The Future Looks Bright For Laikipia’s Tourism

 

Caption: (LtoR) Kevin Ouma (photographer, PROKRAFT), Timothy Wachira (photographer, PROKRAFT), Marion Mithamo (writer/blogger), Mwangi Kirubi aka Mwarv (photographer, PROKRAFT), Paul Kimiri (Tourism Officer, Laikipia County Government) and John King’ori (Laikipia Tourism Association Secretary) at Rumuruti Forest during the content creation exercise for the LTA and Destination Laikipia 

The Laikipia tourism industry dreams of a more fruitful year in 2018 and the Laikipia Tourism Association is a major player.

2017 was tough on Laikipia’s Tourism sector. Insecurity in the County and uncertainty in Kenya’s national political arena affected tourism – in particular the north of Kenya which is a key cultural, wildlife and nature destination for travellers.

However, tourism providers are optimistic that 2018 will be a game-changer for their businesses. The Amaya Triangle Initiative brings together the four County Governments of Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu and Laikipia in a productive dialog about peace and security, pastoralist economies, tourism, infrastructure and water. Stakeholders in this important employment and revenue-generating industry have joined efforts in a bid to lay down solutions that will enhance long term, sustainable tourism development.

The Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA) has put in place efforts for 2018 that include:

Creation/development of Laikipia tourism content to brand and market Laikipia as a preferred travel destination and as a hub for commerce. The Laikipia Tourism Association joined efforts with Laikipia’s County Department of Tourism, Trade & Cooperatives to support a team of photographers and bloggers to traverse Laikipia in order to develop image, video and story content for Destination Laikipia campaign (Follow the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages to join the conversation). The Destination Laikipia website will be launched in February 2018. This platform will also inform efforts by the Kenya Tourism Board in marketing Laikipia and linked destination.

Lobbying for the passage of the Laikipia Tourism Bill. LTA has been keen on having a legal framework that provides for county budgeting in support of the tourism sector as well as creating an engaging platform between the public and the private sector in tourism. This has been the primary interest from the Private Sector to County Government. The private sector remains optimistic that the County Assembly will give the bill a priority to the bill this year.

Development of County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP). The LTA has developed key fields of interest that the private sector would want addressed by the Laikipia County Government within the next five years. Key points include: A formal mechanism for Private Sector Dialogue, Voluntary Operational Standards that support sustainable tourism, Clarity on Licensing and Permits, Safety and Security, and Tourism Data Collection and Monitoring.

The CIDP awaits public hearings and development of implementation strategy before it is sent for public validation and approval by the County Assembly.

 

If you are a tourism player or interested in the development of the above activities, please contact John Kin’gori, LTA’s Secretary on tourismlaikipia@laikipia.org

MKEWP Updates

Fauna & Flora InternationalOl Pejeta Conservancy(OPC), Mount Kenya – Ewaso Water Partnership – MKEWP and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (Secretariat to MKEWP) in Septemeber 2017 officially met with representatives from local communities set to benefit from the Cattle, Water & Wildlife: Enhancing Socio-Ecological Resilience in Laikipia Project.

We have a Strategic Plan!

We are happy to announce that the MKEWP Strategic Plan for the next five years has been approved and adopted by our Council. This took place during our Annual General Meeting on 8th of December 2017. The Strategic Plan will continue to guide our activities and funding for the next 5 years. Rural Focus was a consultant to this effort. The key objectives of the strategic plan are as follows:

  1. Strengthen Institutional Capacity, Participation and Coordination for Integrated Water Resource Management;
  2. Improve Water Demand Management and Governance;
  3. Improve Water Security and Sustainability. This includes, Dam Site identification and Ground Water mapping;
  4. Enhance Knowledge Management and Communication;
  5. Enhance the MKEWP Capacity for Integrated Water Resource Management.

MKEWP’s Financial Sustainability Plan

By the 5th of February we will also have our Financial Sustainability Plan finalised. With the Council’s blessing, this plan helps us structure our funding and operational activities with a view towards a more sustainable financial future for the Partnership. Using a combination of membership, water use charges, donors, and fundraising events we are aiming to maintain a more sustainable financial future. WRUAs play a key role in the financial sustainability of water management activities in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro Basin.

Enhancing Socio-Ecological Resilience in Laikipia

We continue to work with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC) and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (Secretariat to MKEWP) on the Cattle, Water & Wildlife: Enhancing Socio-Ecological Resilience in Laikipia. This important Project will see approximately 8,000ha of dispersal area (including ADC Mutara) secured for rhino, elephant and predators; grazing and water resources managed for local communities and pastoral livelihoods, and resource conflict reduced across the wider OPC landscape.

This project takes an inclusive approach to strengthening rangeland and water resource management and contributes to reducing natural resource conflict, safeguarding pastoralist cattle-based livelihoods, supporting innovative livelihood diversification by smallholders, and extending dispersal areas for endangered wildlife in Laikipia. The project has these objectives;

  1. Establish a healthy rangeland to support grazing needs of community livestock and wildlife;
  2. Improve water availability for domestic use, livestock and wildlife;
  3. Enable community cattle to market system, support pastoralists’’ lifestyles and reduce stocking densities;
  4. Support community based fodder production system and diversification of small scale famer livelihoods;
  5. Ensure vulnerable and endangered species are under effective protection.

So far, we have been able to meet with representatives from Pesi, Suguroi and Mutara WRUAs. These three river systems form a cluster that focuses on the support of MKEWP. Our first activity has been to develop a baseline for the project’s activities. One of the key findings during the baseline study was that WRUAs still need significant support to ensure they deliver the services appointed to them under the new Community Water Act.

Stronger Partnerships

As our partnerships continue to grow, we will continue to work with the International Finance Corporation and the Water Resources Groups 2030 of the World Bank. Our partners for the next three years also include SNV, Wetlands International/Simavi and Fauna and Flora International/OPC to realise important parts of our strategy.

For these and other updates, ensure that you follow us on Facebook, Twitter: @MKEWP, or contact MKEWP’s Coordinator – Stanley Kirmi: stanley.kirimi@laikipia.org, to find out how you can join or support MKEWP’s powerful platform.

#majiyetujukumuletu

Maji Yetu, Jukumu Letu! Our Water, Our Responsibility

 

Disney Awards Conservation Project to Il Mamusi Community Forest Association to Prevent Human Wildlife Conflict

Caption: ILMAMUSI CFA Board Members join WCS/Disney Coordinator-Kenya, Hilde Van Leeuwe (front row 5th from right), Laikipia Wildlife Forum ED, Peter Hetz (back row 4th from left), LWF M&E Specialist, Margaret Wambua (front row 1st from right, Borana Conservancy Community Liason and Development Officer, Ochen Maiyani (back row 5th from right) Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Community Development Program Manager, John Kinoti (1st from left front row), NRT Regional Director-NRT West, Fred Obiya (back row 6th from left) pose for a group photo during the launch event. Senteo Ole Kimirri, (second from right) is the CFA Manager, supported by the CFA Coordinator, Samuel Letai (back row centre).

The 70,000 acre Mukogodo Forest is the most significant highland, dry forest in Laikipia. It contains over 170 different species of plants, and presently forms part of an application for eastern Laikipia to become an important bird area given its diversity of bird species. Traditionally a dry-season grazing reserve for surrounding communities, the Forest is under increasing pressure from outside pastoralists. Increased pressure and demand for natural resources from these incursions forces wildlife in the area into greater contact with surrounding group ranches, increasing human wildlife conflict. LWF, Borana Conservancy, NRT and LEWA are all joined to ensure that Mukogodo’s residents are helped to secure and protect their resources.

IL MAMUSI is an acronym derived from the four group ranches (Ilngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo, and Sieku) surrounding Mukogodo Forest. Together, they formed this umbrella association to oversee the protection, preservation and management of this national forest reserve as mandated under the Forestry Conservation and Management Act.

IL MAMUSI is a registered Community Forest Association (CFA) responsible for the management of the Forest. The Wildlife Conservation Society, through the Disney Elephant Fund, has awarded ILMAMUSI CFA a one-year grant through the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF). LWF and Il Mamusi have been working together since the formation of the CFA.

The Disney grant is focused on making Kenya’s elephants a model for the rest of the continent by stopping the killing, the trafficking, and demand of ivory and ivory products. This will be achieved through implementation of measures that reduce occurrence and frequency of Human Elephant Conflict and Human Wildlife Conflict in and around Mukogodo forest.

The Project will focus on three key themes: (1) Rangelands Rehabilitation in Makurian/Oreteti, Ilngwesi, and Lekurruki Group Ranches; (2) Human Elephant Conflict (HEC)/Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) Mitigation and Reduction through Solar Powered Fencing around Arjiju Village and maintenance of Effective Community Monitoring Systems for elephant movements in the area; (3) Spring Protection in Sieku Location. The spring will serve Lekurruki and Ilngwesi group members, as well as elephants and other wildlife. Creation of awareness on the measures to reduce conflicts over the shared resources will also be a key focus of the project.

Project Outcomes

  1. Reduced HECs and increased access to learning institutions, hospitals and markets;
  2. Improved rangeland management in Lekurruki, Makurian and Ilngwesi Group Ranches with holistic management and grazing plans implemented effectively;
  3. Improved reproduction of the ranches providing abundant grazing areas for the communities for longer periods;
  4. Efficient monitoring and communication to relevant authorities on elephant movements;
  5. Reduced conflict due to ease of access to water by the communities, livestock and wildlife;
  6. Grazing committee and rangeland coordinators trained and empowered, enabling them to enforce the law effectively within their respective group ranches;
  7. More empowered, supported and incentivised community members that create positive pressure, reducing the frequency of HECs and increase participation in conservation activities.

As this new and exciting project unfolds, we will ensure to keep you posted!

 

Bicycle-Powered Cinema Comes to Laikipia

 

Students from Ol Jogi Primary perform a skit on saving Kenya’s Rhinos

Over the last three weeks a team of young filmmakers, in partnership with LWF, have been traveling through the rhino conservancies of Laikipia with the aim of producing a film about rhino and wildlife conservation. The primary narrative of the film stems from conservancy employees who tell their story about why their jobs are important, rewarding, and meaningful for wildlife conservation.

With the support of Borana, Il Ngwesi, Ol Pejeta and Ol Jogi Conservancies, the team talked to rangers, ranch workers, extension staff and the local youth about conservation and what it means to them. Laikipia is perhaps most famous for its conservation of rhinos more than any other species, and all participants were keen to talk about the benefits this tremendous commitment to rhino conservation means for communities, for the county and for Kenya.

Given the richness of content, LWF and StandupforNature will make two films – (1) community rhino conservation, rangelands management and possible expansion of rhino conservation efforts; and (2) why conservation education can make a difference to our local conservation success.

StandupforNature filmmakers Hannah Pollock and Jamie Unwin have embarked on a major effort to win the hearts and minds for those passionate about wildlife conservation. Their work in Kenya includes the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association, the conservancies of the Magadi basin, and Laikipia. They will return to show the films that have been made at the beginning of March 2018. They will also return to conservancies and their neighbours to showcase their productions featuring the faces, action, wildlife, and voices recorded in January. And for each show, the films will be shown using a bicycle-powered projector and sound system.

Stay tuned for venues and times to catch their bike-powered cinema premiers.

 

 

 

In Memory Of Gilfred Powys

Above: Gilfred Powys

Several months before Gilfred’s death, I requested for a written history of LWF. We had nothing in our digital records to record the early years associated with our 25th Anniversary in November 2017. Given the many demands on his time, Gilfred had missed several email requests, but in the end, I found him by phone as he was packing for another trip to South America. He responded that he would write down what he could remember and send it to me. I waited for a digital file. 48 hours later, I received about 12 pages of handwritten text about LWF’s early years. It was scanned and sent via email. Parts were indecipherable, and other parts appeared stained with airline food or coffee. Still he had delivered. (I was later told that much of LWF’s early history sits in file drawers in his ranch offices).

Gilfred and Kuki Gallmann were legend in their early attempts to realise a Forum that would serve the needs of Laikipia. Predicated on Richard Leakey’s earliest efforts at wildlife conservation, wildlife utilisation and benefit sharing, Gilfred and Kuki were guided in their endeavours by two outstanding KWS advisors – Philip Wandera and Walter Njuguna.
We learned that the first 8 years of the Forum were alternately guided by Gilfred and Brian Heath, as they supervised the culling and processing of zebras with the assistance of Josephat Musyima. Gilfred presided over the governance of the Forum, and led the development of community outreach and dialog on benefit sharing – a process that became known as FORUMNESS. Josephat helped in this effort and Gilfred only left the governance of the Forum in 2007, 15 years after its establishment. And 15 years after its establishment, LWF remained the only Wildlife Forum in the county.

Today, 25 years later, we find that need for FORUMNESS even more strongly. Consumptive wildlife utilisation is no longer practiced, but the demands for equitable and accountable resources sharing has never been more important. Our communities are better educated, our natural resources never in higher demand, and our human population grows at an unprecedented rate, putting even more pressure on Laikipia.

25 years later, LWF reflects on a name change that is broader than wildlife. It’s reforming its Board with greater representation, creating a broader Forum. It will soon appoint an advisory council that will give weight and further credence to the integrated nature of our natural resources conservation and management in this landscape. To Gilfred, we owe this thanks as he helped to guide those early years of the Forum. He provided the flexibility and foundation; and he believed in the integrity of this landscape and its neighbours. He provided a backdrop that allowed the Forum to change with circumstances. Thank you, Mzee Powys, for that commitment to Laikipia.

Peter Hetz
Executive Director, LWF