Trends in Climate Variables (Temperature and Rainfall) and Local Perceptions of Climate Change in Lamu, Kenya

Community adaptation to the negative impacts of climate change benefits from an analysis of both the trends in climate variables and people’s perception of climate change. This paper contends that members of the local community have observed changes in temperature and rainfall patterns and that these perceptions can be positively correlated with meteorological records. This is particularly useful for remote regions like Lamu whereby access to weather data is spatially and temporally challenged. Linear trend analysis is employed to describe the change in temperature and rainfall in Lamu using monthly data obtained from the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) for the period 1974–2014. To determine local perceptions and understanding of the trends, results from a household survey are presented. Significant warming trends have been observed in the study area over the period 1974–2014. This warming is attributed to a rise in maximum temperatures. In contrast to temperature, a clear picture of the rainfall trend has not emerged. Perceptions of the local community closely match the findings on temperature, with majority of the community identifying a rise in temperature over the same period. The findings suggest that the process of validating community perceptions of trends with historical meteorological data analysis can promote adaptation planning that is inclusive and responsive to local experiences.