Infrastructure Development and the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin

By Sarah Chiles – African Wildlife Foundation

As the government of Kenya seeks to achieve Vision 2030, infrastructure developments are gaining substantial momentum. Several developments, under various stages of planning and development, are due to affect the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin. These include LAPSSET, the Isiolo Mega Dam, the Isiolo Resort City, the KETRACO powerline, and the inter-county tarmac roads.

The developments test the harmonisation of national-level vision and county-level priorities, and also that of inter-county coordination. The Isiolo Mega Dam (see maps), proposed by the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, is a case in point. If realised, it will impact Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu counties, and will require ongoing upstream-downstream management collaboration.

The dam and other developments have significant and cumulative implications for the ecosystem and human resilience in the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin. They present the possibility of substantial land use change. When this happens in a dryland ecosystem, where economic activities largely comprise pastoralism and wildlife-based tourism, it will impact the movements of people, livestock, and wildlife.

As the window of opportunity for influencing infrastructure developments closes, there is an urgent need for communities, conservationists, and those involved in tourism to come together and discuss these developments in a coordinated manner.

This realisation has prompted the formation of the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin Stakeholder Forum, which aims to foster improved partnerships between groups with vested interests. The Forum aims to provide efficient information sharing and coordination of activities in an effort to influence the best possible outcomes for people and ecosystems in the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin.

The forum was formed on the 6th April 2016 at a stakeholder workshop held at the African Wildlife Foundation Headquarters in Nairobi. Over sixty organisations and individuals from the Ewaso Ng’iro Basin were invited to participate. Through its water basin focus, the forum encourages thinking about ecosystems and therefore is an opportunity for stakeholders to act in integrated ways about infrastructure, people and the environment.

The steering committee is currently composed of Northern Rangelands Trust, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, the Samburu Isiolo Tourism Forum, IMPACT, the Conservation Alliance of Kenya, and the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association. The African Wildlife Foundation was requested to serve as the secretariat, and has accepted this role. Based on the outcomes of the meeting on 6th April 2016, the steering committee is currently deliberating on priorities for action. The forum will engage with development proponents, the business communities in these counties, consultants, county governments, and NEMA.

Should you wish to know more about the forum or become a member of the forum, please email Sarah Chiles on schiles@awf.org, or contact LWF at josephat.musyima@laikipia.org

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