Here’s Why You Should Get Involved In The Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan

The 2017 Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is scheduled to take place from the 21st to the 25th of July. A number of registered volunteers and partners shall join the 5 days walk that aims to sensitize river users on the need to conserve the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The Caravan will kick off from Ilmotiok Community, Laikipia County, and will journey downstream to end at Archers Post, Samburu County. Participants in the Camel Caravan will spend time with every host community along the way, in a series of interactive sessions that will include screening of documentaries that focus on the need to conserve the Ewaso Ngi’ro Basin Ecosystem.
MKEWP, whose secretariat is Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), will be supporting this initiative, and will be bringing together downstream and upper stream users to engage in meaningful dialogue around issues surrounding cooperative management and conservation of the Basin.

Rivers can both unify and divide us. The increase in human populations, as well as agricultural activities, infrastructure development and the effects of climate change has put tremendous strain on our water resources. Water users both upstream and downstream often lack a shared understanding of the threats facing a particular river system, and fail to effectively collaborate around integrated water resources management. This is leading to conflict and an escalation of the threats facing river systems.
Kenya’s Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is a unique example of a river journey initiative, based upon pastoralist traditions. The Ewaso Ng’iro River finds its source on the north-western slopes of the iconic Mt Kenya, and flows through arid and semi-arid lands into the Merti Aquifer and Lorian Swamp, after which it passes through Somalia, joining the Jubba River. The Ewaso Ng’iro River supports livelihoods of approximately 3.6 million people.

The overall purpose of the Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is to promote cooperation and collaboration between upstream and downstream users to mitigate threats on the ecosystem as well as conflict between users. This initiative started in 2013, with the first edition funded by Partners for Resilience, IMPACT, MIDP and WRUEP. Since 2013, the event has attracted a number of stakeholders who are willing to join hands in saving the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The communities living along the Ewaso Ng’iro have used the camel caravan as a platform to engage with other stakeholders, and share the challenges facing them, their environment, and their livelihoods.

IMPACT, who is driving this initiative, invites all interested stakeholders to assist with funding or contribute in any way they can. Broad support and participation will ensure the success of this initiative.

This worthwhile cause needs your participation and help. Please contact the organisers for further information:

Joseph Lejeson Olendira: olendira@gmail.com

Olekaunga Johnson: olekaunga@yahoo.com / impactkenya2002@gmail.com

0722663090, or 0726766447.

You can also download more information about the event here.

Map Source: De Leeuw et al, 2012, Benefits of Riverine Water Discharge into the Lorian Swamp, Kenya.

The Future of Our Wildlife Depends On The Success Of The National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy

Kenya has experienced a 70% decline in wildlife numbers over the last 30 years. Extinction now challenges iconic species like wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, rhinos and giraffes, not to mention scores of other smaller animals, plants and insects. 16 months ago, we were forecasting the extinction of several vulture species in the Country.

Only Laikipia and parts of the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro landscape have seen wildlife numbers remain constant over this same period. But we continue to lose species diversity.

Efforts are still underway to collect inputs to the formulation of the National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy for Kenya after a public participation meeting held in Nanyuki on Thursday the 22nd of June. Turnout was mixed, with no county government representatives from any of the northern counties. On Friday, June 30th, the Formulation Team was in Kisumu, and then proceeded to Nakuru on Monday, July 3 where further inputs were collected. The final public engagement will occur at the Coast, in Mombasa later this week.

These efforts are collecting important inputs into the themes and approaches that should be adopted as part of a national strategy.

So far, discussions have focused on 5 major themes: (1) Space for wildlife; (2) Human-wildlife conflict; (3) Partnerships that support wildlife conservation; (4) Benefit sharing; and, (5) Research and Development.

This new National Strategy has never been more important. It’s probably our final wake-up call to get national conservation actions right. The Strategy must parallel Vision 2030, and it must demonstrate real tangible benefits to Kenyans living with, or tolerating wildlife on their lands – not the lip-service that is paid to benefit sharing and compensation to date. It must shore-up Kenya’s protected area system, and get KWS back on track.

It is estimated that we may only have 10-12 years remaining to establish the underpinnings of a successful national wildlife conservation effort. After that, our populations of wildlife will be reduced to exotic zoos and isolated islands of private wildlife collections. By 2030, our human population will have increased to almost 65M citizens – a 42% increase from our population of 2015. Our life expectancy will have increased about 4 years. About half that population will be 15 years old or less, and more than half that total population will earn less than USD $ 2 per day.

What will this Strategy say about maintaining wildlife in contemporary Kenya against these overwhelming statistical facts? It’s up to us. Get engaged! Stay involved!

Find the latest DRAFT of the National Wildlife Policy here.

The Drought And CIDPs: Be Informed. Be Engaged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Government is forecasting a continuation of the Drought. The National Drought Management Authority for Laikipia is issuing a drought emergency that is expected to last at least through October 2017. The full emergency report can be downloaded here:

They predict seriously dangerous conditions ahead, rivalling the last big drought in Kenya almost 10 years ago. Rainfall recorded for April and May was off by 50% and 30% respectively. Most vegetation recovery has been quickly compromised by hungry livestock, illegal livestock and strong winds. Most pastures are not expected to last more than a month.

Water resources are again seriously challenged. Human-Wildlife Conflicts can be expected to increase as people, livestock, and wildlife compete for water in pans, dams, and shallow wells. Rivers are already starting to experience seriously reduced flows.

LWF continues to work with NDMA on two focal areas of drought assistance. We will coordinate grazing agreements on private lands for community breeding stock, and help to secure food supplements for cattle. This means continuing to work with Borana, Ole Naishu, Lolldaiga, Ol Pejeta, and Ol Jogi commercial ranches. In addition, we are working with NRT to coordinate similar food supplements assistance to the Community Conservancies.

We have secured funds to continue monitoring river flows and will work with WRUAs to set in place (again) water rationing plans for each river. This is aimed at curbing illegal abstraction. We WRUAs to ensure downstream flow and domestic water supply. NDMA funds will be used to support WRMA and enforcement of these plans and permits.

 CIDPs: Be informed. Be engaged.

County Integrated Development Plans are the tool by which every county in Kenya establishes their development investment agenda. New CIDPs will be required by the end of this year (2017) to guide the allocations of county funding from national government.

Each CIDP is based on a 10-year sector strategy. Each sector of the county’s development agenda should have a strategy that guides their development efforts. The CIDP marries these sector plans into an integrated development investment. At least 30% of every county budget is dedicated to development investments. Historically, most counties have been unable to spend this allocation.

LWF, NRT and the Mpala Research Centre are working on a common effort to support the informed development of CIDPs for Laikipia, Baringo, Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit Counties. Previous CIDPs were woefully inadequate on the management of natural resources including rangelands, water, forests, and wildlife. No CIDPs from these counties addressed the movement of livestock across this landscape, and as a result, there are no inter-county arrangements to manage movement and pastures.

Our efforts are focused on bringing the best available information to the informed development of these new County Integration Development Plans. Stand by for updates!

You can download the woefully inadequate, existing CIDPs for the 5 counties here

Important Update From The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership

As we mark 1.5 years since the formation of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP), the Partnership continues to expand its activities in order to ensure that water challenges within the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment Area (UENNCA) are addressed collectively.

During a recent MKEWP Council meeting held on 31st May 2017, the progress of MKEWP was underlined:

  • Nordic Climate Facility (NCF) Project: Farmer groups and WRUAs have submitted their expression of interest for support to improve water use efficiency within the region. The project is moving towards the implementation phase under the technical assistance of Rural Focus. All activities must be completed this year.
  • Smart Water Agriculture – Irrigation Acceleration Platform ( IAP)- This platform was officially launched on 12th May 2017 and is now moving towards the implementation of activities that will increase water use efficiency for irrigated agriculture. LWF is hosting the Laikipia Platform and will facilitate activities through the financial support from SNV. This is a 4 year program.

New Partnerships are developing under the MKEWP umbrella:

  • British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK): The unit Commander has prioritised water conservation and management in their community outreach and development commitments. BATUK will be working with MKEWP to help communities within BATUK’s training areas to alleviate water shortages. Several discussions have already taken place between MKEWP and BATUK that include the development of a work plan to prioritise projects that focus on boreholes, dams and school catchment and sanitation systems. This work plan will also involve working with Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) who already have Sub-Catchment Management Plans.
  • Wetlands International (WI) is also involved in carrying out Water Resources Management activities in Laikipia. MKEWP will sign an MOU with WI in order to carry out a Water Allocation Plan and one Sub-Catchment Management Plan as well as capacity building on WRUAs in 2017. This is the beginning of a 4-year relationship.
  • Fauna and Flora International have secured a Darwin Initiative Grant to support communities around the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The award will start in July, and the water parts of this new project are being coordinated through the MKEWP. This is a 4-year grant.

Creating Awareness                                                                                                        

There’s nothing like a drought to highlight our weaknesses and to create opportunities. For the last two years, UENNCA has been experiencing increasing water shortages due in part, to climate change, but more-so due to illegal small-holder and commercial irrigation activities occurring at the upstream of the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin.

MKEWP will begin another round of water rationing with all the Mt. Kenya WRUAs. Each WRUA will be responsible for setting water use limits, as our rivers are already starting to go dry. Clusters of 3-4 WRUAs in each area will work to help each other establish and monitor water use. Unfortunately, only the Water Resources Management Authority is allowed to enforce the water rules.

You can help by reporting illegal water activities through the following hotline: 0740 214545

Remember, all water use from a public source requires a permit.

For the last 2 months has been spearheading a media campaign that aims at sensitizing the public, especially those living within the UENNCA, on the importance of water conservation and management. You can join the campaign and get regular updates by following MKEWP on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and by sub-scribing to the partnership’s YouTube channel. (insert connections)

Two technical studies will soon be hosted by the MKEWP. The first study will examine priority water conservation and management projects for MKEWP stakeholders, and the second will focus on a financial sustainability for the Partnership. Commercial tenders for these studies will be announced this week. The terms of reference will be available on LWF’s website.

Both studies contribute to the long-term planning of MKEWP’s future work and functions in the landscape.

Strengthening Protection Of Our Rhinos

The team from Borana Conservancy receive new uniforms

Over the past 10 years, the US and Kenyan Governments have entered into various partnerships in support of wildlife conservation. The U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and USAID are taking action to enhance wildlife management and the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes. In this effort, USAID Kenya partnered with the DOI’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) on a five-year project that uses DOI’s expertise in law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution to create a strong network of regional actors to combat wildlife trafficking throughout East Africa.

Last year, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum received a grant as a result of the partnership between USAID Kenya and the US Department of Interior (DOI). Support was received to “Enhance Security in Laikipia’s Rhino Sanctuaries”. The grant focuses on: a) Capacity building b) Anti poaching efforts c) Deterrence to Wildlife Trafficking for three conservancies in Laikipia: Ol Pejeta (OPC), Ol Jogi and Borana.

Borana Conservancy was the recipient of training for the Conservancy’s National Police Reservists (NPR). They attended a bi-annual tactics refresher-training course, which took place over a period of two weeks in February 2017. A total of 27 rangers, including their commanders, were trained. Emphasis was placed majorly on operational deployments, planning and live field firing. Laikipia regional training providers – 51 Degrees, conducted the training. Additional training on aviation support for crime scenes was provided by Space for Giants. Over 90% of Borana rangers were able to complete the training.

Borana Conservancy also spent part of their grant portion to purchase ranger uniforms, which included: shirts, trousers, belts, socks, berets and jackets. “These ranger uniforms have greatly boosted morale. We are seeing an increased confidence in executing duties and that is very important in our line of work”, says Abdi Sora, General Manager, Borana Conservancy.

Ol Pejeta and Ol Jogi Conservancies used their grant portions along similar lines.

In the Laikipia landscape, the 6 rhino conservancies (Solio, OPC, Ol Jogi, Borana, and Il Ngwesi, and Lewa) have organised around the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS). Started in 1988, the Association is among the most successful private-sector groups to support wildlife conservation, with a particular focus on black and white rhino conservation in Kenya. This group hosts about 50% of the nation’s total black rhino population, and more than 70% of the nation’s white rhino population. And of course who can forget that OPC hosts the last three northern white rhinos on earth!

LWF continues to work with these rhino conservancies to gather more support for the high costs of rhino conservation. Our efforts include more grants, and working with KWS and the Kenya Government to get wildlife conservation and rhino conservation recognised as a land use, with appropriate subsidies and incentives.

Stay tuned for updates on our expansion of this program, and additional funding.

Don’t Let The Cute Face Fool You.   Security Dogs Take Work Very Seriously!

 

 

John Tekeles has lived with dogs his entire life. Growing up in a Laikipian Maasai community, he vividly remembers traversing the landscape with his family, cattle on the horizon and dogs faithfully following close by to provide the security they needed against wildlife and other dangers. John now heads the K9 Dog Unit at the renowned Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia.

LWF recently caught up with John after a Puppy Security Dog Training to find out more about his work, how his fascination with canines has grown and how his job impacts wildlife conservation in the country. The dog training is part of the USAID/Department of Interior Grant provided through LWF to the three rhino conservancies of Laikipia – Borana, Ol Pejeta, and Ol Jogi.

 

 

 

LWF: How different are the dogs you grew up with from the ones you are working with now?

JT: We usually didn’t know the origins of the dogs we grew up with. Sometimes we would wake up and a new dog has found its way into the pack. As long as it got along with the rest and it was able to contribute, we would usually let it stay. But I now work with Bloodhounds and Belgian Malinois and we know exactly where they came from. The care we give them is exactly what they need in order to be happy and to do their job. We pay very close attention to what they eat, their daily exercise regimen, and even how much rest they get. This is very different from how our dogs back home were treated (he laughs)

 

LWF: So where did your career as a dog handler begin?

JT: I began my career in conservation over 18 years ago working as a Ranger in Kajiado. When the organisation I worked for brought in two new puppies to be trained in support of the anti-poaching unit, I moved departments and have been working with dogs ever since.

 

LWF: How many dogs do you work with now at OPC (Ol Pejeta Conservancy)?

JT: We have a good number of dogs at the moment. Each is trained to carry out specific tasks. The three areas we focus on are tracking, assault and search. They all have different personalities, but are extremely efficient at what they do.

 

LWF: Do you work as part of a team or are you a lone ranger?

JT: I could definitely not do this job on my own. I work with a team responsible for looking after the kennels, as well handling the dogs. Even though I am the general supervisor, each member of the team contributes to ensure that everything is working, as it should be.

 

LWF: How has the recent training helped your team?

JT: The training we went through was extremely helpful. It brought out key issues that we needed to address and strengthen For example, I know I needed to strengthen my skills in handling dogs when on a search mission. Now I am confident in this area, and as a direct result, so are the rest of the team including the dogs. We have also learnt to sharpen our reporting skills, which are not only important for our own records, but for accountability as we work with so many other stakeholders.

 

LWF: So, you do work with other people outside Ol Pejeta Conservancy?

JT: Oh yes! The surrounding community is very important to us and the dogs also support them greatly. We provide a free service when the local community calls us to assist with issues such as petty theft. We work with the police and KWS in all matters. There are times we have been requested to go outside Laikipia to help with cases too! Right now we have over 10 cases in court as a result of our dogs tracking those who have committed crimes.

 

LWF: Guests visiting OPC must love meeting the dogs…

JT: Yes, especially the children. We allow students on conservation education excursions to go tracking and see first hand how the dogs carry out their work. But I always remind them that these animals are trained to carry out certain duties; they are cute but they take their work very seriously.

 

LWF: And when you’re back home, what does your community think about the work you do?

JT: Some people really do not understand the work until I explain it to them and then they are really interested. I tell them that the dogs are a part of our team, not just animals that follow us around. Without them, our work would be very difficult! Protecting our wildlife would be extremely difficult too.

 

LWF: What are some of the challenges you would like people to know?

JT: Some of the associated costs of training and maintaining our dogs are immense and we always have to make sure the funds are available. We work very closely with the police on the certification of our dogs, another cost that is big. But we overcome these challenges through the support of our stakeholders. Conservation is very important not only for Laikipia but for Kenya and we do our very best in making sure that we protect our wildlife. Special thanks to LWF for helping OPC get the resources we needed to help our dog training.

 

 

Drought Relief Update From LWF

In efforts just before the rains, NDMA and LWF again joined together to help with the distribution of 1500 bags of drought pellets for needy community breeding stock.

Six hundred 50 kg bags of feed were distributed through the ranching/conservancy community. Borana and Ol Jogi were again at the forefront of this effort. Ol Pejeta Conservancy continued with its own drought assistance programme to neighbouring communities, and continued to offering grazing access to the Conservancy.

Some 600 bags of feed went the northern community conservancies, and an additional 200 bags of rangeland supplements supported the communities cattle of Ngobit, Lamuria, and Tharua.

One hundred 50 kg bags went to Mowark and Il Pinguan Valley, 25 bags to Larora Le Sanagurii, 25 bags to Maundunimeri and 25 bags to Masenga.

With its limited resources for Laikipia, NDMA has done an outstanding job of collaborating with the Laikipia County Government, ranches and partners like LWF to get the limited drought relief to where it can do the most good. Henry Parkolwa of the Laikipia NDMA office and his team provided this leadership.

These are the slow and steady signs of neighbourhood cooperation for which Laikipia has always been known.

Let’s stay focused on helping our neighbours in good times and bad. You can access a full community report from Borana on LWF’s website which exemplifies a long-term commitment to neighbourhoods, rangelands and livestock management.

Despite the good rains we are receiving, most livestock is still too weak to withstand the sudden drop in temperature and exposure. Many small stock are dying and cattle remain stressed.  

Our collective efforts need to focus on recovery now, as we move back into a period of temporary greenness.

Most weather predictions for this area indicated a less than average rainfall for the remainder of the year.

We are wild about Wild Dogs, says Dedan Ngatia (researcher with the Mpala Research Centre)

Ask most Kenyans if they have seen a Wild Dog roaming free in it’s natural habitat and the answer would most likely be a sound no! An increasing population and destruction of ecosystems has seen a sharp decline of one of Kenya’s most Endangered species.

Listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, populations of the African Wild Dog are currently estimated at approximately 6,600 adults, of which only 1,400 are mature individuals. Wild dogs were historically distributed across most of sub-Saharan Africa, but now inhabit only 7% of their former range as a result of habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and infectious disease.

The Kenya Rangelands Wild Dog and Cheetah Project, previously known as the Samburu-Laikipia Wild Dog Project, was established by ecologist, Professor Rosie Woodroffe, in order to address issues such as human-wildlife conflict and management of infectious diseases.

As many of you know, wild dogs disappeared from the Laikipian landscape in the 1980s, but by early 2000, some dogs had naturally recolonized the area. Rosie set up the Wild Dog Project in order to monitor this growing population and to explore if and how the canines could coexist with people and livestock. Over the next 13 years the wild dog population in Laikipia expanded exponentially with the project recording an almost 8-fold increase in the number of dogs.

The largest populations of wild dog remain in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa. However, Laikipia’s wild dogs are likely to be the largest population entirely resident within Kenya.

In recent times, the Wild Dog Project has had to invest in new GPS tracking technology in order monitor intricate details about the health of this Endangered species. This has resulted in the successful monitoring of declining conflict between local communities and wild dogs. The technology has also allowed communities to know the whereabouts of the dogs so that livestock and property can be secured before any damage occurs.

Mpala Research Centre (MRC) is also helping to mitigate the loss of wild dogs through diseases control. MRC, together with LWF, and neighbouring conservancies have teamed up and are geared towards eradicating rabies from Laikipia through an annual exercise that will see the vaccination of thousands of domestic dogs, which are notorious for harbouring rabies. The Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign has so far vaccinated approximately 5000 domestic dogs since 2015.

Although the Wild Dog Project has typically concentrated on ensuring that the canines are protected from habitat loss, persecution and domestic dog diseases, there is still lots more work to be done.

The next phase of the project is to continue working on finding out how seriously climate change will impact wild dog populations and which sites hold the best prospects for long-term conservation (including possible sites for re-introduction.  

LWF will continue to work with MRC and County Government to support the next Rabies Vaccination Campaign in September 2017. We shall keep you updated on this very important initiative.

Have you spotted a Wild Dog lately in Laikipia? If so, we would love to see some pictures. Post them on the Laikipia Wildlife Forum FaceBook page here and don’t forget to let us know where the picture was taken. Make sure to include the hashtag #WildAboutWildDogs

Getting Smart About Water

Laikipia Wildlife Forum has partnered with the Smart Water for Agriculture Program of SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) to facilitate the establishment of an Irrigation Acceleration Platform (IAP) in Laikipia County. The efforts are supported by the County Department of Agriculture and the Laikipia County Development Authority.

SNV’s Smart Water for Agriculture Program aims to contribute to better water management for small-holder agriculture and increased income and food security. The target is to increase water productivity by 20% for 20,000 SME farmers in 5 counties in Kenya (Laikipia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Marchakos, and Meru) toward secured water access for production and resilience to climate change. This means assistance to 4000 small and medium scale farmers in Laikipia.

The specific objectives of the program are to:

  • Facilitate and form Irrigation Acceleration Platforms
  • Improve the use and access to smart water products and services
  • Support improved access to finance
  • Increase the knowledge of and demand for SWS
  • Create business linkages and companies (Dutch/Kenyan) investing into improved smart water services and products.

The recent drought in Kenya has brought home an important point – that we need to become “smart” in managing our water resources – especially for a County such as Laikipia where almost all the rivers have run dry this past year. During our dry seasons, Laikipia County experiences unmanaged extraction of water for irrigation and livestock. This leads to severe water shortages, which in turn often leads to conflicts.

This situation in the County calls for immediate action in managing water for agriculture. However, while discussing irrigation and irrigated agriculture, people generally tend to think of government built and managed irrigation schemes. But in Kenya as in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, thousands, if not millions of farmers have taken their own initiatives. They are investing in irrigation as a matter of survival, especially in the face of Climate Change.

Support and technologies provided by the government, NGO and private sector is not always effective in reaching these farmers, as they do not match the complex realities faced by the farmers. To make this work effectively and to improve on-farm water productivity for farmers, interactive innovation development approaches are needed; where farmers and irrigation technology users play an important role in field-testing, redesign and final selection of new water ‘use and management’ technologies and practice.

During the launch of the Smart Water Project. County Government of Laikipia pledged their support of the initiative.

What Role Does LWF play?

Laikipia Wildlife Forum has been selected as the host organisation for the formation and facilitation of the Irrigation Acceleration Platform in Laikipia. As facilitator, LWF will provide a forum for discussion and collective action by the members of the IAP. In addition to our effort to help people succeed with this new Project, we also want to ensure that the Project does not adversely affect our river flows and promotes better water conservation and use. LWF will also work with the IAP to ensure that irrigated agricultural up-take and expansion is not another reason for increased human-wildlife conflicts and habitat destruction.

Laikipia’s IAP will strengthen collaboration and linkages among the farmers and farmer organisations, government agencies, smart water solution providers, financial institutions, market actors, research institutions and other players involved in irrigated agriculture in the County.
Watch this site for regular updates on the location and results of this Project as it moves from concept to reality.

Kenya is Water Wealthy! (so why the shortage?)

Kenya is Water Wealthy!  The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) is continuing to lead efforts that will prove to the world that if stakeholders come together for the common use and management of water resources we will have enough water for all of us.

“Mt. Kenya is a crucial water tower that supplies water to the over 9 million residents surrounding Mt Kenya and a large part of Northern Kenya. Nothing significant can happen unless people start talking to each other in order to come up with sustainable solutions for water resource sharing, use and management,” said Stanley Kirimi, MKEWP’s Coordinator.

Already MKEWP has begun engagement with County Governments of Laikipia, Nyeri and Meru to manage the on-going water crisis that has resulted in some conflicts between communities in northern Kenya.

Mount Kenya Growers Group and the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group, also form the long list of partners tasked with providing a mechanism to end water resources conflicts in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment – an area of approximately 15,000 square kilometers.

An astounding 90% of water use in this area relies on rivers. Small-scale farmers in the upper region use 80% of the total available resource. A big number of this population also uses the water illegally, leaving the 20% with no water at all.

LWF continues to build on its many years of working with Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) for better water resource management. It also continues to serve as the Secretariat to the MKEWP, working closely with the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) because we know that current water and resources conflict can be solved through collective actions that balance the social, economic and environmental demands on water resources equitably.

There are some WRUAs that are providing exemplary leadership while others struggle due to an array of reasons. Here are some of their stories:

Kihoto Water Project – Margaret WambuiChairlady

Kihoto Water Project - Margaret Wambui - Chairlady

Margaret Wambui – Chairlady (left)

“I want everyone to know that we all have a right to water, but we all must work hard in managing our water resources so that our children can enjoy this same right. I am specifically encouraging women to participate more by joining their local WRUA and also participate in taking a leadership role in water matters.

When I first joined Kihoto water project it was because we were facing serious water shortages. To add to that, we had nowhere of storing the little water we could find. When my neighbours saw the benefits they too helped in investing in the purchase of a tank and now we have two that serves about 370 community members.

As Chairlady for the water project the greatest challenge I face is to ensure that water is fairly shared and used by all community members that this WRUA serves. There is no reservoir and the taps need replacing, as they get rusty and dirty faster than we can buy new ones; and I know that is bad for our health!

LWF has really helped with the formation of WRUA Clusters too. The Financial help that we have received has allowed the committee of our water project to hold general meetings in order to sensitise people and we are finding that most people are eager to learn and execute change. We encourage our members also to stop viewing the forest as government property, and rather look at it as a resource that we are responsible for. People should be educated on the importance of trees and the effect it has on water.

The County Government should also get more involved and help us build infrastructure such as dams for water storage. We were promised a dam almost 8 years ago and that construction has still not happened”.

 

Nanyuki WRUA – Amos Ekale- Committee Member

Amos Ekale - Nanyuki WRUA Committee Member

Amos Ekale – Nanyuki WRUA Committee Member

“I have been farming for a very long time now. This is how I feed my family and meet our every day expenses including school fees for my children. Towards the end of last year and for the most part of this year we have faced many challenges but mostly as a result of the drought.

As an active Committee Member of Nanyuki WRUA, I am responsible for the management of the water-rationing project in the community, but I also scout the area as some community members have the tendency to abstract water illegally, leaving those living downstream with very little water.

We have benefitted greatly from LWF’s Water Programme and now things are looking up with the formation of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership. Our scouting initiatives have been boosted, and as a result, our river is flowing and deforestation has greatly reduced! But sometimes, and especially during this drought, we are finding that we have to be more stringent with community members on how they utilise our water resources.  During dry spells the water appears as if it isn’t enough but it is! We have found that some community members block water intakes and this affects other members of the community. We always engage them as much as possible, teaching them about effective storage, farming and animal husbandry.

We have many dams in this area but they are all damaged and need to be repaired. New dams need to be built too. This will help more members to join the WRUA so that we can collectively engage in finding solutions to the challenges we face in the management of our water resource. At the moment some members feel that they are too far from the water source and find no need to join the WRUA. We then end up having to deal with issues such as abstraction as a result.

Another challenge we face, and which MKEWP is helping us with, are issues regarding the administration of our WRUA – we need change! Leadership is so important and so when we continue to have a chairman that has held the seat for 17 years things don’t move. I fear that our river may dry up in 10 years or less if we do not start to look at all aspects to do with the management of the resource as well as the WRUA.

I also want to urge, not only our members but all Laikipians, to stay involved and join forums that will help with conservation. During this drought people’s voices came out strongly and that is the way it should always be – engagement is the key to our success”!

 

Ngusishi WRUA – Samuel Maina- Project Manager-

“When we started the Ngusishi WRUA in 1999 we did so because we were experiencing a lot of conflict between upstream and downstream farmers. There were almost 102 illegal abstractors! We made a decision to put a system together that will stop the conflict and give equitable access to water for all members in the WRUA.

With the help of LWF, we now have different common water intakes that are serving 16 water projects including 9 commercial farms.

Our system works very well because we can see how many people are benefitting. We currently have 10 permanent employees with 2 project managers and an annual budget of Kes 2.4 million, which is enough to carry out important activities in order to manage our river. 70% of all water flows are channelled to the community and we allow the remainder to flow freely in order to support the downstream environment.
We have enough water to support everyone here because we work as a team and deal with our challenges as a team, which is very important. Farmers are successful in their businesses and we all get along – big and small.  Many times LWF has brought other WRUAs to learn from us and we continue to talk to them even on our own without the Forum being present and I think that is important, not only for us at Ngusishi but also for Laikipia”.

 

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