Kenya’s greenhouse gas inventory for livestock emissions

Our project "Reducing enteric methane for improving food security and livelihoods" is a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC). The project aims to support low and middle income countries identify system specific technologies and interventions to increase livestock productivity, food security and reduce enteric methane emissions per unit of product. 

We are supporting work in Kenya to identify emission mitigation opportunities, develop an action plan for livestock greenhouse gas accounting and methane mitigation, and facilitate the implementation of its Nationally Determined Contribution. 


This project has two main objectives:

  • To identify innovative low-cost or no-cost solutions that can be packaged together to reduce enteric methane emissions, while at the same time delivering multiple benefits to farmers and producers. 
  • To build capacty to support enhanced data collection for the greenhouse gas inventory on livestock emissions and improve the accuracy of dairy emission estimates in the national inventory system, which will enable Kenya to measure and report progress towards its NDC. 

Why we're doing this work

As countries increase their ambitions to achieve the Paris Agreement, it is essential to investigate how the livestock sector can reduce emissions under different temperature scenarios. This can enhance climate transparency, help countries improve their mitigation targets and facilitate the flow of financial and technological resources for the livestock sector, thus enabling farmers to contribute to climate action.

Kenya is Africa’s second largest milk producer, with about 4.6 million dairy cattle. Kenya’s dairy sector contributes about 14 percent of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) and 3.5 percent of total GDP. Most of the milk is produced on smallholder farms, and milk sales contribute significantly to farmers’ incomes, food security and nutrition, and provides employment in the formal and informal dairy sectors. However, dairy cattle contributes about 8% of national greenhouse gas emissions, which continues to increase as the number of cattle grow.

In its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), Kenya put forth adaptation and mitigation actions to tackle its growing emissions and contribute to global efforts to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees. These mitigation actions will play a key role in realizing the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.


Milk production in Kenya is predominantly managed by small scale farmers, who own one to three dairy animals, and produce about 70 percent of the milk in the country.

The dairy cattle sector in Kenya is responsible for about 12.3 Megatonnes (Mt) CO2 eq. Within this, 88 percent of the emissions come from methane produced by the rumination of cows and 11 percent from the management of stored manure (FAO,2017).

Recognizing the potential to attract climate finance and private sector investment in dairy development, the Kenyan State Department of Livestock of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries developed a nationally appropriate mitigation action (NAMA) for its dairy sector that is expected to reach 227,000 dairy producers and yield an additional 6.6 billion litres of milk annually, while reducing GHG emissions by 8.8 Mt CO2 eq.

The IPCC Tier 1 method was used in Kenya’s last GHG inventory (2010) and can only reflect changes in cattle population. While Tier 1, requires the least resources, it is unable to reflect a country’s unique circumstances or trends over time other than changes in total animal numbers. More advanced methods (Tier 2 and 3) requires more detailed data that capture specifics of production systems in countries. Crucially, they also reflect changes in emissions that result from improvements in the productivity and efficiency and enable policy makers to target and design efforts for greenhouse gas mitigation.

The Tier 2 method, which can reflect change in productivity, was therefore included in a greenhouse gas quantification methodology developed for the Dairy NAMA. It soon became apparent, however, that if the inventory used a Tier 1 method and the NAMA measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system used a Tier 2 method, the emissions and emission reductions reported by each part of the MRV system would be incompatible with each other. Also, Kenya’s first NDC was based on emission scenarios made using the inventory’s Tier 1 method, which cannot reflect productivity change. The greenhouse effects of change in dairy productivity could not therefore be reflected in the scenarios or targets of the NDC.

Adopting a Tier 2 methodology in the national inventory was therefore seen as a key step to link project-level initiatives, such as the dairy NAMA, with national MRV systems for coherent greenhouse reporting.

Pollutants (SLCPs)