The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), European Union (EU), E4Impact, World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Community Safety Initiative (CSI), AMAYA Triangle Initiative (ATI), Baringo County Government, Laikipia County Government, Samburu County Government and Isiolo County Government officially launched the Kenya Rangelands Ecosystems services pRoductivity (RangER) Program at the Ruko Community Conservancy last Wednesday.
Kenya RangER programme is a European Union (EU) funded project that seeks to adopt an integrated landscape approach in the four Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) counties constituting the AMAYA Triangle regions in Kenya: Laikipia, Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo.
The program aims to enhance the productivity of ecosystem services provided by rangelands within AMAYA Triangle counties through investments in evidence-based climate-smart feed resources, an array of climate-smart tree-wildlife-and natural resource-based livelihoods, and enhancing the capacity of AMAYA Triangle counties in governance, peace and security for both wildlife and people.
Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) constitute 80% of Kenya’s land mass. The ASALs are home to the less developed populations who live on less that one USD a day, are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and are exposed to food insecurity. These lands are historically and politically marginalized; they are also economically isolated, which translates into low levels of public, private and commercial investment and poor infrastructure. Most inhabitants of ASALs depend on livestock to live, with the annual business figure from the livestock industry estimated at Kshs 10 billion (USD 100 million). Resource related conflicts occur regularly around lands scarce resources like water and livestock, livestock activities and between local communities and wildlife. Despite hosting 80% of Kenya’s biodiversity, the diverse ASAL landscapes and habitats are rapidly being lost and degraded through land fragmentation and unsustainable grazing.
The European Union Ambassador to Kenya, H. E Henriette Geiger, said: “The RangER programe provides us with the opportunity to jointly scale –up the community conservancy model and address the pressing challenges of our time including extreme climate events like drought. It allows us to improve food security of our communities through alternative livelihoods and promote circular economic activities in protected areas. We have the opportunity to create sustainable enterprises and lastin peace in the Cooperation for Peace and Development (CPD) Economic Bloc. The European Union support of €4.9 million will go towards biodiversity conservation, livelihoods improvement and peace building in the AMAYA Triangle Counties of Baringo, Laikipia, Samburu an Isiolo. This is part of the #TeamEurope actions with Denmark, France, Sweden and Hungary. The RangER programme works towards mitigating the impacts of climate change.”
Target beneficiaries of the program are the communities within Baringo, Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu representing 25 existing community conservancies with a population of 183,158 local people including 89,015 women and 137,552 youth.
The communities in the region are exposed to three mains risks, in order of importance: drought, livestock diseases, and conflicts that are linked to scarcities of rangeland resources. Droughts in particular, have resulted in a shortage of pasture and have caused water resources such as streams and springs, to dry up and permanent water source levels dropping.
“I am confident the County governments of Samburu, Isiolo, Laikipia and Baringo in partnership with the European Union through its consortium partners shall implement this programme expediently for the benefit of the region and its people, ” Stanley Kiptis, Baringo County Governor, ATI Chairperson.
Degraded ecosystems and decline in productivity of the ecosystem services they provide, violent conflicts associated with climate change, policy and institutional (governance) failures and subsequently scarce pasture and water resources and dwindling wildlife numbers present a grave concern, which – if allowed to persist – will lead to reduced economic contributions of wildlife to Kenya’s development, poverty alleviation and sustainability of the resource base.
“The ranger programme is a very unique opportunity that brings technical partners and county governments to implement some identified community needs within the AMAYA region. Integrated landscapes will enable local communities to continue, in a sustained manner, to derive much needed ecosystem services while conserving biodiversity,” Tom Lalampaa, CEO, Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT).