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Know Your WRUAs: TELESWANI WRUA

Teleswani sub-catchment is within the Ewaso Nyiro North catchment area. It covers an area of approximately 35.68 square kilometres with a reach of about 20 kilometres before it joins the Nanyuki River, which then joins the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The river originates from the peaks of Mt. Kenya. With its source in Meru County, it traverses parts of that County before delivering its wealth in Laikipia County.

The water in this sub-catchment is vital to small scale farmers and downstream pastoralists who form the larger part of this water community. Currently the WRUA membership stands at 57 community water projects, which serves approximately 15,000 people. They provide water to parts of Timau town.

Teleswani WRUA has been working with the Ontulili CFA on forest and river bank resource protection. They plant trees planting around the springs and the riparian areas together to prevent catchment degradation.

Water rationing is a tool that helps share available water during dry spells. During these dry spells, water levels in this sub-catchment fall drastically low and this is when rationing starts.

During implementation of their water rationing program, Teleswani WRUA divides their community water projects into two ZONES, which use water in an alternating pattern of 48-hours each. They rely on their staff, and their constitution and by-laws to ensure strict monitoring and enforcement. This rationing program is successful because it has eradicated water conflicts during the dry spell and ensures that 30% of the required environmental flow is maintained. This has really helped mitigate water conflicts, since everyone gets water for their daily activities.

All WRUAs have the mandate to manage their sub-catchment. This is stipulated in the Water Act, 2016. However, the GoK neither invests in the WRUA’s capacity nor gives them the money to carry out these duties. Teleswani WRUA is made up of purely community water projects. The good news is that Teleswani WRUA will be one of the WRUAs to pilot the WRUA AGENCY MODEL, which will guarantee a more sustainable management of the communal water supply in the long term.

The WRUA Agency Financing Model is an arrangement between the WRA and a WRUA, in which the WRA pays the WRUA for specific services rendered. This role is envisaged in the Water Act 2016. The model is yet to be operationalized but it does provide an opportunity to redefine the WRA-WRUA relationship around specific deliverables in a way that also improves WRUA operational financing and WRA operations.  To accelerate the operationalization of this role, WRA headquarters needs to endorse and approve this approach. WRUA capacity also needs improvement to undertake specific services contracted to by the WRA.

 

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Amphibians of Kenya

Please find a free version of the amphibians of Kenya that you can download. HERE

While not everyone is a fan of amphibians, they play a huge role in insect control and are great indicators of ecosystem health. We figure, knowledge is power. Please use this guide to inform your next decision about what’s hopping in front of you, or slithering in your soil.

Keep informed! Stay engaged!

 

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Martin Protect Fence Monitoring Devices: Enhancing the Security of Our Endangered Species

It costs between $10,000 and $15,000 USD per year to protect each rhino in Laikipia. Ol Pejeta Conservancy has over 130 rhinos and is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Imagine their annual budget for rhino protection!

Conservancies that maintain electric fences in order to protect wildlife and to mitigate human wildlife conflict are always looking for ways to be more efficient, and to reduce the costs for operations. Ol Pejeta is no exception.

In partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Liquid Telecom, and ARM, and with funding from The Royal Foundation, Ol Pejeta Conservancy opened a field-based Conservation Tech Lab that enables research, offers testing support and works towards developing new technology-based solutions to conservation challenges in Laikipia, and worldwide.

One of the new technologies on trial is the MARTIN. The MARTIN is a device used for fence monitoring. If the electric fence in a particular section does not have power, the devices send out an immediate notification message. The notification triggers a message to us and we are made aware of the fence outage as soon as it occurs.  The device is manufactured by Ingenious Things, a French Internet Technology company.

OPC has more than 360 square kilometres of electric fencing!

Since the location of the MARTIN is known, we can deploy fence attendants and rangers on the ground within a very short time.

We’re hoping that more MARTINs can be shared across the landscape, and that the electric fences around the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya might soon be candidates for this technology, in addition to other rhino conservancies.

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Laikipia leadership and commitment to ecotourism reflected in the upcoming eco-warriors awards

Laikipia’s abundance of nature-driven tourism activities has for many years created attention to ecological sustainability, human well-being and profitability of the tourism businesses which forms the basic components of the sustainability of tourism businesses.

It is the pride of every Laikipian to see tourism properties within this great landscape crowned and celebrated for leadership in industry sustainability. The Laikipia Tourism Association joins other Laikipians in celebrating tourism players who have made it in this year’s long list of eco-warrior awards by ecotourism Kenya, an event that recognizes and celebrates champions of best practices in the tourism industry.

These Laikipia based tourism properties made it to the long list of nominees in different categories:

Tourism and Green Jobs Eco-Warrior:

Mugie Conservancy: LTA member

Ekorian Mugie Camp:  LTA member

Sweet Waters Serena Camp

Social Impact Eco Warrior:

Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge – LTA member

Mugie Conservancy – LTA member

Green Tourism Eco Warrior: Tour Operators Category

Let’s Go Travel – Uniglobe – LTA member

The full long list of nominees can be accessed via this link below:

https://ecotourismkenya.org/ecowarrioraward/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/08/Announcing-the-2019-Eco-Warrior-Award-Long-List-by-Ecotourism-Kenya1793.pdf

Winners in each category will receive their recognition and awards in a Gala dinner held on the eve of the world tourism day, 26/09/19 in Serena hotel in Nairobi. The short list of winners will be released by EK one week to the D-day.

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Mukogodo Forest – A Key Feature in Our Rangelands

Mukogodo Forest is the last most intact dry land forest in Laikipia. At about 74,000 acres, it rivals the combined size of Borana and Lewa Conservancies (93,000 acres) – some of its closest neighbors. It is an important dry season grazing reserve and lies on an important historical elephants’ migration route between the Northern Rangelands and Laikipia, traversing Borana and Lewa Conservancies, Ngare Ndare Forest, and is part of the elephant corridor leading to Mt. Kenya.  It’s an important conservation site, and an important wildlife dispersal area.  

ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association (CFA) is the custodian of Mukogodo Forest. The CFA is governed by a board of directors with representation from the four group ranches (Ilngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo and Sieku) surrounding Mukogodo forest (see map).  The board also includes 4 group ranch chiefs and thus the Board constitutes a total of 12 members.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) are represented in the ILMAMUSI Board. Four supporting partners are observers on the ILMAMUSI Board – Borana and Lewa Conservancies, NRT and LWF. They have supported ILMAMUSI historically and in particular for the last three years through the help of different donors like the Disney Conservation Fund, EKN, USAID and FAO.

Mukogodo Forest is a national forest reserve and a national water tower. It is also a very important habitat for elephants. The Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016 make a provision for local forest management, including national forest reserves.

The Association is responsible for implementing the Participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) and Forest Management Agreement (FMA). These tools guide activities in the Forest in agreement with the Kenya Forest Service.

More recently, the four group ranches have joined the Northern Rangelands Trust as conservancies. Il Ngwesi and Lerkkuruki/Sieku are more historical members, while Makurian and Kurikuri are more recent additions- <see map> This move to a conservancy status indicates that the primary motive for land use in the area is conservation.

Stay tuned for important updates on Mukogodo Forest – an important cultural, conservation and natural resource site in the greater Laikipia landscape.

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Water Resources Authority commit to end illegal abstraction in Mutara River

Over the last two years, the Laikipia Cattle, water and wildlife project has facilitated a series of engagements with WRUA members and key stakeholders in Mutara and Suguroi Sub-Catchments of the Ewaso Basin and key water stakeholders.

In a recent meeting hosted by the project, the Water Resources Authority; Laikipia County banned the use of Lister machine pumps used to abstract water from Mutara River effective immediately. Additionally, any form of abstraction along the river without an official permit from the Authority shall be treated as an offence and anyone found guilty shall face dire consequences. Farmers have also been encouraged to reduce the amount of acres they dedicate to irrigation farming to at least 1 acre per acre to avoid excessive water use.

The ban which was declared by WRA Regional Director, Mr. Peter Ngubu at the stakeholder’s forum organized by the Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife project in Mutara, is an effort to check the continuous decline of water flows along the river as a result of excessive abstraction by the farmers mainly for   intensive irrigation of high value crops.

A significant increase of acreage under irrigation and over-abstraction from users in the upper and middle zones of Mutara often results to conflicts between users in the upper and lower zones. The stake holder meeting held on 13th August 2019 had an attendance of 95 participants key deliberations agreed on were:

  • Reduction of  acreage under irrigation using river water to a minimum of I acre per household by January 2020
  • Mobilize resources for the construction of one common and self-regulatory intake in the sub catchment to facilitate equitable distribution of water and water use accountability.
  • WRA committed  to work  with local chiefs to curb illegal abstraction of water  effective from 13th August 2019 

Mr. Benard Mwangi,from Ol pejeta Conservancy and an implementer of the program, highlighted on the importance of tackling water issues collectively as a community with the support of stakeholders. He noted that Mutara was experiencing upstream downstream water conflicts due to an individualistic use of the river. “There is need for us all to understand that water does not belong to any of us, it is a natural resource that is a basic human right for all and that should be respected.” He said.

A number of farmers attending the meeting were visibly reluctant on the abstraction ban. “How do you come here, on our land and tell us to stop what has enabled us provide for our families and is our source of income? If that is the only way to solving this problem, then we would rather relocate.” Lamented Mr. John Waigumi who is also a member of Kiagoru community water project.

Ms. Halima Husein a downstream member was however quick to interject bringing out her frustrations on how she as a pastoralist is suffering as a result of lack of water. She especially urged upstream users to have a sense of humanity and allow water to reach those at the downstream of Mutara River.

Also noted as part of the problem was the high rate of land leasing to non-resident farmers by the locals. This farmers do not pay any form of fee for abstraction or to practice farming in the area and are as well not members of Mutara WRUA. It was highlighted that this had contributed to an increase of the amount of acres used for farming triggering excessive use of water for irrigation through illegal abstraction. During the area chiefs deliberation meeting it was noted that the farmers mainly come from Nakuru and Nyandarua. It came out that they usually lease over 5acres of land and usually target small scale farmers with very little capital.The chiefs uninamously agreed that one set of regulation that such farmers must abide by is to register all farmers leasing land to a WRUA. They must as well pay a monthly amount of not less than Ksh. 10,000.

This meeting was made successful as a result of a stream of consultative and stakeholders meetings led by the projects’ implementing team and all the relevant stakeholders. The meeting managed to have all implementing partners in attendance and other key stakeholders; Fauna and Flora International, Ol pejeta Conservancy and Laikipia Forum, the Water Resources Authority, community members from upper, mid and lower regions of Mutara and 7 area chiefs who unanimously agreed to fully implement the ban issued by WRA and at the same time urged all community members to live by the spirit of love and respect for each other to ensure security, cohesion and equal share and distribution  of the available resources.

The project will continue to work with WRA and other stakeholders to improve management of Mutara sub catchment

Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife Project is funded by the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding.

The projects implementing partners are Fauna and Flora International, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Laikipia Forum through Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP)

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National Drought Management Authority Releases the Long Rains Assessment National Report

We suspect that most of you won’t read this report, but for those with interest, the GOK/Kenya Food Security Steering Group has released a report illustrating the continuation of the dire situation in northern Kenya.

Interested readers will want to turn their attention to the section where Laikipia appears in section 2.3 – on page 34. We’re lumped with Kajiado, Narok, Baringo, and West Pokot – in the agro-pastoralist belt. 

There are a host of factors in Laikipia and outside Laikipia that impact us, our land use, and our food security. 

Others will be interested in the statistics, such as the population estimate for Laikipia in 2016 – about 506,000 people, of which as many as 76,000 are considered chronically food insecure during October – December. 

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Kenya Government Overhauls the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees

The Government of Kenya, through the Minister of Tourism and Wildlife, has overhauled the Community Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees (CWCCC) after determining that they are not functional or sustainable. New Community Wildlife Conservation Committees have been appointed by an amendment to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act. 

As of August 1, 2019, a new country-focused committee will be chaired by the County Commissioner with membership from four arms of government – wildlife, agriculture, livestock, & medical, and four “community” members. 

This nine person committee will have responsibility for:

1. Approving compensation that has been confirmed

2. Mobilizing citizens to conserve

3. Contributing to Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation and management. 

But how will an impoverished government realize the functions of these committees? The gazette notice says nothing about how these committees will be funded and mobilized.

We submit that this overhaul of county conservation committees still doesn’t address the key matters affecting wildlife conservation in the country:

1. There is no prioritization of wildlife areas – instead, every county is treated equally, irrespective of their wildlife agenda/challenges. 

2. These appointments fail to take into account the full set of recommendations offered by the Wildlife Compensation Task Force appointed earlier this year. This report has yet to be published.

3. There is no sense of how these committees will coordinate and cooperate on matters related to cross-county wildlife corridors, dispersal areas, and human wildlife conflict. 

We’ve highlighted the counties and their new Committee membership affecting the Greater Laikipia Landscape, in the recent gazette announcement <here>. The good news is that many of the Committee members are also members of Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, where relevant. 

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Get To Know Your WRUAs: Ngare Ndare WRUA

Ngare Ndare WRUA is one of the larger sub-catchments in the Upper Ewaso Basin, only second to the Ewaso Narok. The WRUA covers just over 1000 square kilometres impacting Meru, Laikipia and Isiolo counties. 

The water in this sub-catchment is critical to commercial farmers, ranchers/conservancies, small holders and downstream pastoralists. The WRUA membership includes Uhuru Flowers, Timaflor, Ngare Ndare Forest Trust, Borana and Lewa conservancies, Il Ngwesi and Lekkuruki conservancies. 

Much of the water of Ngare Ndare disappears into the sand downstream. In these areas, community wells used to be dug, but they proved treacherous for humans, livestock and wildlife. Sand dams are the preferred technology now, and several sand dams have been built downstream. 

The Disney Conservation Project is working with the Laikipia Forum to sponsor construction of the latest sand dam in Lekkuruki Conservancy. The effort will supply water for wildlife, livestock and Tassia Lodge. This is another effort as well, to mitigate Human Elephant Conflict.

The WRUA forms part of the critical corridor for wildlife passage between Mt. Kenya and the greater Laikipia Landscape. There are plans for the Ngare Ndare Forest and Lewa/Borana Conservancies will be added to the UNESCO Man and Biosphere international program. 

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Elephant Fencing – A Blessing to the Arjiju Community

The 2018 Arjiju elephant fencing initiative has indeed been a blessing to the Arjiju community. Supported by the Disney Conservation Fund, and supervised by the Laikipia Forum with the help of ILMAMUSI Forest Association, the fence protects 45 acres of land used by community members living alongside the Mukogodo Forest.

Residents of Arjiju confirm better harvests, increased farm produce, and also highlight reduction of Human Wildlife Conflicts within the area thus creating a safe environment for families.  

Arjiju holds around 200 households and is predominantly a pastoralist community. Over the years it has embraced farming as well. Mr. Nicholas Kodei, the chair of Nasela self-help group, confirms. Having practiced farming for years, it was a nuisance when the elephants kept invading farms and destroying crops. He adds that the problem escalated in 2016/2017, leading to two elephants losing their lives as a result of the conflicts.

Laikipia Forum’s intervention with the help of Disney/Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS) and Borana Conservancy, however, made the difference and brought security to the community. Mr. Kodei mentions that the fencing has enhanced peace and tranquility, and as a result, has inspired him to start up the Tuan Fodder Cooperative to help address food supply for pastoralist livestock in the area.

The Cooperative will benefit the community, educating them on how to plant and harvest grass for hay. Mr. Kodei envisions a scenario where ‘grass is following livestock and not the reverse’. He believes this will go a long way in promoting sustainable pastoralism and as well as protecting the adjacent conservancies and ranches.