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SERVIR Project Launch: Joining Hands to Curb the Opuntia Stricta Menace

KES 2 Million has been set aside by the Laikipia County Government to facilitate the mapping and control the infestation of the invasive species Opuntia Stricta, through the biological control method using cochineal produced in three new greenhouses . Prickly pear has gradually encroached parts of the County and is proving to be a menace as it continues to claim grazing land, making it difficult for both wildlife and livestock to feed.

The Laikipia Forum, in partnership with the County Government through the County Department of Water, Environment and Natural Resources, officially launched the SERVIR program on the 16th of May 2019, at Twala Cultural Manyatta in Il Polei group ranch, Laikipia County. SERVIR is supported by RCMRD and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The meeting was used to brief stakeholders in Laikipia on the SERVIR project implementation. The meeting created a perfect opportunity for the stakeholders to share their progress and challenges, as well as their targets towards the control and management of the spread of the invasive species in the Northern Kenya Rangelands. It was noted that  most of the organizations are focused on eradication of opuntia stricta, using mechanical methods (uprooting), biologicalmeans  (using cochineal insect raised in green houses), and bio-enterprise methods (that included fruit collection for wine, juice and jellies).

Laikipia Forum shared the SERVIR project implementation plan and engagement mechanisms to help fast-track the training of rangers and project managers on invasive species mapping using an online application. These results of this exercise will be shared with  the County and the Community.

Some of the recommendations made by the team are as follows;

  1. Laikipia and Samburu Counties to facilitate the process of mapping and eradication of oputia stricta and acacia refeciens
  2. There was a need to bring in board all the stakeholders from the counties infested by invasive plant species that were overwhelming rangelands.
  3. County Government to support the local community by providing tools/technology to aid their efforts on invasive species eradication.
  4. Quarterly meetings to report on the progress of eradication.
  5. Train rangers and green house caretakers on data collection.
  6. Include the counties’ livestock departments for rangeland reseeding support.
  7. Develop a monitoring framework to support these activities.  Laikipia County will coordinate this.

A SERVIR Project monitoring steering committee team was formed to oversee the implementation.  They agreed to meet on the 7th of June, 2019, to develop a monitoring framework. The committee will meet at the Twala Cultural Manyatta. World Vision will assist with the logistics for the meeting.

For more information contact: Margaret Wambua (Margaret.wambua@laikipia.org  or +254 722 369387 ) and John Letai, (jletai7@gmail.com or +254 722 670503 )

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