NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya on Wednesday launched a $34 million project aimed at cushioning the effects of drought caused by climate change, targeting communities living in arid regions of the country.

Finance and environment ministry officials said the five-year Green Climate Fund would go towards helping 620,000 people in 11 regional counties in arid and semi-arid areas and would aim to restore over 500,000 hectares of rangelands.

Keriako Tobiko, the minister for environment and forestry, said these areas account for 80% of the East African country's land mass, and were more susceptible to the effects of climate change.

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"These areas and communities living in these areas are most vulnerable; pastoral communities, nomadic communities and really this programme helps to address the most deserving of cases," Tobiko told an online briefing at the project's launch.

Kenya loses 2.0–2.4% of its gross domestic product annually due to effects of climate change, such as drought and floods, according to a 2018 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics study. The study also showed droughts cost Kenya 8% of GDP every five years.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa. Editing by Omar Mohammed and Mark Potter)