had a transformational impact on the lives of women in communities in Kenya affected by climate-induced drought.

“Women are now taking on leadership roles in disaster committees in the communities in which ActionAid works. Women are holding leaders and the government to account. They are saying we saw the budget; it had this amount for disaster and [the disaster] has happened but you are yet to respond. We have worked with women to bring out the power within themselves,” said Susan Otieno, Executive Director at ActionAid Kenya.

Abigail’s story

Abigail met the ActionAid team at her homestead surrounded by a thriving kitchen garden and vibrantly green pawpaw trees. She expressed how immensely proud she is of the livelihood she has built in such harsh conditions. Before joining the GRACC program, Abigail found it impossible to believe that anything could grow in the semi-arid land around her home.

“When the dry season starts, all the trees shed their leaves and you do not wish to live here as the scorching sun batters the landscape,” said Abigail, a young woman living in Tangulbei, Kenya.

In 2021, like many young women her age, Abigail was struggling to find a job. Desperate to apply her skills and education, she joined an ActionAid-run Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA) group. The VSLA is a women-led savings group that provides women with control over their finances and access to training on climate-resilient livelihoods.

Through being a part this collective of women, Abigail has succeeded in creating a climate resilient future for herself and her family despite the challenges of a prolonged drought.

“We also learned how to form groups, write a proposals and search for funds and grants to push for our preferred agenda, which would elevate us women away from desperation to independence.”

By investing in the skills and leadership capabilities of women, the Arise Fund is supporting women like Abigail to effectively prepare for slow onset disasters like climate-induced droughts and build their financial independence.

To learn more about the Gender Responsive Alternatives to Climate Change (GRACC) project, read our 2023 Impact Report.