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Engaging Youth on IWRM Integrated Water Resources Management : MKEWP Hosts University of Eldoret Students

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership hosted students from the University of Eldoret, on the 6th of February 2020. During their visit, more than 100 students were given an intro to career issues in natural resources management, with a particular focus on IWRM.

The visit provided students with a chance to explore the effects of human activities on species, communities, and ecosystems. It was aimed to help develop their practical, interdisciplinary approaches to protect and restore our nature. The students were able to appreciate the role that every individual has to play in conservation and they were a particularly impressed by the new approach of EMU SACCO to help conserve and manage water at household levels.

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership prides itself in being a game-changer in matters related to water conservation within the Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment Area Basin. MKEWP is helping serve as a platform for discussion of IWRM issues, and more importantly a vehicle for actions that improve our water resources management. Students found their multi-stakeholder approach and membership to be exemplary!

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Big First Step for Mineral Exploitation in Laikipia County

Chief Administrative Secretary for Industrialization and Trade Lawrence Karanja (left), Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi (center) hold a enhanced copy of Laikipia Mining Report

In a bold and pioneering move, the Government of Laikipia shared the results of a preliminary minerals survey conducted in Laikipia over the last months.

Many of the mineral deposits are known from the basement rock formations of northern Laikipia, (Sosian, Mukogodo East, West, and parts of Segera Wards), an area predominantly owned by Maasai group ranches. 15 minerals were cited in the Conference and preliminary report and are shown below.

The results of this preliminary mineral survey were shared with the public at a Conference on Mining, held in Nanyuki on February 20, 2020.

This conference is a major commitment to the principles of good governance and public engagement, as no exploitation or exploration permits have been granted since this prospecting.

Free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) by Laikipia County is a first in Kenya, coming on the heels of uninformed preliminary mineral extractions in the Kwale Titanium Sands and Turkana Oil Fields.

All subsurface mineral rights in Kenya belong to the State (the public). That’s why FPIC is so important to landowners.

12 of the 13 groups ranches are without community land titles in Laikipia; these must be secured as a priority in order to guard against illegal exploitation of resources under their lands.

Now, it must be determined if these are commercially viable deposits of minerals, and we must reconcile their extraction against other land use priorities – tourism, wildlife, agriculture, rangelands, etc.

The long-outstanding Laikipia County Spatial Plan will help us with this determination, and we urge public engagement and its completion before rushing to mineral exploitation. The County Assembly must also stand ready to receive and vote on legislation that supports FPIC.

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Concerted Effort for Effective Integrated Water Resource Management Approach in Laikipia North : “Worrying about the Downstream”

River systems in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro Basin originate in the water towers of Mount Kenya and Abedares, but climate change, increasing population, and settlement have led to the intensive use of, competition for and conflicts over existing water resources.

The basin experiences very high water demand for irrigation in the dry season, when surface water resources are low. The result is that the environmental water flow required by law is at risk and water use conflicts arise. The situation is the worst in the Laikipia North sub-county, including Mukogodo East, West, and Sosian wards.

Many cases of conflicts have been documented in these regions especially in the dry seasons. Instances of communities attacking each other over diminishing water resources and pasture are a common thing ,not to mention human wildlife conflicts that result from competition for water.

Although a variety of institutions have been established to address many of these challenges in this area, weak institutional linkages, conflicting mandates, and financial constraints have limited the effective implementation of water resource management and conservation in the area.

Prompted by this, MKEWP saw the need meet with stakeholders in the water sector. The meeting was attended by several key-players in the region. The County Government of Laikipia joined along with the Water Department, the Water Resources Authority Regional Manager, Habitat for Humanity, IMPACT, Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP-Kenya), Ilmamusi Community Forest Association, Communities Health Africa Trust (CHAT) and the Laikipia Forum.

MKEWP plays an important coordinating role. It encourages each stakeholder to participate in a more collaborative approach and it supports the coordination of their activities. The stakeholders were encouraged to establish relationships to enhance the efficiency and delivery of water services, increase transparency and accountability regarding water allocation and ensure sustainable use and conservation of the catchment areas.

The stakeholders agreed on the need for the region-specific partnerships towards IWRM water and all consented to have quarterly meetings for harmonized efforts. MKEWP will lead in the coordination of these efforts.

The meeting was held on the 21st of February 2020 at the Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment Area WRA regional office.

 

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MKEWP is a member of the Laikipia Forum and enjoys financial, administrative, and logistical support from the Forum’s HQ in Nanyuki.

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Opuntia Stricta Update : Getting Rid of a Thorny Problem

Ms. Margaret Wambua, Laikipia Forum project leader, shares an update on findings from the Opuntia Stricta mapping exercise that was supported by USAID/SERVIR

The County Government of Laikipia and its partners are doing everything in their capacity to eradicate the prickly pear cactus problem in Laikipia. These were sentiments from the Laikipia Deputy Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Mr.  John Letai.

He was speaking during the Opuntia stakeholders meeting convened by Laikipia Forum on the 24th of February at the Twala Cultural Center.

But the Opuntia stricta – the prickly pear cactus, is not going away any time soon.

Among those in attendance was Professor Shirley Strum, the Director of the Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project, in Kenya. She was keen to inform partners on the need to ensure that the selection methods used to eradicate the plant should and must be based on evidence on the nature and behavior of the plant. She as well highlighted that Opuntia is a symptom of degraded rangelands and, as a result, called for all stakeholders not only to focus on the eradication process, but also to find feasible and sustainable ways of restoring the rangelands.

World Vision noted that they have been supporting mechanical methods to get rid of the plant. This method was also being practiced by other group ranches within the Laikipia East sub-county and conservancies such as Loisaba Conservancy and Lolldaiga Ranch. It was however identified that the only proper way of using this method is to ensure that the whole plant is uprooted, dried up and buried 10ft deep to ensure that its seedlings do not spread.

The biological method, which involves the use of the cochineal insect to kill the plant, was, however, the preferred method to eradicate the invasive species. Unfortunately, biological control takes a long time, and recent heavy rains and cooler weather are not conducive to the insect’s success. They like hot, dry weather to thrive.

Laikipia Forum has been mapping the scope and scale of Opuntia stricta to identify the impacted areas in Makurian, Kurikuri, Ilngwesi and Lekurruki group ranches.

The opuntia distribution and density map will be shared with all partners and the findings uploaded to the County’s information portal on county management issues. Results will be used to support further eradication efforts, rangelands rehabilitation and management and are expected to inform the next Laikipia County budget. Conservancies continue to promote the use of biological control with the help of NRT.

As a call to action, the local communities were urged to take ownership and responsibility to eradicate the invasive species in the group ranches and conservancies, where the opuntia spread is the worst.

These efforts have been made possible through the cooperation of land owners and conservancies, and include the NRT, World Agroforestry Center, Laikipia County Government, RCMRD and USAID/SERVIR.

 

           

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The Great Grevy’s Zebra Rally 2020 Counties, Conservancies, Communities and Citizens Can Make A Difference.

An image of the rare Grevy’s Zebra spotted by the Laikipia Forum team during the 2020 Great Grevy’s Rally.
This Zebra was located in Moibei, Samburu County

Kenya is home to over 90% of the world’s remaining Grevy’s Zebras. The 3rd Great Grevy’s Rally will help us determine the population health of this endangered species.

Laikipia Forum joined other conservation organizations and conservancies from Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Marsabit counties for the 2020 edition of the Great Grevy’s Zebra rally. The rally was held on January 25th and 26th 2020 and brought together citizens from across the globe, conservancy organizations, county governments, academic and private sector institutions for this once in a lifetime experience. This year’s rally was joined by the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) with their families participating!

The rally also included Taita Taveta County and Ethiopia as additional target areas. Grevy’s occur naturally in the Afar areas of Hararghe province in Ethiopia; the Taita population has been introduced.

Some 150 citizen scientist teams were allocated various counting blocks within the counties where the Grevy’s Zebras occur. Each team is equipped with a GPS enabled camera and a special set of instructions – to photograph all the Grevy’s Zebras they come across, with a particular focus on the stripe patterns of the right side. Since each zebra pattern is unique, the pictures obtained from the field will be processed and analysed to determine the exact number, sex, age, distribution, range, and relative fitness of all Grevy’s counted in Kenya.

The Grevy’s zebra – easily distinguished by its thin, elegant stripes, striking frame and gait – once freely roamed much of northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia and western Somalia. In Kenya alone, it is estimated we had as many as 15,000 individuals in the 1970s. Today, only a small fraction of that number remains. Until a few years ago, it had been difficult to know exactly how many Grevy’s zebras exist in Kenya. However, with computer science, artificial intelligence, and GPS cameras, we have the ability to accurately estimate the population, and therefore inform management decisions that will shape the future of this zebra in Kenya, and of course, its ultimate survival on the planet.

The first biennial Great Grevy’s Rally, held across four counties in 2016, and helped conservationists establish that Kenya was home to 2,350 Grevy’s Zebras.

The second rally held in 2018, was expanded to include more areas, and enabled us to monitor the species across its vast range, where 2,812 Grevy’s zebras were photographed and identified.

The results from both events have indicated a stable population for Kenya, and have been a cause for optimism for the conservation of this rare zebra.

As a continuation in engaging citizen scientists in the collection of this invaluable scientific data, the conservation organisations working in the landscape that is home to the Grevy’s zebra came together once again, with invaluable support from their respective county governments, to organise the rally.

Get ready for the 2020 results to be released later this year, after the computers go through more than 50,000-80,000 images!

Big infrastructure projects, planned for the north, will likely impact the success of the Grevy’s status, so please follow their plight with us. Keep informed; stay engaged!

 

 

 

 

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Promoting Partnerships Within the Greater Laikipia Landscape

The new Laikipia Forum’s signboard is mounted along the entrance of the Paramount Chief Road, just behind the Nanyuki ASK showground, along the Likii River. Not only does the sign indicate the Forum’s location, it also illustrates our continued efforts to bring together membership-led organizations in a bid to promote natural resources conservation, cohesion and partnerships in the landscape.

Laikipia Forum presently hosts 6 partners – the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership, Ewaso Maji Users Association, Laikipia Tourism Association, Ilamamusi Forest Association, Laikipia County Natural Resources Network, and Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society.  With a major building project planned for 2020, we can expect to be hosting many more organizations, agencies, and partners active in natural resources management in the Greater Laikipia Landscape.

 

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Lokichar-Lamu Crude Oil Pipeline and LAPPSET ESIA sends out alarm bells!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cBsQaBGBag5QqdLdwa-IB8Wr2st3Uwy2/view

We are faced with one of the most significant national infrastructure projects, on a scale greater than the SGR. The LAPPSET corridor will affect a significant area of the country.

See more on the GOK’s LAPSSET Project here:  http://www.lapsset.go.ke

We are part of a growing number of responsible citizens and organizations that watch large-scale development proceed apace, but are concerned at its social, environmental and economic impacts.

The first steps in knowing what to do and how to react, is by staying informed and remaining engaged.

Please review the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment that was conducted by consultants for the LAPPSET corridor. Nothing about these assessments are easy………but they are meant to inform and mitigate dangers, improve upon what’s good, and stop the obvious.

The full set of ESIA documents can be found here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/112k48-Gk04AHpulyBVAEjX0if79vvNj6

Alas, all public feedback was required by January 24, and most of us never saw these materials before.

MKEWP and the Forum are joining with EIIN and NRT, and others to keep the focus on informed decision-making on LAPPSET and how it affects our people, places and wildlife.

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To All Our Esteemed Members, We Thank You!

First and foremost, we want to thank you for your continued investment in our Partnership. Without your loyalty and support, the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) would not be able to enjoy our collective accomplishments. Simply put, you make what we do possible.

Your membership enabled us to;

  1. Get the next phase of WRUA capacity building and finance endorsed by the WRG 2030/World Bank Board.
  2. Orient 30 WRUAs on the new intent and format for a water services agreement with WRA. Your collective support of this model strengthens the chances for implementation.
  3. Establish 7 business linkages with water technical service providers and farmers for installation of technologies that support water harvesting, storage and irrigation.
  4. Help 394 farmers adopt various technologies of water harvesting, storage, abstraction and application. These include drip kits, dam liners and solar pumps.
  5. Hold a successful Annual General Meeting on the 29th November 2019 with 70 members and 2 donor partners.
  6. Establish EMU SACCO. The SACCO is an innovative credit and savings society dubbed the Ewaso Maji Users Sacco, to help farmers get finances to acquire water infrastructure supplies and materials at discounted prices. Become a member of EMU-SACCO today! EMU SACCO is hosted at the Laikipia Forum ground next to the ASK Showground.

We encourage you to join the Water Partnership for another successful year by renewing your membership. Your early renewal will help us ensure another year’s programming. Each shilling of membership fee helps us leverage another 19 shillings in donor support!

We remain committed to you. Our resolutions this year are:

  1. Work closely with our partners and WRA towards the piloting of Water Services Agreement for 7 pilot WRUAs.
  2. Ensure water security within the catchment and at household levels by working closely with WRUAs and community water projects in conjunction with Emu-Sacco.
  3. Build the capacity of our pilot WRUAs through trainings on governance, accountability, lobbying and advocacy.
  4. Get funding opportunities for WRUAs and CWPs through national and multi-national sources and assist them to secure these funds.
  5. Register the Partnership
  6. Increase Emu-Sacco membership to 500 members, and start rolling out loans to members.
  7. Increase MKEWPS partnership by getting new partners and new partnerships?
  8. Secure new sources of funding and support.

We hope you’ve been able to benefit from your membership with MKEWP. If not, let us fix that right away! Call Susan Gathoni at 0712411107, or email her at susan.gathoni@laikipia.org to see how we may better meet your needs.

Make sure to let us know if you have any suggestions. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Follow us on facebook and twitter on the following handles:

https://www.facebook.com/mkewp/

https://www.twitter.com/mkewp/

http://www.facebook.com/emu-sacco/

Below is a link to our 2019 Annual report. Enjoy your read and please share any ideas or comments on how to improve on the report.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d53d01de8887e62f430469897/files/5aebb7e9-4a18-45f7-850b-1f484fa2afcf/mkewp_annual_report_2019.pdf

 

 

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Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) Adventure Sports and Tented Camp Standards

TRA is at it again…………developing more standards, guidelines and regulations for our Kenya Tourism HOTSPOT Destination 2020. We welcome the initiative, as there are increasing numbers of black-market and fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants operators.

Draft standards have been posted, with public response expected on January 31. Unfortunately, the distribution of the guidelines and standards were only released to KATO members, and so a good portion of the adventure tourism and tented camp businesses in our landscape did not have a chance to participate in the feedback. This is a lost opportunity, as we are renowned for our adventure products and tented presentations.

You can find these draft standards here:

 

The Laikipia Tourism Association did get a chance to respond to the adventure tourism standards. Key adventure tourism providers, at the top of their profession, reside in Laikipia, and none of them were previously counselled. Their response to KATO and the TRA can be found here.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d53d01de8887e62f430469897/files/d2e89ef9-10de-4f6a-ae0f-e32ea8deeee8/Final_TRA_feedback_on_Adventure_tourism.docx

Now is the time for the Ministry and its instruments to use the experience and self-regulation of the professional tourism industry to inform regulations, guidance and standards. There are many international standards from which to draw, and we don’t have to keep creating standards from scratch. Kenya professionals already offer top-notch, safe adventures, and can help the industry with operating standards.

TRA – engage us, and we will deliver!!

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The ‘Edible Rivers’ of Laikipia

On the 28th of January 2020, Storm Water, in collaboration with Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP), Laikipia County government, WRA, NEMA and other stakeholders initiated a project dubbed, “The ‘Edible’ Rivers of Laikipia”. Their aim is to restore the riparian health of rivers within Laikipia through the planting of highly valued trees along the river banks. The trees will act as a buffer zone that will prevent soil erosion and river bank degradation. And owners will benefit from the consumption and sales of these ‘edible’ tree products!

This Project targets four rivers in the Ewaso basin – Likii, Ontulili, Sirimon, and Nanyuki. The trees to be planted include fruit trees (avocados, loquats), bamboo trees and other river-friendly trees. The trees will be planted on a stretch of 2.5 km of these rivers, on both sides of each river.

The launch of this Project was at the Likii Bridge opposite the ASK and the guest of honor was the Deputy Commissioner of Laikipia County Madam Esther Mwamure.  Other guests in the meeting were Stanley Kirimi, MKEWP Coordinator, Peter Ngubi, Regional Manager WRA, and Jackson Maina Mutoro, the new Director NEMA in Laikipia County. The party of tree planters also included chiefs and sub-chiefs of the area.

The project was both lauded for being one of a kind in its quest to conserve the riparian areas, and also for the added benefit of trees that yield edible fruits for people. Likii WRUA was urged to own this project and protect the trees zealously. WRA promised to support the project by providing 100 bamboo seedlings.

The project will scale up to include students from local primary and secondary schools in subsequent tree planting activities as a means to sensitize students on the importance of environmental protection and conservation.

Storm Water and Environment Management Forum is a Community Based Organization, which was initiated by Francis Githui, and was registered in 2018. They have been at the forefront in championing environmental conservation and management. They have a project ongoing at the Nanyuki dumpsite, where they have been rehabilitating the site and turning various waste into useful products.

Tree Nursery

They have also established a tree nursery at the dumpsite where they have been planting different species. These include avocado, loquats, sunflowers, etc. The plants are propagated using milk, juice, and sugar packets – all recycled materials. No plastic is used.  They have also been using discarded tires to make towers for vegetable gardens.