The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Kenya, Her Excellency, Henriette Geiger, has launched the Kenya Rangelands Ecosystems services pRoductivity (RangER) Program at Ruko Community Conservancy in Baringo.
The RangER program is funded by the EU to a tune of Euro 5 million with the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), leading the consortia composed of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), E4Impact, World Agroforestry (ICRAF), , Community Safety Initiative (CSI), AMAYA Triangle Initiative (ATI), County Governments of Baringo, Laikipia, Samburu and Isiolo.
The Kenya RangER program launched on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, is a 3- year-project that seeks to adopt an integrated landscape approach in the four arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) counties constituting the AMAYA Triangle region namely; Laikipia, Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo counties.
The program aims to enhance the productivity of ecosystem services provided by rangelands within AMAYA Triangle through investments in co-production of knowledge to inform counties, inter-counties and national government in decision making, 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.
80% of Kenya’s land mass is Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). 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, invasive plant species and unsustainable grazing.
Ambassador Geiger was “happy to see all the four Governors working together…setting the example for all to work together. What EU is bringing is a simple gift of solidarity and without you, it is not possible.”
She acknowledged the positive strides undertaken by the communities, ” I am excited by what I have seen. You are fighting for the future generation. You suffer from climate change and EU is committed to mitigate the impact of climate change,” and urged area residents to listen to their leaders, adding that “without peace there is no life, no livelihood and no development and no happiness.”
Amb. Geiger, hailed the efforts made by the leaders to bring the communities together, adding that “As EU, we are proud to support what you are doing and declare the RangER program officially launched.”
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).
The program is implemented by a consortium of five technical partners, including Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology which is leading the consortium’s activities in co-production of knowledge to guide and inform project interventions in the AMAYA landscape.
JKUAT areas of expertise include; land use planning, water and wildlife resources management, dryland farming and rangeland management.
Dr. Clifford Obiero, Prof. David Mburu, Prof. James Messo, Dr. Mathew Kigomo, Mr. Geofrey Waweru, Ms. Robai Liambila and Mr. Wycliffe Nyang’au, are spearheading knowledge production to guide and inform interventions in the Amaya Triangle Landscape.
Under the project, JKUAT will work towards improving and strengthen technical capacity to facilitate monitoring, analysis, interpretation of agriculture and natural resources information for sustainable land use.
According to Dr. Obiero, the JKUAT Project Coordinator, the university experts will also “undertake land suitability analysis, develop integrated land use in maps, Develop management strategies for degraded lands and control of invasive species and guiding development policies.”
The JKUAT team present at the function included Dr. Clifford Obiero, Prof. David Mburu (Principal, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) who represented the Vice Chancellor, Ms. Robai Liambila, Mr. Wycliffe Nyang’au, Teresia Gichungu and Anne Mukwana.
The team engaged the EU Ambassador at the JKUAT exhibition stand where the Ambassador had an opportunity to sample various academic programmes offered by the University. Prof. Mburu also used the occasion to speak about the JKUAT academic programmes urging potential students from the area to seek admission at the university.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is a local Non- governmental organization, currently supporting 43 community conservancies in northern and coastal Kenya.
NRT supports the conservancies with governance, technical skills, conflict resolution, livelihoods, fundraising and enterprise development. Under this consortium, NRT is a lead partner supporting AMAYA counties to strengthen and build effective governance for the adoption of climate-smart livelihoods, deepening the community conservancy model and enhancing peace and security in the landscape.
The launch ceremony was also attended by representatives from the four counties including Governor Ndiritu Mureithi (Laikipia), Isiolo Deputy Governor, Dr. Abdi Issa, who is also the Chairperson Amaya Triangle Secretariat, Tiaty Member of Parliament, William Kamket, Baringo County Commissioner, Henry Wafula, NRT Director of Operations, Ousman Hussein, NRT Project Lead, Mr. Aloise Naitira and Ruko Conservancy Manager, Rebby Sebei, among others.