This rapid review explores the evidence of indirect connections between conflict, vulnerability and climate change in Kenya. The connections between climate change and conflict are complex, dependent, and not fully understood; robust scientific evidence of this relationship remains obscure, with debates ongoing. Evidence suggesting a direct, linear relationship between conflict and climate-related or climate-sensitive factors is contested (see Adger et al., 2014); this review does not go into detail on this debate or seek to make a direct connection (see Price, 2019). There is, however, some agreement in the literature on indirect links and mediating factors where climate-related change can influence factors that lead to or exacerbate conflict under certain circumstances. There are also areas where vulnerabilities to conflict and climate change impacts intersect.
Evidence from northern and coastal Kenya was prioritised at the request of the DFID advisers. Some other countries with similar contexts were also explored to a lesser degree. There are many different forms of violence. The rise of violent extremism in the Horn of Africa region is associated with the emergent regional security threat posed by Somalia’s al-Shabaab group. Non-climate push and pull factors (such as unemployment, corruption, culture, ethnic tensions) are key when considering violence and inter-communal conflict in Kenya. There is evidence that climate-related disasters (/impacts) and conflict share both underlying vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies. Although generalisations are difficult as local contexts vary markedly. The literature emphasises the importance of considering context and understanding conflict dynamics and projected climate change impacts at the local level. Political, spatial and temporal dimensions should also be included when studying these links. Just as conflict often reinforces already existing vulnerability, exposure and inequality, so can climate-related effects, which will not be felt equally by all (Sida, 2018). Likewise conflict is not necessarily bad and cooperation is not necessarily good (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, 2018d). This review provides some brief highlights of areas where vulnerabilities may interact.