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Prescribed Burns – What They Might Mean for Laikipia

For years, the Mpala Research Center has hosted a long-term study on rangelands ecology, and the interface between soils, grasses and their consumption by both wildlife and livestock. The KLEE Project (Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment) is located on Mpala Ranch.


The work occurs mostly on “black cotton soil” dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium (Whistling Thorn) and a grassy understory community of more than 100 plant species. The experiment tests different land uses (wildlife conservancy, wildlife-tolerant ranching, wildlife-intolerant ranching) to see what the effects of these different land uses mean for the environment and how these are changing over time, land use, and in the face of climate change.

Want to learn more? Check out KLEE and Dr. Truman Young at https://tpyoung.ucdavis.edu/klee

One of the treatments in this experiment has been the use of fire. As this year will yield an abundance of grass growth, we will be confronted by the possibility of fire – both as a threat, and a tool for management of our rangelands.

Here is a link to an on-line course that consolidates a lot of the experience and literature on prescribed burns. You can learn at your own pace, but unfortunately, the course cost is USD $200.



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Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership Enhancing Coordination Among Water Resource Management Stakeholders in the Region

Since its inception in late 2016, the Mt. Kenya-Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) has continued to bring together water actors to solve water and water resource management problems in the Upper Ewaso Nyiro North Catchment Area.

The actors range from: flower farmers, horticultural growers, WRUAs, County governments, national government agencies, researchers, civil society groups and other water actors. The platform has consistently ensured that these members collectively identify, discuss and take action on common water problems in this area.

The overall goal of this partnership is to ensure that water resources in UENNCA are managed for sustainable, equitable, social and economic development in harmony with natural water systems and environmental cycles.

In 2019, the Platform focused on donor assisted projects including the WRUA/WRA Water Services Agreement, and the Ewaso Maji Users SACCO.

Both of these projects are funded by World Bank under the Water Resources Group 2030 and Cordaid. The two projects were key points of discussion during the annual general meeting. Both continue into 2020.

2019 Annual General Meeting

On the 29th of November MKEWP held its 2nd annual general meeting at the Nanyuki Sports Club. The meeting was well represented with stakeholders from the World Bank, SNV, Water Resources Authority, Community Forest Associations, Vatan Plastics, flower farms in the Mount Kenya Growers Group, community water projects and Water Resource Users Associations.

Mr. John Kinoti, of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, was confirmed as the new MKEWP chairman for the period running 2020-2022, and Esther Nyambura Mbugua of Nyeri County Government, as the vice chair.

Taking center stage on the discussions was the WRUA Agency Model. The model describes an arrangement between the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and a WRUA, in which the WRA pays the WRUA for specific services rendered. This role is envisaged in the Water Act 2016. A services agreement between the WRA and the WRUA is essential to WRUA operations and survival. It’s essential to effective sub-catchment management and water security.

MKEWP also shared with its members on the progress of the Ewaso Maji Users SACCO. This was highlighted as focus area in ensuring water security at household levels. This is to be realized by helping small-holders farmers increase their water storage and water use efficiency. MKEWP has as a result supported the formation of a water savings and credit facility within the basin to help small-holder farmers save and borrow for on-farm water storage and conservation investments. This is done through a newly established water savings and credit cooperative society (SACCO) dubbed EMU-SACCO, (Ewaso Maji User Savings and Credit Cooperative). EMU SACCO allows farmers to access finance for water conservation investments including dam liners, drip irrigation kits and solar pumps at farm level.

MKEWP through its coordinator, Mr. Stanley Kirimi shared on how the platform has in the recent past supported the multitude of partners addressing water resource management issues within the basin.

The members’ contributions leveraged additional funding of Kes. 17,828,714 from donor partners: World Bank/Water Resources Group 2030, CORDAID, SNV, Fauna and Flora International, and Wetlands International. This support has enabled us to lobby for the implementation of the WRUA agency model, support establishment of the EMU SACCO, support WRUAs, and support MKEWP operations.

The commitment to have MKEWP as a Public-private partnership remains a main focus for the secretariat. It is the prime mechanism to collaborate with government institutions to fund the much needed water infrastructure investment and work with the private sector to bring the technology and efficiency that can improve the performance and financial sustainability of the water sector within the basin.

The meeting highlighted on two main lessons learnt especially with focus to the two projects

  • EMU SACCO establishment is on course. A consultant will soon be engaged to help the SACCO with a business plan. Membership however, is slower than expected, reflecting a shortage of capital from many farmers to start their SACCO investment. Loan defaults in Laikipia are greater than 70% illustrating the difficulties that farmers have in meeting their financial obligations.


  • The WRUA agency model (now a water services agreement) piloting phase requires the support and engagement of WRA headquarters to ensure success. A taskforce assigned by the World Bank’s 2030 Water Resources Group, has been established to work with MKEWP on to secure WRA approval towards this. This task force is comprised of WRA, WRUA/MKEWP representatives, WSTF, 2030WRG/WBG, and the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation.
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Ewaso Maji Users SACCO Special General Meeting Promoting Community Water Conservation and Management at Household Level

EMU-SACCO, one of the fastest-growing SACCOs in Laikipia, had its first, Special General Meeting on 6th December 2019 in Nanyuki.

Members got a chance to interact with their board members and got an opportunity to ask questions, give suggestions and get feedback about their SACCO.

The SACCO has steadily grown from a membership of 30 members in March to 120 members in December. The SACCO envisions that by June 2020 it will start issuing loans to members through the continually growing members’ contributions.

We offer the following loans for as low as 0.8% per month on a reducing balance:

  • Water loans.
  • Emergency loans
  • Short term agricultural loans.
  • School Fees
  • Group Loans
  • Insurance Loans

The Chairman, Mr. Charles Kinyua, emphasized the need for members’ commitment towards the growth of EMU-SACCO.

The founder members were recognized for their major support in building up EMU-SACCO to where it is now. He urged all the members to take up EMU-SACCO, and to own their organization. Each member made a commitment to recruit 5 members each by the end of January 2020, with the goal of over 300 members in total.

The Laikipia Cooperative Office also commended Ewaso Maji Users SACCO for its commitment to water conservation and community empowerment. They praised the organization and its early steps to provide good governance and services to their members.

Members acknowledged the support that CORDAID has given to EMU-SACCO in its first year under the Partners for Resilience Program. CORDAID encouraged the SACCO to engage more partners to accelerate growth.

EMU-SACCO gave an even greater opportunity for partnership by endorsing Corporate Membership for organizations that would like to support the work its doing. Corporate members would pay a membership fee of KES 10,000.

The SACCO has also incorporated Community Water Projects in its membership to help them enjoy group lending to support major water projects in their communities.

Mr. Kirimi, the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership Coordinators gave a clear message:  “it is time to adapt to climate change and embrace water conservation for agriculture through installation of water harvesting, water storage and water efficient use technologies.” He dubbed the EMU-SACCO as a one-stop shop for water users in the Upper Ewaso Nyiro North Basin.

Become a part of this great cause by registering as a member today! Play your part!


INDIVIDUAL KSH.1000 KSH.2000 KSH.5000 MIN.KSH.500 p.m.







For more information on the registration process contact milkah.nyaruai@yahoo.com or                         call 0700 014 239




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Mukugodo Forest 2019 Update

We have good news to report. Because of the assistance of its major partners – Borana, Lewa, NRT and the Forum, and with financial support of the FAO, the ILMAMUSI CFA is on course to be stronger than ever.

Mukogodo Forest is the last great forest of the greater Laikipia landscape. It’s important for three major reasons: it’s a dry-season grazing reserve for our Lakipia Maasai; it’s an important biodiversity center and carbon sink; and it’s a national forest reserve and water tower.

The Forum is working with the Board of the CFA to draft a new constitution and to overhaul the Board leadership. The new constitution and board will be reviewed, approved and elected by the 4 members of the CFA – Il Ngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo, and Sieku group ranches – hence the acronym ILMAMUSI.

All four group ranches are now registered as conservancies and are in the process of obtaining new community land titles to replace their group ranch status.

NRT will lead activities in 2020 to overhaul the old forest management plan. The new plan will guide zoning and investments in the Forest. In addition, NRT will help build capacity of the two new conservancies – Kurikuri and Makurian.

A new CFA manager will take up the role in January of 2020, and will be based at the Laragai/Borana north gate – next to the police post. The CFA office will be the official port of call for entry into the Forest reserve for visitors, researchers and tourist.

A 2000 KSH fee/day will be required to enter the forest. Supporting partners Lewa, Borana, NRT and the Forum have all contributed to its establishment and improvements.

Stay tuned for update on Friends of Mukogodo, and how you can add your voice and support to this critical part of Laikipia!



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Kenya Tourism Board Strategic Plan Validation

The Kenya Tourism Board is finalizing its national tourism strategy.  The Strategic Plan (here) is designed to take us from 2018- 2023. Check out the tourism statistics for this same period on slide 39.

A Validation Meeting to review the draft plan was conducted in Nairobi in December at the Fairmont/Norfolk Hotel. LTA members attended.

Overview: the Plan calls for a “reinvestment” in many of our existing tourism core values. It importantly highlights the improvements of a domestic tourism market.

In particular, it calls for greater collaboration with the Kenya private sector as this is noted as one of the strategic issues:

Strategic Issue 12: KTB Misalignment with private tourism and travel industry sector

Strategy issues to be addressed:

  • Deliver an operationally excellent value-added portfolio of services to local industry to convince them that KTB is their preferred marketing partner interested in improving their business performance.
  • Convince different types of stakeholders that KTB understands their specific needs and gives timely answers to them through the most effective channels.
  • Make communication between KTB, the tourism industry and other stakeholders highly effective, supported by the most appropriate channels, with owned platforms as the main pillar.

Strategic Objective: Improve participation, ownership and marketing performance of the Kenya Tourism Industry and other stakeholders.

Sadly, the plan does not yet take into account the values of an industry that needs to do better in its support of sustainability and green tourism.  There is no emphasis on the major elements of a strong, sustainable tourism industry. We failed to find a focus on (environment) energy conservation and management, recycling, water, waste, etc. (economic) employment, skills development, training, service delivery, destination marketing, etc.; and (culture) investments in the promotion and understanding of our communities, cultural diversity, history, social structures, legends, and beliefs.

Sustainable tourism is defined as hitting all four cornerstones of this industry – Commerce, Culture, Conservation and Community. Learn more about leading models of sustainable tourism here: https://www.thelongrun.org/.

Laikipia is increasingly characterized by this model of tourism – making us a truly unique destination in Kenya.



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Save the Rhino International and the Association of Private and Community Land Rhino Sanctuaries host Important Rhino Conservation Meeting for Kenya and the Greater Laikipia area

Wondering about the future of rhino conservation in Kenya and the planned goal of 2000 black rhinos in Kenya by 2030? How realistic is this goal, and what needs to be done to achieve it?  {Kenya Black Rhino Action Plan }

These were some of the questions raised by more than 30 professionals at the meeting held at the Mpala Research Center in November. Rhino biology, habitat, population dynamics, translocation techniques, security, and KWS policy and guidelines were all examined in some detail. Additional information about rhino population growth, translocation, and custody was shared by visitors from Southern Africa.

As of the end of 2018 – here are some key statistics regarding black rhino conservation in the Country:

Rhino lands total Area (Km2)
State lands (#9 populations) 375 16,963
Private lands (#4 populations) 331 894.4
County lands (#1 population) 45 1,510
Community lands (#1 population) 15 107
TOTAL (# 15 populations) 766 19,474.4


This total population of Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) forms part of a national rhino population including southern white rhinos and two remaining northern white rhinos. The total at the end of 2018 was 1390 individuals.

The Greater Laikipia Landscape features prominently in possible plans to increase the area under rhino conservation – but key issues of communities, counties, cultures and costs prevail. About half of the present population of black rhinos can be found in our landscape.

Existing black rhino conservation areas


Stay tuned for the final report resulting from this meeting.







The Forum to Launch the Mazingira Conservation Fund in 2020

A major ingredient needed for conservation in this landscape has always been local access to grant money. The Mazingira Conservation Fund originated with fundraising efforts to support endangered species conservation in the greater Laikipia area, particularly for rhinos. The Rhino Revival Fundraising was so successful, we have expanded that Fund for greater conservation impacts.

The Laikipia Mazingira Conservation Fund is designed to support wildlife conservation efforts and innovations in our landscape. More than research, it supports practical interventions aimed at securing habitat and safe passage for our many wildlife species, but with a particular focus on our vulnerable and endangered species. The fund supports individuals, communities, schools, and organized groups with access to grants aimed at these conservation goals.

Small grant guidelines will be released on 2020, and the first round of small grants can be expected next year.


{Mazingira Conservation Fund Flyer}

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Laikipia Tourism Association General Assembly Meeting; A moment of self-reflection

More than 35 members of the Laikipia Tourism Association joined in a meeting to review their status, membership and relationship with the County Government of Laikipia.

The Laikipia Tourism Association is an assembly of tourism service providers in the landscape with a commitment to “bringing together all tourism operators and destinations for increased collaboration and to influence the directions and contributions of this sector in the County and to the Greater Laikipia Landscape’s development and management.” The Association promotes sustainable tourism, and the Greater Laikipia Landscape as a preferred destination for visitors.

Three issues dominated the discussions:

  1. Laikipia County taxes and levies that were adversely affecting the tourism sector.
  2. Calls for a revived and increased membership and elections of a new executive committee early in 2020.
  3. Identification of an Advisory Council that will help promote and guide the Association, and strengthen its advocacy at County and National levels.

Several new members were added to the Association’s ranks, including Penguin House, Serena/Sweetwaters, and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.

The county tourism bill of 2015 continues to languish despite the pledge of County Government to ensure its passage. The bill would formalize the relationship between County Government and the tourism sector through the formation of a Laikipia County Tourism Board. The Board would help to organize the important coordination needed for tourism data collection and statistics, training and skills development, inter-agency cooperation, economic participation, registration, circuits, tourism information, etc. See the draft bill here.

Unfortunately, the Laikipia Governor and CEC for Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives had confirmed their participation, but both failed to attend the event. Thus there is no further update on the status of the tourism bill, coordination with “Destination Laikipia”, or the MOU that the CEC for Tourism has been promoting with the LTA.

Stay tuned for more information early in the New Year!


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Laikipia County Shines Yet Again at the 14th Edition of the Eco Warrior Awards

The manager, Ekorian’s Mugie, John King’ori (left) receives Mugie’s award for Tourism and Green Jobs,  from the CS Tourism and Wildlife, Hon Najib Balala (right) and the principal, Kenya Utalii College, Hashim Mohamed (centre).     The award was sponsored by Kenya Utalii College

Over the last four years, Laikipia County has continued to demonstrate its exemplary contribution to ecotourism, not only in the County, but in the country at large. Our success is attested to by the numerous awards nominated and won by the conservancies and tourism operators/destinations from Laikipia County at the prestigious Eco Warrior Awards, led by Ecotourism Kenya.

History of Eco warrior award winners from Laikipia


Tourism and Green Jobs Eco Warrior: Mugie Conservancy

Social Impact Eco Warrior: Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge – 2nd Runner-

Laikipia LTA partner – UniGlobe Let’s Go Travel for Green Tourism Champion Tour Operator

Rhino Porini Camp – Gamewatchers

Ngarae Ndare Forest Trust – for Social Impact


Laikipia LTA partner – Uni Globe Let’s Go Travel for Tour Operator


Two awards to Ol Pejeta Conservancy for their performance on (SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth, SDG 15: Life on Land

El Karama for their performance on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Laikipia LTA Partner – Uni Globe Let’s Go Travel – for SDG 4 – Quality Education


The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille Conservancy – for community conservancy

Ol Pejeta Conservancy – for overall Conservancy (private)

Borana Conservancy – runner up

Ol Jogi Conservancy – runner up

Gamewatchers Porini – winner for their tented camps

These awards recognize efforts, innovations and exceptional achievements among our community for promoting responsible tourism and enhancing tourism sustainability. These businesses and organization are directly concerned with the natural environment and are all linked to local communities through mutually beneficial partnerships. Nature conservation and community development through responsible tourism are the essence of ecotourism.

The Laikipia Tourism Association continues to serve as the umbrella body promoting our eco warrior award winners, and the principles and practices behind sustainable tourism.



Double Win for Community and Wildlife as Loontana Spring Protection nears Completion


Ms. Julia Moiyare approaches the newly constructed water tank to fetch water alongside her counterparts

Ms.  Julia Moiyare, a member of Nadung’oro community barely hid her joy as she fetched water for the first time from the just constructed water tank at Nadung’oro plains, Sieku location. Julia was among the many participants in the handover ceremony of the new water project to Lekurruki Conservancy management.

The tank has been constructed with the support of the Disney Conservation Fund under the Rangeland Rehabilitation and Spring Protection to Reduce Human Wildlife Conflict in Mukogodo Forest Project. The project is sponsored by WCS/Disney and is being implemented by ILMAMUSI CFA with technical assistance from Laikipia Wildlife Forum.

The community water tank is the final phase of the Disney Project’s spring protection. The much-improved spring provides water to livestock and wildlife, and the community members are now served from a storage tank about 1km from the spring site.

Initially water was obtained from one source which meant people, livestock and wildlife shared one point to access water. Through Disney project, a wildlife/cattle trough has since been constructed and a separate tank for community to fetch water. Ms. Julia further added, “We have encountered elephants drinking at the spring site and we had to go back home, or wait for a long time for them to leave the spring site, so that we could fetch water. Most of the time the water would be muddy and we would spend most of our time waiting for the spring to fill up. The separation of our water access points makes all the difference to our lives. Having this water tank this close to our homesteads is indeed more than a blessing and we cannot thank our partners enough for hearing our plea.”

The Disney Project focuses on implementing measures that reduce occurrence and frequency of Human-Wildlife Conflicts (HWC), particularly with elephants. It gives priority to three key themes:

  1. HWC mitigation and reduction through solar powered fencing and maintenance of effective community monitoring systems for elephant movements in Arjiju Village
  2. Spring protection in Sieku location. The spring will serve Lekurruki and Ilngwesi group ranches as well as elephants and other wildlife.
  3. Rangelands rehabilitation in Makurian/Oreteti group ranch, Ilngwesi group ranch and Lekurruki group ranch

Mr James Mwangi, MKEWP Water Engineer, Inspecting Lontana spring before its protection

The current chairman of the Loontana spring water project committee, Mr. Yaasoi Sakui, admitted to how the project has made a significant change to their daily routine especially for women and children. “The women and children will access water in a close location and will have reduced trips to the spring site which reduces human elephant contact.”

Water is an important shared resource between humans, livestock and wildlife in this region which increases the probability of occurrence of HEC due to un-separated access points for water. It was thus vital to protect the Loontana spring not only for the purpose of reducing HWC but also to enhance water security in the area.

The water trough designed for wildlife and livestock to drink from in the foreground, with the water pump storage in the middle, and the protected spring in the background

The selected water committee works closely with the Group Ranch Grazing Committee to ensure sustainability of the Loontana Spring project..  The community has agreed on a water tariff to ensure that the new system is maintained and managed.

The plan is for other springs in Lokusero, Ilngwesi, Makurian and Lekurruki to be protected in a subsequent phase of the project.