Rethink What You Know About Women’s Conservation Groups

Women groups in Laikipia have played a significant role in community development and conservation of our natural resources. Blessed Women’s Group from Matanya is one such group that continues to empower surrounding communities, and commendably churning out smart water farmers. These women have seen how water can be a cause of conflict and strife and are on a mission to ensure that their farming practices do not hinder water conservation efforts. They are part of the Laikipia Irrigation Acceleration Platform (IAP) of which the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership is the secretariat.

The IAP in Laikipia County is making great strides in water management for the small-holder agriculture sector. The Platform was established in May this year by the Smart Water for Agriculture Program of SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation). This Project aims to increase income and food security for households around the county. The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) is supported by an LWF secretariat.

Halima Mohammed, Secretary of Blessed Women’s Group, together with 20 other members were recently supported by MKEWP to attend a Kisima field day. We caught up with them to find out more about their activities, and how similar platforms have played a key role in actualising their water conservation efforts.

LWF: Tell us about Blessed Women’s Group:
Halima Mohammed (HM) on behalf of Blessed women’s Group: (laughing)…..There is a lot to say about us! We are currently 30 members all living in Matanya. I joined the group over 5 years ago so these women are like my sisters. We all make a living off the farming that we engage in so that we can support our families and take our children to school. We realised that we needed to become more organised so that we can participate in discussions around water conservation. We knew we can make a difference in the way we use water, after all, we are 30 members in the group but truthfully we are almost 150 if you count all our family members……those are many water ambassadors!
LWF: Are all 30 members of the group women?
HM: Yes, initially that was how we were structured. But one of our members passed away… that was a very sad day for all of us. She left behind a family. Her husband insisted on continuing his wife’s work. He felt strongly about being a part of us and wanted his children to continue learning about water conservation, so now he is officially part of our group!
LWF: And what do you farm?
HM: We all plant vegetables like sukuma, spinach, maize, potatoes and tomatoes depending on the season. Some of us have a dairy cow or two that provide milk for the family. The excess is sold. But it is not always easy trying to get our produce to market and that is why we were so excited to join Laikipia’s IAP because they give us a lot of information on market linkages for our produce.
LWF: If we were attending a Kisima field day 10 years from now, what would your participation look like?
HM: We will have a stand of our own and a demonstration field…if they would allow us. We would use our participation to talk about Smart Water Irrigation and the importance of water storage. Take today for example, it is raining very heavily! Most members of the women’s group have installed various structures to harvest rain water but many members of our community do not invest in these structures, and in the end face many problems during dry spells. And of course we would have one of these tractors….(laughs)…that would be wonderful!
But today has been a great day and we have learnt so much and talked to other farmers that are facing similar challenges. Exchange of ideas is always fruitful.
LWF: What advice would give young women who want to succeed in farming and community engagement?
HM: Get organised! You can do so much when you work as an organised group; we have seen this first hand. Also, young women should not fear asking questions and getting involved in issues such as conservation. For many years our men are the ones that spearheaded such activities, we see that in even the way our WRUAS are structured, but this is changing! We have learnt that without our input, discussions and decisions made are not inclusive. Many of us women are out in the shambas farming and running our households, if we are not contributing to important discussions about conservation and how we live then others will make for us and that is not good for the community.

Important MKEWP Update:

We are honoured to announce that the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership’s Flora and Fauna International proposal to the Darwin initiative has been approved. The UK£ 400,000 project will run for the next four years and is as a result of an integrated community development effort that will focus on the communities surrounding Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The Water Conservation component will be implemented in partnership with the MKEWP.

Launch of the Project’s work plan, and collaborative actions will commence this September.

The Great Northern Kenya Wildlife Count 2017

Kenya will get another boost in its efforts to conserve wildlife when KWS leads a total count of elephants, buffaloes, Grevy’s Zebras and Reticulated Giraffe in the greater northern landscape of Kenya. This year’s count will focus on these four charismatic and endangered species in an effort to establish their total numbers.

From November 19th to 30th, approximately 15 aircraft, with pilots and observers will systematically survey Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit and Meru counties from the air. The collated information will then be compared to past aerial survey counts of wildlife. Comparing the information helps us to evaluate the success of our landscape and species conservation efforts and will provide us with information on where we might concentrate future conservation resources. Trends in land use, livestock, and human settlements are also noted.

This year’s total count is supported broadly by various conservation organisations of this great landscape. They will be presenting to the public and members of the press in an opening ceremony at Sarova Shaba Game Lodge on November 20, 2017. They will be joined by international, national, and County representatives to learn more about the aerial survey, issues and trends in conservation in northern Kenya.

The Great Northern Kenya Wildlife Count includes an area of more than 65,516.96 sq. kilometres and will take 7 full days (at a minimum) to cover by aircraft.

This area is singularly one of Kenya’s great wildlife conservation areas. Wildlife survives here because of the goodwill of its residents, including land use that supports or tolerates wildlife.

USAID is providing funding support through a grant to KWS, and many organisations, companies and individuals are volunteering their time and expertise to make this year’s count a success.

For more information, please contact John Gitonga at john.gitonga@laikipia.org or Dr. Shadrack Ngene at sngene@kws.go.ke

This initiative is proudly supported by:
Mpala Research Centre, LWF, Space for Giants, KWS, USAID, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, NRT, Ewaso Lions, Marwell Trust, Lion Landscapes, San Diego Zoo, Grevy Zebra Trust, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), Save the Elephants, Samburu Trust.

CIDP County Engagement Begins This Month

On August 25th, the Steering Committee Members of the 5-County CIDP Improvement effort mapped out the next four to five months of engagement with the County Governments of Marsabit, Isiolo, Laikipia, Samburu and Baringo.

The effort is led by LWF, with the help of the FAO Community Land Project, the Mpala Research Centre, the Northern Rangelands Trust, the National Arid and Semi-arid Lands Stakeholder Forum/NDMA, and the Agile and Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions (AHADI).

Meet the CIDP Team (from left to right): Margaret Wambua, Stanley Ngatia and Peter Hetz from LWF; Gabriel Nyausi from NRT, John Gitonga from Mpala, Hussein Wario, FAO, and Omar Jibril, National ASAL Stakeholder Coordinator. Absent from the photo is AHADI representative, Lucy Kimani.

This Consortium will focus on improvements to CIDPs for rangelands, livestock, water, land use, and wildlife. We are providing key information accumulated from partners, research, and communities to ensure it informs the next generation of CIDP decision-making and financing.

Full CIDP teams will be dispatched to Counties in September, to help with the planning and budgeting process.

Please find an updated CDIP and County Annual Development Plan calendar explained here.

For further information about this, or if you have suggestions on what should be included in the CIDPs, please contact Stanley Ngatia on stanley.ngatia@laikipia.org.

Remember: Stay Engaged! Get Informed!

Bring Black Back

Charity Ball for Laikipia’s Black Rhino Renaissance

The Laikipia Wildlife Forum, together with Dance Savoir Faire, and Dancesport Kenya are offering a ball and safari weekend that combines a unique dance opportunity with support for rhino conservation in the Laikipia landscape. The ball is set to take place on the 28th of October at Kongoni CampThe Laikipia Wildlife Forum, together with Dance Savoir Faire, and Dancesport Kenya are offering a ball and safari weekend that combines a unique dance opportunity with support for rhino conservation in the Laikipia landscape.  The ball is set to take place on the 28th of October at Kongoni Camp.

This dance journey began earlier this year when 3 Rhino Conservancies – Borana, Ol Pejeta and Ol Jogi received support from the USAID-Kenya/US Department of the Interior in support of endangered species conservation. The grant, administered by LWF, was used to train rhino conservancy rangers, purchase equipment, and train sniffer dogs. According to the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS), Laikipia hosts more than 50% of Kenya’s black rhino population. Kenya’s vision 2030 aims to have a total population of 2000 black rhinos, a huge goal in 13 years. Tsavo and Laikipia are the best hosts of rhinos to meet this goal.

Given present conservation efforts, private rhino conservancies spend between 30 – 40,000 US dollars per/acre per year for rhino conservation. These include both direct and indirect costs associated with rhino conservation.

Most of this money used for rhino conservation on private land comes from a multiple land use approach (tourism, livestock and some agriculture) and donor funding. At present levels, most private conservancies will be hard-pressed to meet the national goal, as well as meet the escalating costs of rhino conservation without some level of government intervention, economies of scale, or both.

The “Bring Black Back” charity ball represents a unique opportunity to dance ballroom with a Strictly Come Dancing professional, while learning of and supporting the Laikipia vision to develop rhino conservation as a landscape management tool.

Major investment by conservancies has proved successful, and Laikipia has been one of the leaders.  Laikipia even hosts the last known Northern White Rhinos with the greatest hope for preventing extinction of this species.
Laikipia has been facing challenges recently, but looks forward to finding peaceful ways forward towards sustainable landscape conservation for the benefit of all citizens, livestock and wildlife. Select Laikipia conservancies have shown that Black Rhino conservation can be a tool for peace and security, for revenue generation and employment, for revenue sharing and livelihoods, and for biodiversity, habitat and landscape conservation. It’s a model that can be replicated.

We have a dream – for the greater Laikipia area, to be a world leader in rhino conservation, hand- in-hand with sustainable management of its resources. Let us collaborate for this goal of mutual benefit and celebrate it with the joy of dance.

Save The Date and Book Your Ticket Now

The Rhino Ball will be held on Saturday 28th October in Nanyuki at Kongoni Camp. It will include dinner and a performance from Andrew Cuerden, a Strictly Come Dancing professional and his partner Christin Neisler, live music by renowned band “The Itch”, and dancing till late.

Additional tickets can be obtained that include a group dance class on the Saturday morning and a discounted pass into Ol Pejeta Conservancy on the Sunday to see rhino conservation in action.

Both group and private dance, and yoga classes are also possible by arrangement. Sweetwaters Serena Camp on Ol Pejeta will host those who wish to purchase a weekend ticket and will arrange transfers to and from the Ball.

There are only 100 Ball Tickets Available! Basic tickets are Ksh 5,000 per person and include a fabulous dinner with complimentary wine, as well as all set festivities for the night.  If coming with friends, reserve a table to avoid disappointment.

For more information about tickets contact: grace.wanjiku@laikipia.org

  1. Select the MPESA service On Your Phone
  2. Select Lipa Na MPESA
  3. Select Pay Bill
  4. Enter Business Number: 898370
  5. When asked for Account Name: Please Type In: Rhino (Your Full Name)
  6. Pay

To find out more about private or group dance lessons on Saturday, October 28, or for discounted access to Ol Pejeta Conservancy to see rhino conservation in action on Sunday, October 29, please contact: Dr. Kes Smith on: akkessmith@gmail.com

For more information about LWF’s support to rhino conservation, please contact:  John Gitonga on: john.gitonga@laikipia.org

The Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign Needs Your Help

In Kenya, the majority of annual rabies-related deaths occur where vaccination programs are limited or non-existent, and where low income communities reside. The Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign (LRVC) begun in 2015 by the Mpala Research Centre in order to provide real-time health benefits for these vulnerable communities, as well as domestic animals and wildlife. Last year’s campaign saw over 4, 000 dogs vaccinated as a result of support from various partners that included Bruce Ludwig, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, the County Government of Laikipia, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy among others.

In Laikipia, we know that there are significant numbers of undocumented rabies cases in domestic animals, wildlife and humans annually. When faced with such statistics we must ask ourselves – can the strategy of making Laikipia Kenya’s first rabies free county really work? The answer is a resounding YES, but only if Laikipians as well as County Government can work together to eradicate this deadly virus.

If we take informed steps, we can significantly minimise exposure to rabies and accomplish Kenya’s 2030 vision of being an entirely rabies free nation. We will however not be able to reach this goal without your help.
The 2017 LRVC plans to widen its scope and reach out to more people.

The campaign will take place over the weekends in October and into November, if necessary. Our goal is to vaccinate over 5,000 dogs and cats during this period. The campaign will target approximately 20 communities bordering Mpala Research Centre as well as Ol Jogi, Segera, Ol Pejeta, Loisaba, Ol Lentille, Karisia/Tumaren, Naibunga, Lewa and Borana Conservancies.

How You Can Help
Your support is crucial to our efforts. The number of students, vets and community members who are always willing to volunteer is always encouraging but we do need more financial support.
The 2017 LRVC, which now includes Distemper, is predicted to cost approximately Ksh 2M (USD $20, 000). With this money we will be able to cover the costs of:

  • Over 5000 Rabies and Distemper vaccines
  • Transport, accommodation and meals for all LRVC staff and volunteers during the campaign
  • Production of rabies civic education material

LWF and Mpala Research Centre will give a full transparent account of how all monies donated will be utilised, as well as a final report after completion of the campaign.

To donate please use the following:

MPESA:

  1. Select the MPESA service On Your Phone
  2. Select Lipa Na MPESA
  3. Select Pay Bill
  4. Enter Business Number: 991503
  5. When asked for Account Name: Please Type In Your Full Name
  6. Donate

For bank transfers, please use:
Bank: Stanbic Bank
Account Number: 0100004071926
Swift Code:
Account Name: Laikipia Wildlife Forum

For more information, please contact John Gitonga on John.Gitonga@laikipia.org
Laikipia Wildlife Forum will be working with the LRVC, led by Mpala Research Centre, and will keep you up to date on this very important initiative.

Rabies is an almost invariably fatal disease for both humans and animals. Vaccination of domestic animals is a critical step that we should all participate in for the protection of domestic animals, our already fragile wildlife population and most importantly, public health.

Together, we can eradicate rabies in Laikipia!