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”.

 

#WaterWealthy

#MajiYetuJukumuLetu