This booklet showcases adaptation solutions proven to be successful in response to specific issues caused or accelerated by, climate change that negatively affect mountain communities’ livelihoods and ecosystems.

" Diversifying the activities supporting every-day life through creating new income opportunities is not only improving the economic situation of local communities but also reducing risks associated with overdependence on natural resources. Often, this has several co-benefits such as reducing the pressure on the environment, mitigating the risk of natural disasters, and improving gender equality.

Communities in the mountains of East Africa mostly rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, providing food and income to the growing population. Agriculture is one of the sectors significantly affected by climate change. Seasonal variability with more frequent droughts and heavy rainfall events destroys harvests thus reducing agricultural output and increases pressures on arable land. Often, farming areas encroach on biodiverse forested areas, causing further environmental degradation and increased rates of soil loss through erosion. Diversification of livelihoods helps mountain communities to better adapt to future changes and become more resilient against climate shocks (Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO] 2015).

A good understanding of the socioecological context is essential, when developing an adaptation solution that involves livelihood diversification (Wright et al. 2016). Mountain communities in East Africa are unique in terms of the climatic, environmental, social and economic context. This means, that upscaling and transferal of adaptation solutions require approaches tailored to the specific environment and community. Women continue to carry a large burden of the work in food production and the household, making them less responsive to diversification efforts. Hence, it is important to especially empower women and girls in diversifying income opportunities (FAO 2015).

A common theme of the solutions presented subsequently is that they follow an integrated approach in helping mountain communities adapt to climate change while simultaneously providing benefits for their natural environment. Sustainable beekeeping is one such example of a Nature-based Solution (NbS). It supports pollination of natural vegetation and agricultural crops, reduces human-wildlife conflict and produces honey that can be sold in local markets. Creating nature-based activities such as sustainable fish farming in the mountains and a new regional tourism circuit require training and economic investment. Such activities result in job creation, increased awareness for the natural environment´s values and contribute to a sustainable and climate-conscious development of rural mountain areas in the EAC."

Affiliate Partner

UN Environment Programme

Type of publication


Type of Ecosystem


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