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Combating Human Elephant Conflict in Mukogodo Forest

ILMAMUSI Rangers and community members learn about digital camera traps before installation

The Wildlife Conservation Society/Disney Foundation has been supporting ILMAMUSI CFA through the Laikipia Wildlife Forum for the last 3 years to reduce human elephant conflict within and around Mukogodo Forest.

The efforts center around solar powered fencing, support to development of grazing plans, and spring protection. Springs are often where people and wildlife meet and mix, often to the disadvantage of each.

In 2019 a spring protection project was completed in Sieku Location, Nandungoro area. Loontana spring had previously been an area of Human-Elephant Conflicts because it is a major source of water for domestic, livestock and wildlife use, particularly during the dry season.

Community members have reported several cases of elephants at the dedicated livestock/wildlife drinking area. Camera traps are now being used to monitor use of the springs and water access points.

The camera traps will supplement information being collected by ILMAMUSI CFA rangers and the Loontana water committee on wildlife sightings, the frequency of wildlife use of the spring and potential conflicts.

Night image of Hyenas at the water point as captured by the camera trap

Installation of the camera traps requires community engagement. Community members were sensitized on wildlife monitoring using camera traps, and to help in making sure the camera traps are secure. Five Loontana spring water committee members and three ILMAMUSI CFA rangers were involved in the training and operation of the camera traps.

45 households of Nandungoro village (some 300 people) in the Mukogodo Forest, rely on water from Loontana spring for domestic and livestock use. Disney has supported the project that pumps water from the spring site to a community water point where household water collectors are separated from potential conflicts with wildlife.

This initiative is supported by

and implemented by Laikipia Forum with the  support of

                                                         

 

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Rehabilitation of Nanyuki and Likii Rivers For a Greener Future

Deputy County Commissioner, Esther Mwamure, (LEFT) plants a tree during the Rivers Nanyuki and Likii rehabilitation launch

“Plant a tree and leave a green legacy,” Deputy County Commissioner, Esther Mwamure.

Storm Water and Environment Management Forum (SWEMF) is a Community Based Organization, initiated by Francis Githui, and was registered in 2018. They have been at the forefront of efforts for environmental conservation and management along our local rivers. SWEMF aims to rehabilitate and conserve various riparian lands including those of Likii and  Nanyuki Rivers.

On 24th October 2020, SWEMF invited their partners for the official launch of the rehabilitation of 9.8 Kilometres of Nanyuki river and 8.5km of the Likii river.

The event brought together partners such as

  • Hearts of Green
  • Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership
  • Mount Kenya Trust
  • Kenya Water Towers
  • Nanyuki WRUA
  • BATUK
  • William Holden
  • Youth Affairs department, NEMA
  • Water Resources Authority (WRA)
  • Laikipia County’s Ministry of Water Environment and Natural Resources as well as the National Government.

Pollution, deforestation and encroachment have riddled these river areas. During the campaign, people were encouraged to embrace sustainable building technologies and to avoid construction in riparian areas. People were also discouraged from carrying out their farming activities on riparian areas as this results in river pollution, especially for downstream water users.

Esther Mwamure, Deputy County Commissioner Laikipia, pointed out that the Kazi Mtaani youths involved in the initiative, had already removed more than 100 tonnes of garbage from the Nanyuki and Likii rivers and would continue with their clean-up efforts to ensure that we have clean and safe water for our use.

The importance of planting trees was reiterated throughout the event as trees would prevent erosion and help prevent pollution. Trees also bring about clean and fresh air and would help in stabilizing the river banks.

Many speakers also pointed to the importance of planting trees to help Laikipia and Kenya attain the required 10% tree cover commitment.

Chairman Githui, also mentioned that through their edible rivers initiative, many local community members would benefit. Francis believes that through this initiative many nutritional problems prevalent in the county can be avoided and that the project will also be beneficial to wildlife coexisting with people and will inevitably mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

To read more on SWEMF’s environmental initiatives, click on the link below.

https://laikipia.org/championing-practical-environmental-conservation/

All partners emphasized their willingness to collaborate on the restoration and rehabilitation of the rivers and their banks. Hearts of Green said that they would be willing to partner with other organizations to grow around 200,000 seedlings.

The launch was a successful event and is linked to the greening effort of conserving 100 acres of green spaces for Nanyuki@100. The event set a good precedent for river and environmental conservation in the County. Hopefully, everyone who planted a tree during the event can continue monitoring and nurture it.

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Silver Lining for the Landscape’s Tourism Industry?

Will we come out stronger, smarter and more successful?

The tourism sector has always been one of the main revenue generators in our country, and the Laikipia landscape in particular. With the outbreak of COVID 19, however, the tourism industry was immensely affected. Many people have since lost their jobs and livelihoods as a consequence.

The Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA) has been working with the KTB, TRA , County governments, and tourism destinations and establishments to restore some sense of normalcy and resilience to the sector. Over the last few months, we have worked on:

TRA compliance certificates

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and other stakeholders developed health and safety protocols for the sector. The Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) is charged with oversight implementation of these protocols.

The TRA developed a checklist for tourism activities and services with a compliance certificate issued for each entity after application and approval.

LTA has been forwarding applications for COVID 19 compliance certificates and self-assessment checklists from our members for processing with nearly all participating establishments now issued with their self-compliance certificates and stickers.

Destination Laikipia Website

Destination Laikipia is a concerted effort by the County Government of Laikipia in collaboration with the Laikipia Tourism Association to realize our shared commitment to support and market Laikipia as the leading tourism destination in the region. The new website will market what our landscape has to offer.

The Laikipia Tourism Association has therefore been working with the Laikipia County Development Authority to manage private sector inputs to the new site. Photos, logos, contact details et cetera will go a long way in marketing our destinations at a time when many of them are trying to get back on their feet.

There is no cost to these establishments to market themselves on the website.

 Twende Nanyuki Mwisho Wa Reli Initiative

The World Tourism day is celebrated on the 27th of September of every year. It is celebrated to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. This year, the Laikipia Tourism Association helped the county celebrate the event in style. We worked closely with the Standard Group, Ol Pejeta, and other partners to ensure that residents of neighbouring counties travelled to Nanyuki through the recently revamped railway line. Most of our establishments around town reported nearly 70% occupancy for the weekend. Considering the impacts of the virus, this is a big boost.

 

LTA pledges to support all initiatives that will reinvigorate our tourism industry and bring benefits to our people and economy. More on the Twende Nanyuki initiative

 

Tourism Finance Corporation Stimulus Loans

A total of 3 billion was injected to the Tourism Finance Corporation for soft loans to hotels and related establishments to restore the tourism sector from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), has therefore invited investors, tourism establishments to apply for the tourism recovery stimulus soft loans online from 22nd September 2020 to 12th October 2020. The Laikipia Tourism Association has offered support by providing guidance on the loan application process as well as helping review applications before submission.

 

The Laikipia Tourism Association will continue to be at the forefront to ensure that we continue advocating on issues affecting sustainable tourism in Laikipia. That we continue to represent our tourism industry at national and regional levels on all matters impacting tourism and that we continue to work with various partners to consolidate marketing, branding and communications that support Laikipia landscape tourism.

Should you be having any questions, suggestions or comments regarding the state of the tourism sector, you can reach us through our social media handles.

Facebook- Laikipia Tourism Association

Twitter- @TourismLaikipia

Or through email- tourismlaikipia@laikipia.org

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Long-term Solutions: Managing Invasive Species in Laikipia North

 

Mr. John Letai, the Deputy Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Laikipia Count,y shares his views with stakeholders during an invasive species field monitoring visit.

The County Government of Laikipia and stakeholders continue to work on mitigation measures to curb the spread of the Opuntia Stricta and the Acacia Reficiens. They firmly believe that the development of an Invasive species management plan is the best action to take us forward in our efforts.

The exponential spread of these invasive species has for years now led to negative ecological, and socio-economic impacts in the region. Laikipia County has been on the forefront on engaging different stakeholders working on projects related to invasive species management. The County through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources leads a stakeholder forum which meets on quarterly basis for monitoring of different projects under implementation. The stakeholder forum is comprised of the following members Stakeholders from the local communities in 13 Group Ranches across Laikipia North, Laikipia County Government (LCG), Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), World Vision International – Kenya (WV), ILMAMUSI Mukogodo Forest AssociationNaibung’ a ConservanciesNational Environment Management Authority – Laikipia County (NEMA), Loisaba ConservancyUaso Nyiro Baboon Project (UNBP) and Loldaiga Ranch have all been working to try and come up with management/control/eradication measures of Opuntia stricta through either mechanical removal or biological control, involved in sensitization of local communities on the effects of Opuntia, and mapping of the extent of the Invasive species.

Recently the stakeholder forum held a 2-day workshop sponsored by IMARA project which involved a field visit to the different sites undertaking biological and mechanical control and a brainstorming workshop to develop strategies on how to mobilize for additional funds towards invasive species management efforts. During the field visit at Ilpolei site in which Enduata group member, Magdalene Silam shared her views towards the management efforts being conducted …..“Opuntia has for a long time been a constant headache to me and my family. This species has led to the loss of most of our grazing land which consequently led to the death of most of our livestock. I am very happy with the current partnerships and I continue to see results from both mechanical and biological control methods. It would be nice to see if these methods can be integrated for best results,”.

The development of a County Invasive Species Management Plan and budget was agreed as one of the key strategies to be developed towards invasive species management efforts. During the discussions held on the 21st and 22nd of September 2020. The meeting revolved around 2 main areas: the cost of mechanical removal of opuntia and the sustainability of the opuntia management projects. There was a specific focus on.

  1. How to prevent the spread of Opuntia in areas where it already exists.
  2. How to prevent the spread of opuntia in uninfected areas
  3. Management of areas which have Opuntia
  4. Land restoration after the management efforts are complete.

The meeting concluded that a management plan for Opuntia stricta and other invasive species in Laikipia North be developed. It was also decided that capacity-building efforts towards ownership of the management efforts ongoing to be built in current and future projects.

The County Government continues to work on developing a County Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) and it was agreed that invasive species should be included as a major component with immediate priorities identified in the plan for budgeting and action.

Laikipia County is working towards the development of a county invasive species policy. The Forum is in the process of producing a documentary that will provide information on the efforts made in managing the invasive species. The documentary will as well be used as a tool to provide useful information during the policy development process and act as a fundraising tool for invasive species management.

A technical committee was formed to spearhead the proposed action plans. The committee is comprised of a membership derived from the thematic areas of focus in relation to the management of the invasive species.

Roles:

  1. Lead in the development of draft management plan
  2. Budgeting process, including fundraising
  3. First meeting to be decided by NEMA with close collaboration with World Vision-IMARA Project

The committee is as listed below;

No Organization Contact
1 National Environment Management Authorirty (Lead) cdelaikipia@gmail.com
2 Northern Rangeland Trust Richard.kasoo@nrt-kenya.org
3 World Vision Simon_mbuki@wvi.org
4 Kenya Forest Research Institute schoge@kefri.org
5 Ilmamusi CFA Ilmamusi.cfa@gmail.com
6 Laikipia Forum Margaret.wambua@laikipia.org
7 TWALA rosemarynenini@gmail.com
8 Laikipia County Government jletai7@gmail.com
9 Kenya Wildlife Service luke.lukaria@gmail.com
10 Permaculture info@lpct.or.ke
11 Lolldaiga harrybmwells@gmail.com
12 Naibunga Naibungaupper@nrt-kenya.org
13 Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project dr.shirleycstrum@gmail.com

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Nanyuki@100

This year, Nanyuki celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The County Government is keen to link this celebration to a string of events over the next four months. Here are some of them!

  1. World Tourism Day will be celebrated in Nanyuki, the weekend of September 26 and 27th, with a marketing and advertising campaign led by the County and the Standard Media Group.

They will feature the marketing line, “Twende Nanyuki – Mwisho Wa Reli”, and #Destination Laikipia.

This is a good chance to advertise and market LTA services and activities for the public.

Destination Laikipia is again being (re)launched, and this time led by the Laikipia County Development Authority. Stay tuned for the release of the revised website produced in concert with the Laikipia Tourism Authority, and featuring all things great within the County  and its surrounds.

  1. 100for100 – Greening Nanyuki. A Task Force of County, LCDA, the Forum, and MKEWP have been working hard these last two months to identify at least 100 acres of green public areas to preserve in the face of Nanyuki’s growth. We are hoping to have at least 1 acre of green preserved for each year of the town’s age.

 

The Task Force identified more than the 100 acres of greens space that include riparian walkways and picnic/public grounds.  The proposals now sit with the County Government for support and action. We expect the next steps to be public engagement in the location and confirmation of the sites/walkways

  1. Nanyuki@100

The town will celebrate the build-up to the Anniversary birthday party expected on or close to Jamhuri Day (December 12). Stay tuned for the program of events expected out from County Government soon.

And expect more news and contributions from our citizens, banks and businesses in support of the event!

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Man on A Mission: EMU-SACCO Membership Recruitment

Antony Muriungi, the EMU-SACCO Marketing Officer, heading out on another recruitment mission

Two years ago, water users  in our Basin came together. We were able to set up a financial the Ewaso Maji Users  (EMU) Sacco to meet our financial and agricultural needs.

Farmer’s attitudes have since changed from looking at subsistence agriculture as the only source of livelihood to become better water managers and more dynamic entrepreneurs on an individual level.

One man who has been on the wheels of this change is Mr. Antony Muriungi, the Ewaso Maji Users Marketing Officer.

Since joining EMU-SACCO, Anthony has been able to fast track membership growth from 134 members to 202 members in just two months. Antony attributes this steady growth to close collaborations and support in the recruitment process from Water Resources Users Associations, Community Water Projects and the SACCO management team.

“Our members needed loan facilities without providing collateral or security as is a requirement by the main Banks. They believed that such loans could only be provided efficiently and urgently by an in-house Sacco.”

“We must understand that the members are the backbone of Ewaso Maji Users Sacco, and the reason we exist. As part of our mission to transform our member’s livelihoods through provision of financial solutions to improve water security and sustainable economic empowerment in Ewaso Basin, we focus on working with each member personally to better understand their financial goals and offer attainable solutions that really make a difference, ”says Anthony.

He adds that the SACCO is fully aware that as a cooperative, profits are returned to members, in the form of improved services, lower interest rates, and higher deposit rates.

“We know we are delivering on these promises as our members have been extremely active in all areas of our offerings, including telling us where we are doing great and where we can improve. We are willing to go all the way and introduce more products which shall be much affordable to our Members.”

Emu Sacco provides a number of financial products,  the main one being the water loan dubbed, Maji Chap Chap, with an interest rate of 0.8% on a reducing balance. Through this loan members are linked to service providers and acquire water infrastructure/technology at discounted prices.

Here are some important testimonials from EMU Sacco members

I have been a member of the Sacco for one year and during my time as a member, I have nothing but love for everyone who works and support this society. I believe that the Sacco will grow to be a big Sacco and have great impact on the lives of farmers. I am so proud to be a member!- bona fide member                  Isaac Magiri

Since I Joined Emu Sacco, I have benefitted from linkages to service providers like, Sun Culture. I was able to get a solar pump at very low price and this pump has helped boost my farming.  Even during hard times like this of the Covid pandemic, Emu Sacco has always communicated to us as members in time to help us understand situations which makes it even better for us as members. Asante Emu Sacco!                 Mr. Japhet Kariithi

What I can testify is that there has been a steadfast growth in the Sacco over the last months and we are aiming to greater heights for growth. I am working to ensure EMU SACCO becomes a leading financial institution offering superior financial access along the Ewaso and Mount Kenya region.    Anthony Muriungi

 

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Making Sense of the New Mukogodo

Kenya Forest Service Board Chairman, Mr. Peter Kinyua, addresses members of the Ilmamusi Mukogodo Community Forest Association and surrounding community stakeholders in August

A series of three meetings have worked to re-establish the representation and compliance of ILMAMUSI CFA with the laws governing national forests and resources in the Country.

There are three major and important results coming out of these meetings.

  1. KFS has been importantly engaged in the re-establishment of the CFA and is committed to its success. The engagement of the Chairman of the Board is an indication of their more serious support for the Forest. This KFS engagement has been missing for the last 13 years.
  2. The Forest now has an official register of members allowed entry and use of the Forest’s resources. They are drawn from the communities living within 5 km of the Forest edge. This is the first time ever ILMAMUSI CFA has its own membership register; previously the CFA had relied on Group Ranch registers from Ilngwesi, Makurian, Kurikuri and Lekurruki Group Ranches. A total of 2,296 have now populated the CFA register. Membership registration will be an annual activity; it is the foundation upon which community involvement in co-management of forest resources in Kenya is established.
  3. Six forest user groups have been formed in each Conservancy to manage specific elements of the Forest’s future. These groups are responsible for the access, use, and sustainable management of these 6 resources. They include honey harvesting, herbal medicine collection, pasture and water, ecotourism, tree nurseries establishment, and fuel wood collection. 6 representatives have been selected from these 24 community members selected to represent each of these Forest uses.

This is a significant departure from the past CFA Management formation in which Community Based Organizations (CBOs) Chairpersons were appointed to the Board to represent the interests of forest user groups.

These 6 forest user group representatives are added to the full management committee of ILMAMUSI.

This process is being supported by FAO through the GEF-6 Restoration of Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Kenya through Bio-enterprise Development and Other Incentives

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Wildlife – How Much Longer?

Coexistence is the key to survival of the Serengeti, Okavango Delta and Kalahari regions, some of the world’s most prolific wildlife ecosystems that are surrounded by fast-growing human communities. It’s no different in Laikipia.

Rural livelihoods depend on these forests, fisheries and rangelands, so effective and lasting conservation strategies must find ways not only to protect wildlife and the environment but also to deliver economic opportunities at local and national scales. In Kenya, for example, up to 65% of all wildlife is found on community and private lands, outside government parks and reserves, and wildlife tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry . . .

But both the economic drivers of wildlife conservation – TOURISM, (confounded by the Covid Pandemic), and the belief that WILDLIFE MUST PAY ITS WAY are compromised by a confused and emotional public.

This is the role of the Laikipia Forum – to harness collective action and economic innovation in service to the conservation and management of our natural resources.

Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE program in the 1980s, helped pioneer the idea of generating community-level incentives for wildlife conservation through sustainable and locally managed use. But CONSERVATION is littered with projects that promised to make conservation profitable and beneficial to local communities but struggled to deliver. This includes Kenya, and Laikipia where LWF had its origins in consumptive wildlife use between 1994 and 2004.

But since, our East Africa region has been a source of fertile innovation for conservation efforts.

Two important trends are emerging in Kenya – KWCA as the voice of the new generation of conservancy movements and the Task Force Report on Consumptive Wildlife Use that calls for a new approach to our definition of wildlife, consumption and biodiversity conservation.

Today, it’s clear that it can be done: A “conservation economy” can create jobs and attract investment while protecting and sustaining the ecological wealth that peoples’ livelihoods depend on. A rising generation of African conservation entrepreneurs . . . is reframing conservation as a growth sector.”

This rising generation is celebrated in this story  in the Stanford Social Innovation review.

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Locust Invasion In Kenya On the Decrease?

The desert locust infestation could be coming under control now. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation , Kenya has beaten the locust upsurge, at least for now.

FAO, however, warns that more people in Kenya and the region will be food insecure due to the damage caused by the locusts on food, as well as pastures for livestock. The re -emergence of swarms in Samburu County give additional cause for concern.

FAO noted that significant progress has been made in fighting the desert locusts in the region, with Kenya standing out among the countries that have posted major milestones.

The number of counties infested by locusts has gone down to two from 29 – more than half of the country, at the beginning of this year.

“In Kenya, only two of the 29 counties that were infested in February have desert locusts today,” FAO said.

The Organization noted that having locusts under control was due to efforts by FAO, its partners, and East African governments in building capacity to fight the locusts. The desert locusts’ invasion has resulted in major threat to food security across East Africa as well as parts of Asia and Middle East.

New technologies have been deployed in the fight to control the spread and location of locust swarms, including transmitters attached to locusts (picture above)  and the use of drones.

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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.