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Championing PRACTICAL Environmental Conservation

“We cannot purport to know the extent of pollution and environmental degradation while we continue to sit in boardrooms.”

Francis Githui and the Storm Water and Environment Management Forum (SWEMF) are miracle workers. With minimal resources, they have been able to make a mammoth change to the conservation scene in the County.

Francis currently has three conservation initiatives running concurrently. These are the Nanyuki Dumpsite Reclamation and Rehabilitation,  the Edible Rivers Initiative, and more recently, the Fruit Tree School Project.

Nanyuki Dumpsite Reclamation and Rehabilitation

Francis has a mantra, “waste to wealth” , which he swears by. He believes that there is no particular waste that cannot be reused or recycled into something of use or value. The idea to reclaim the dumpsite emanated from the increased amount of waste being dumped there, consequently posing environmental as well as health challenges. He, therefore, made a reconnaissance visit at the dumpsite to check the various types of the waste present, sorted the waste and requested for County permits to commence his recycling work.

He’s made a name for himself by morphing waste into valuable materials.  For instance, glass bottles are crushed into small pieces and are used to make tiles. He also makes high-quality Cabros by mixing plastic bags and plastic bottles at high temperatures.

Francis has also established a tree nursery at the Nanyuki Dumpsite, boasting almost 45,000 avocado seedlings, 5000 loquat seedlings, and 2000 guava seedlings, in addition to others.

Francis is not growing these trees for commercial sale; rather, he believes Laikipians and Kenyans at large can learn a lot from his efforts.

Edible Rivers

Francis and (SWEMF) aim to rehabilitate and conserve various river riparian lands, including those of Likii and Ontulili rivers, among others. Francis does this by planting bamboos to stabilize river banks, as well planting numerous fruit trees along these rivers.

Francis believes these fruit trees will be beneficial to riparian members in countless ways including their nutritional value, soil stabilization, and opportunity to improve livelihoods. Most importantly Francis and SWEMF believe that they can inculcate a conservation culture among the people living adjacent to these rivers.

Once people begin to reap the benefits from this initiative they will become more environmentally conscious and take better care of the environment and possibly increase fruit-tree cover as well.

Fruit Tree School Project

This is an idea that Francis conceived during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had far-reaching effects in the country and the education sector was not spared.

The pandemic led to the closure of schools throughout the country. Francis realized that many schools had water tanks that were capturing a lot of water during this rainy season, but the water wasn’t being used. He started his project in Ngobit Ward, Laikipia County. At the moment, he has planted trees in Mwituria Secondary, Thingithu, Inooro Secondary, Loise Girls, and Nanyuki Garrison among many others.

He has currently planted trees in up to 16 schools. Francis also aims to establish miniature gardens in schools once normal school programs resume as part of a school gardens project.  This will not only teach students about crops and soils;  he also hopes that they will learn the important message of natural resources conservation as well.

Francis says the major impediments he has faced in his conservation efforts are lack of sufficient funding and misplaced priorities by local authorities.

Should you be interested in lending Francis and the Storm Water and Environment Management Forum a hand in any of their ongoing projects,  contact us at the Forum, or give him a call at 0724769750 or swemfcbo@gmail.com.

Francis  and SWEMF are members of the Laikipia Forum and MKEWP.


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Insurance Scheme Proposed for Human Wildlife Conflict Crisis

The recently-released, three-part report on Human Wildlife Conflict and compensation is out. You can read your own personal copy here.

The reports offer the following highlights:

  • Communities want a faster and much more efficient compensation payments that are timely and not delayed.
  • They want a faster response to reported incidences especially human injuries;
  • They want assistance for human injuries to be taken to hospital
  • They want for the immediate families of the dead to be offer consoling.
  • They want more focus on prevention.
  • They want the list of animals causing conflicts/problems to be amended in the WCMA 2013 (something that has been under discussion for 6 years!)
  • They want KWS to learn from the small-scale HWC consolation schemes that are implemented by non-state actors (private conservancies and donors).

The Task Force recommends the establishment of a HWC Insurance Scheme to manage risks and administer liabilities on four categories of HWC (human death and injury, property damage, crop destruction, and livestock predation).

The Task Force also recommends that personal bodily injury and human death from wildlife as per

the schedule is provided based on the Continental Scale of Benefits (insurance policy terminology for human injury or death), including a proposed maximum of KES 3,000,000  ($30,000) for human death.

The proposed management structure of the revised human wildlife compensation scheme recognizes devolution and links case management to county and ward levels. But the funding of such a structure again puts the onus on an over-taxed tourism sector, and conservation levies and payment for ecosystem services – both of which are ill-defined and have not been effective income generating tools in Kenya. Finally the scheme will also depend on donor financing.

There is no talk of premium payments in support of the insurance program (a common practice in all insurance policies), and there are no incentives/benefits accruing to individuals and communities already practicing HWC mitigation and management.

(It’s like so many health insurances – where they pay for treatment but not for prevention/good practices!!)

A new fund, called the Human Wildlife Co-existence Fund, will be managed by a new parastatal board.

The HWC insurance scheme will be piloted for 8 months in the Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Narok, and Meru to test the claims administration process and tools. The results of this pilot will be crucial in adjusting the scheme before country-wide roll out.

Want a printed copy of these reports? Please contact communications@laikipia.org  for yours.





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Loiragai Spring – Life Support System

Collecting primary data at Loiragai Spring for the hydrological report

How much does water figure in Human Elephant Conflict in Laikipia?  Based on the evidence, a lot of conflict with elephants and people occurs around water sources. Whether by accident, or in competition for water, it’s not always easy for elephants to mix with people’s livelihoods.

The Forum, in partnership with Il Ngwesi Conservancy and ILMAMUSI CFA, is implementing a project to reduce the occurrence of Human-Elephant Conflict around Mukogodo Forest through spring protection.

Il Ngwesi Conservancy submitted a proposal to the CFA and LWF for the rehabilitation of Loiragai Spring water pipeline that supplies domestic, livestock, and wildlife water inside Il Ngwesi Conservancy.

The Project takes water from a spring located inside Borana Conservancy to multiple down-stream users over a distance of almost 10 km. The original system was constructed in 1984.

None of the partners, or the regional Water Resources Authority have any record of the design, the original needs assessment, and the permit that should accompany water projects.  Therefore to support the rehabilitation works, LWF with the assistance of MKEWP, ILMAMUSI CFA, and Il Ngwesi Conservancy, have agreed on the following milestones to overhaul the water works.

In true partnership fashion Il Ngwesi Conservancy allocated funds to support the hydrological assessment. The assessment gives a snapshot of  the quality and quantity of the water, and the different types and numbers of users.  The hydrological assessment report forms part of the application for water system renovation and  authorization from the WRA.

Emerging Issues

a) The Loiragai Water Project Committee has limited understanding of the water sector policy and  institutional set up provided for in the new Water Act 2016. MKEWP will help them learn about effective water system management and collaboration with other sector players.

b) There is a need to formulate a local water use policy to ensure sustainability, avoid conflicts with outside users and wildlife, and to allow for controlled growth. Formalizing the structure and operations of the water committee will help ensure better management and provide the legitimacy needed to allow the Committee to fundraise for further development.

c) There is a need to install water meters to monitor the various water consumption at various water points along the system This includes installing a water meter at the livestock water point, at the wildlife water point, and the various water points for domestic use. Monitoring these various points is essential to the project management to inform costs for operations and maintenance, and any possible water fees payments in the future.

d ) Disney will help with the installation of camera traps at key water use sites to record the frequency of use of the different water points by livestock, community members and wildlife. This information will form part of the CFA rangers’ responsibilities and monitoring efforts.

 Stay tuned for updates!

This project is supported by ILMAMUSI and ILNGWESI partners and includes Disney Conservation Fund/WCS, Borana and Lewa Conservancies, and the Laikipia Forum.

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Covid Continues To Take A Bite Out Of Tourism

We are not doing well in the Laikipia landscape when it comes to tourism. The drop-off in revenue supporting lodges, tented camps, hotels, and eateries is close to 90% across the board.

More importantly the drop in revenue has resulted in less monies for conservation, fewer employees, and significant loss of funds for social services and community projects.

Some facilities have closed until the New Year, 2021, when both a vaccine and tourists are expected to appear.

 After President Kenyatta ended he Nairobi lockdown on July 6, our Covid cases went from 2 to 37. People were rushing back to less populated areas, either returning home, or escaping the city. Laikipia is a logical destination for fresh air, open spaces, and some social freedom.

LTA members’ conservancies like El Karama, Mugie, Ol Pejeta, Le Rustique, Lions Court, Sportsmans Arms,  African Ascents, and Rift Valley Adventures, have done a great job preparing themselves and the public for visits.

The process for opening our hospitality services has been challenging. The sector requires Covid tests for employees, health certificates, and a health inspection by County authorities. Only then can a facility be safely and officially open.

Protection of guests is paramount, and so temperature taking, social distancing, masks, and handwashing are mandatory. But protection of staff is equally important, and we sometimes forget that the hospitality industry is as much about client satisfaction as it is about staff health and safety.

In doubt about opening up, operations with Covid rules, or how to access the new stimulus package of County guaranteed loans?

Please contact the LTA at tourismlaikipia@laikipia.org for help and information.  Need a list of approved facilities, see here.

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EMU SACCO Board Learns To Do It Better

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential. When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers. We stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations. Daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human.

One year since the formation of the EMU Sacco, and there was need to take the Board through an exercise on good governance and growth strategies.

The EMU SACCO Board training aimed to build each participant’s overall understanding of their important area of service to members. The training was conducted to build the Board’s skills and knowledge so that they could, in turn, train others.

The training took place in Nanyuki this July. It was led by Richard Murigu and Joseph Gitonga, as trainers, both leaders in the County Coop movement.

The board was challenged to be more critical and to be more innovative. They were guided on how to come up with key growth strategies.


  1. Reach out to the current membership through information and education to ensure they are active and to show that the leadership is listening to member.
  2. Develop a robust monitoring system to monitor the engagement and progress of our members
  3. Develop standard operating procedures
  4. Establish and operationalize functional sub committees in support of key SACCO themes.
  5. Comply with regulations e.g. filling of indemnity forms for the board members.
  6. Reach out to the WRUAs and community/project groups for recruitment of new members
  7. Maximize use of social media and bulk SMS to communicate with the members.
  8. Develop loan products clearly describing each product and the guidelines to get them.
  9. Link-up with county governments and other financial institutions to establish areas of collaboration.
  10. Share the SACCO’s strategic plan with members for their inputs.

We don’t see power as finite and hoard it. We know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. In this regard the Board members were tasked to each train 20 members of the Sacco on how to improve the Sacco to attain its vision and mission.

EMU Sacco is a saving and loan cooperative established with support from almost 200 members. It works in partnership with MKEWP, and is supported by CORDAID and World Bank – WRG 2030.


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Water Challenges and Solutions in the Upper Ewaso Basin

The documentary ‘Water and Resilience’ was developed by the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) with support from various stakeholders from WRUAs, Community Water Projects, WRA, County Governments, Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network among others. Cordaid and Partners for Resilience were the main implementing partners.

The documentary highlights efforts that MKEWP is putting to promote and advocate for protection and restoration of healthy riverine ecosystems  and water security within the Ewaso Basin through two innovative ways:-

  1. WRUA Service Agreement (WSA) – A proposed performance based contract between the WRUAs and the WRA. The agreement provides financial compensation for the functions performed by the WRUA, and thus gives the WRUA the financial resources to carry out their duties. WSA clarifies and structures the relationship between WRA and the WRUAs in terms of regulation and management of water resources. The WRUA becomes the true eyes and ears of the WRA and the action arm of county governments’ riparian responsibilities. It helps the WRA through the regular monitoring of river flows, data collection on legal and illegal abstraction, and it helps the county government in monitoring and managing the degradation of riparian areas and water pollution. This Agreement provides the incentive and means for WRUAs to take up their roles with responsibility and accountability – a WIN-WIN for water, catchments, and citizens in Kenya.
  2. EWASO MAJI USERS SACCO (EMU SACCO) – A community based financier that supports farmers to access finances for household level investments in water harvesting, storage and efficient use. The Sacco encourages water users to be self-reliant and to invest in on-farm and community water conservation infrastructure.

In a period of globally increasing human population, agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, and climate change, water resources in many contexts are becoming scarce, polluted, and contested. Water users, including communities, livestock &wildlife the public sector, and corporate entities, both upstream and downstream, often lack a shared understanding of the threats facing a particular river system and fail to effectively collaborate around integrated water resources management. This is leading to conflict and an escalation of the threats facing river systems.

There are now many initiatives across the world to promote learning, cooperation and unity between water users. MKEWP is a unique example that captures the concerns of many stakeholders regarding the current and future status of the shared water resources in the Ewaso Basin. MKEWP aims through collective efforts to bring about a brighter future in which the water resources are shared, used and conserved in a manner that supports economic and social development while ensuring the integrity of the environment.

Link to the documentary

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Mutara WRUA : The Journey From Water Access Equality to Equity

Members of Mutara WRUA at the Ngusishi Common Intake in October 4, 2019

Water is the most important resource for community members living in Mutara Sub Catchment which lies within Nyandarua County and Laikipia County. The multifaceted uses of water directly impact daily life and human survival of the residents. Within the sub-catchment, different levels and circumstances of water access have the potential to elevate people out of poverty or to condemn them into it.  Precisely, communities living near water sources are engaged in irrigated agriculture farming high-value crops like onions, tomatoes, French and runner beans among others.  The abstraction survey report by WRA in 2017 reveals the extent of increased water abstraction in Mutara Sub Catchment as shown in the figure below:

Cumulative abstractions Source Mutara Abstraction Survey

The significant rise from 1986 to 2017 indicates high-level irrigation in the catchment, signifying a major shift from rainfed agriculture to irrigated agriculture.

The unfortunate consequence of over-abstraction of water for irrigation use in Mutara is the detrimental lack of water for domestic and livestock use by the downstream communities.

Mrs. Nancy Karuri, the WRUA chairperson, on June 17, 2020, observed that water use conflicts have become the order of the day for the communities over competing needs. The Water Resources Regulations prioritizes water for the environment and domestic use over water for irrigation use.  She stated “Our river situation is getting worse every day. We have more and more people coming to lease land for irrigation farming. This has pushed the already high demand for water to the extreme. Our river can no longer sustain the community needs without intervention. We are witnessing conflicts even during the rainy seasons.”

To address this challenge, MKEWP and OPC working together under the financial support from the Laikipia Cattle, Water, and Wildlife project (Funded by Darwin Initiative through Fauna and Flora International) are supporting the WRUA in finding long term solutions to the water resource management challenges within the sub-catchment.

In October 2019, Mutara WRUA visited Ngusishi WRUA in Timau, Meru County to learn about Ngusishi WRUA’s success in managing high water demand for competing needs. The most important take away from this visit was the application of common intake in ensuring equitable water allocation for all and safeguarding the environmental flows.  From this visit, the Mutara WRUA has sensitized its members on the need to develop a common intake that will help prioritize water allocation and support sustainable livelihoods within the community.

To move this forward, MKEWP is coordinating the various stakeholders within the WRUA to support the design, WRA permit approval process, and resource mobilization to construct the intake. On 17th and 19th June 2020, the WRUA conducted two technical meetings with WRA, County Government Representatives from Nyandarua and Laikipia, OPC, and MKEWP to develop the common intake implementation action plan.  The action plan has for 8 milestones as shown in the diagram below:

Common intake milestones to be accomplished by June 2021

This is a robust process for the WRUA and the community members. MKEWP and WRA will provide technical assistance to ensure that the WRUA is successful in achieving all the milestones. The WRUA is counting on Laikipia and Nyandarua County Governments to provide resources and materials needed in the intake construction and pipeline reticulation.

Mutara WRUA common intake technical committee meeting on June 19, 2020

The Community members are ready to contribute to labor where they have committed to do the pipeline trenching and provide labor during the intake construction. Once completed, the project will provide water to a population of 43,480 people living in Nyandarua County (Ndaragwa Ward) and Laikipia County (Salama Ward and Sosian Ward).

If you wish to support this great WRUA initiative, kindly contact:

Mutara WRUA Chairperson

Name                                                             Mobile No.                                    Email Address

Nancy Karuri                                                0725284095                                 mutarawrua@gmail.com


MKEWP Water Resources Specialist

Name                                              Mobile                                            Email Address

James Mwangi                             0727998319                                 james.mwangi@laikipia.org


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Building Back Better

Tourism in the Laikipia landscape continues to suffer – a major victim of Covid-19. Here we share helpful resources:

  1. The results of a survey on the prevailing state of the tourism services in the landscape. These results have been shared with County Government and the Kenya Tourism Board to look at ways both can help guide the rebuilding of the sector.
  2. Two GOK documents providing guidance on reopening the sector:

A number of facilities are working with the County Health Department to reopen. Testing is offered by the County at the ASK Showground in Nanyuki for a cost of Ksh 1000. All samples are sent outside of the County for test results, so it takes some days for you to receive the results.

Due to a shortage of corona virus testing kits in the country, both the tests and results are delayed.

Reopening guidance for hotels and restaurants (and forms) can be found here: http://laikipia.go.ke/application-for-re-opening-of-hotels-restaurants/  Forms A and B guide your re-opening regarding health requirements.

Our biggest opportunity and challenge will remain the opening of the lockdown in Nairobi, and how we position ourselves regarding marketing, destination management, health protocols, quality control, and post visit follow-up.

We expect a serious influx of residents to Laikipia to take advantage of our great diversity of offerings – and we should be a pioneer for managing tourism in the “NEW NORMAL”.

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Laikipia Locust Update

Kenya is experiencing its worst locust invasion for 70 years. The World Bank warns that regional locust swarms could swell current numbers 400-fold by June, causing livestock-related costs and damages of $8.5bn by the end of 2020. Pastoralists in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya will be worst hit.

The northern Rift Valley has been particularly hard hit, with a new generation of locusts emerging in June. “Hopper” bands, the stage of locust development before they fly, have been spotted in Turkana and Marsabit counties, as well as areas below Lake Turkana.

The FAO is predicting that many of the mature bands will migrate from Kenya in July. Wishful thinking? Many suspect the locusts will seek the warmer climates of South Sudan and Southern Ethiopia.

The much bigger issue remains the way in which locust eradication is being handled. We remain concerned at the pesticides being used and their impacts to livestock, wildlife, and people.

We have published stories in the past alerting our members to the threats

To date, there has been no response from GOK, Donors, or FAO for assessments on the environmental impacts of the Locust Management Program. This report highlights the dangers of the different chemical treatments.

Visit this link for our special report


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Partnerships For Sustainable Conservation Mukogodo Forest

The importance of engaging local communities in conservation is intensified during this time of climate change. Resilience and mitigation strategies to address the impacts of unprecedented weather and natural disasters – for both people and wildlife – will require collaborations at the landscape level and beyond (Lichtenfeld, Naro and Snowden, 2019).

Ilmamusi Mukogodo Forest Association was founded on a collaborative footing. The CFA forms the voice of the local Laikipiak Maasai community living adjacent to Mukogodo Forest Reserve. The community’s premiere collaboration is with Kenya Forest Service after entering into a formal Forest Management Agreement for co-management and conservation of Mukogodo forest. Under the agreement, the user groups which form the Community Forest Association are able to draw benefits such as honey production, herbal medicine, ecotourism, pasture and water, firewood collection among others. In return, they commit to protect, conserve, secure and sustainably utilize forest resources.

The current forest conservation paradigm allows for collective effort to conserve indigenous forests. The community at Mukogodo has embraced collaboration for a number of years with its traditional partners in conservation who include: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Borana Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust. These organizations have remarkable strengths, bringing a wealth of experience in wildlife conservation, fundraising, and law enforcement in conservation areas, ecotourism development and institutional capacity building.

A case in point is Lewa Wildlife Conservation which has mobilized funds for CFA operations continuously for 3 years; Laikipia Wildlife Forum has mobilized funds for Human Elephant Conflicts mitigation, invasive species monitoring and institutional capacity building; Northern Rangelands Trust has enhanced the capacity of community rangers on security and wildlife monitoring, institutional capacity building for the individual group ranches; Borana conservancy has supported local community projects and continues to support the ranger taskforce for the CFA.

The CFA endeavors to gradually build its institutional, technical and financial capacity while moving towards sustainability. Direct collaboration with the different partners and the local communities who are the direct beneficiaries of the forest has ensured continued engagement of all stakeholders in management of the forest.

The wider landscape encompasses Borana Conservancy, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust supported conservancies. The collaboration envisions a common purpose and approach for sustainable conservation of the entire landscape, with emphasis on strengthening socio-economic and ecological initiatives of the local community. The area has similar bio-physical, climatic and rangeland conditions; and the contiguous community lands are embracing the concept of community conservancies. The new NRT conservancies of Makurian and Kuri Kuri are directly connected to Mukogodo forest, and join Lekurruki and Il Ngwesi Conservancies.

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