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.