Laikipia County is renowned for its exceptionally high quality beef. This is heavily attributed to the many pastoralist communities and resident ranchers who rear cattle for local and international markets. Livestock farming has been a part of Laikipia’s economic makeup for decades and as a result a large number of Laikipians depend on it directly or indirectly.
LWF’s 24th AGM held on the 10th October focused on Rangelands Management and, Peace and Security; issues greatly affecting the Laikipian landscape as well as Laikipians. During the AGM, LWF’s rangelands team addressed members and emphasised that grass is essential in the promotion of peace and a key factor in reducing conflict between communities.
“Pastoralists and commercial ranchers need to be placed at the heart of restoring the landscape. As LWF’s Rangelands team, it is important to meet the people and develop their capacity to manage their own resources. It is their ownership recognition that leads to sustainable success” said Josephat Musyima – LWF’s Director of Programmes.
The presentation from the team also included Holistic Management (HM), an area that LWF has focussed on for the past 7 years. HM involves: caring for grass, the leaves above and roots below and, practicing good herding by managing livestock to rehabilitate degraded land. “Pastoralists and ranchers in Laikipia have a significant role in landscape restoration and this can be done through proper herding which, in itself, is a sustainable rehabilitation solution. Rehabilitation of land and respect for grass remains a critical focus; this is the only way to deal with conflicts over natural resources,” says Ewan, a key member of the Rangelands team
LWF’s focus on HM begun after receiving support from USAID and from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) with the idea of having communities develop and manage their own natural resources. As a result, many communities have adopted the approach with a recorded increase of women now involved in the practice.
However, like in any other Natural Resource Management, HM has met its challenges brought on by uncontrolled factors such as drought, poor governance, illiteracy levels, poverty and insecurity. The statistics from a baseline study conducted 5 years ago found that there were emerging problems such as increased livestock diseases as a result from interaction with cross county livestock.
The success of HM is greatly dependant on the residents of Laikipia because they provide important solutions for challenges being faced. When suitable grazing methods are practiced, there is minimal animal impact on land, increased grazing for livestock, total grass recovery and provides ample time to plan for grazing during dry and wet seasons.
LWF continues to increase awareness, enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Holistic Management programme through trainings of community HM response teams and chief barazas.