In a well-timed move, LWF recently organised a meeting that brought together the British Training Unit Kenya, popularly known as BATUK, and representatives from community group ranches, Laikipia County Chamber of Commerce, Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA), Laikipia Association of Conservation Educators (LACE) and rangeland officers from LWF with the aim of demystifying BATUK’s work in Kenya, in Laikipia and current engagement with local communities.
Also high on the agenda was the search of viable projects that BATUK can support, with the help and guidance of LWF. This is the first time a meeting of this nature has been held with BATUK, and is part of the development a strategic plan for BATUK and its stakeholders in the greater Laikipia area.
BATUK plays an important role in the rural economy of Laikipia. These benefits however are largely unknown and not accurately quantified.
BATUK wishes to retain a long-term working model for British military training in Kenya and to improve upon the method by which they deliver support and assistance to the area as part of their operations. A strategic plan that identifies the how, what and why of BATUK assistance to this landscape would go a long way to both educating stakeholder groups and encouraging joint commitments of human, material and financial resources to common goals.
So what are the most frequently asked questions of BATUK? Here’s what emerged from the meeting.
- Security – Can BATUK provide security training?
BATUK cannot provide firearms training or specific military or tactical training.
However they can provide training in certain areas where there are transferable skills. These could potentially include:
- Incident Management
- Map Reading
- 1st Aid
- Employment – Can BATUK give special consideration / allocate a quota of jobs by location or tribe?
BATUK uses an open, fair and accountable selection process. The selection is made based on relevant knowledge, skills and experience. BATUK will not give special consideration for full-time jobs based on location or tribe.
Currently jobs are advertised through the Labour Office. This will shortly expand to electronic dissemination via Facebook and the BATUK Website (once established).
- Communications – What is the best way of communicating with BATUK on local engagement?
Communications should be raised to the BATUK Community Engagement officer (Maj. Mike White) on MSSTBATUK@gmail.com. Alternatively communications can be made via the Laikipia Wildlife Forum.
- Education – Can BATUK sponsor scholarships for students?
There are many students who would benefit from scholarship opportunities to offer them a chance of receiving education funding and BATUK is investigating a scholarship programme for implementation.
- Contracts – How do Laikipian businesses access BATUK contracting opportunities?
BATUK adopts an open and transparent procurement process. Now that the DCA has been ratified, giving BATUK longer term certainty, BATUK is trying to increase its local sourcing. The key issues for BATUK are ensuring local businesses can provide:
- Quality of service
- Value for Money
BATUK is advertising its requirements as widely as possible and is already engaged with the Nanyuki Economic Forum on this issue with plans of meeting the Laikipia Chamber of Commerce to discuss inclusion further.
- Water – Can BATUK help water storage initiatives?
BATUK takes water conservation projects very seriously. They recently successfully installed a water harvesting system for Kinamba dispensary. During the meeting, the Mount Kenya/Ewaso Water Partnership identified areas where BATUK could assist the water storage in Laikipia – through Dams, Water Pans and the WASH Sanitation programme. A follow up meeting between MKEWP and BATUK has been scheduled and we will be keeping you informed of what emerges.
- Veterinarian Services – Can BATUK assist with veterinarian services?
BATUK acknowledges the importance of livestock in Kenya. BATUK does not have any integral vets on staff. However they are trying to incorporate the provision of veterinarian services as part of the Ex SERPENT health outreach programme.
8. Environment – What does BATUK do to protect the environment from its training activities? Here are some of the ways
- BATUK does not cut any new tracks during their activities.
- BATUK only conducts track remediation with the written approval of the County Government
- All BATUK’s vehicles are emissions tested and use drip trays to prevent pollution contamination of the environment.
- BATUK repairs any damage done during training.
- BATUK has a recycling programme to reduce waste.
- BATUK has instigated a water conservation programme across it base and accommodation locations and that includes a hosepipe ban and a car wash ban.
- Community Engagement Projects – Can BATUK help with schools/water/roads?
BATUK can use its spare military capability to conduct Community Engagement activities – and is keen to do so.
Funding has to be requested for each task.
Requests for assistance should be sent to the BATUK Community Engagement (CE) officer (Maj. Mike White) MSSTBATUK@gmail.com. Alternatively communications can be made via Laikipia Wildlife Forum.
BATUK does not have the capacity to undertake every CE request received. Projects will be considered and prioritised to determine which tasks BATUK can undertake and when.
- Training – Does BATUK train on group ranches?
BATUK is scheduled to train on the Ole Naishu and Lolldaiga areas in the near future. There are lots of cattle in these areas that may interfere with the Training Exercise. BATUK requested assistance from the Group Ranch Chairman surrounding Ole Naishu and Lolldaiga and LWF will facilitate meetings with the Chumvi and Makurian communities.
Communities and various stakeholders will have the opportunity to meet with BATUK every 3 months going forward. LWF has been asked to serve as intermediary and will keep you updated.