Community Conservancy’s Model Champions Peace Along The Borders

Pastoral communities along the West Pokot and Turkana border points are set to enjoy peace owing to efforts by community conservancies within the area.

In West Pokot and Turkana, cattle rustling, and cases of poaching and human wildlife conflict activities have been causing loss of lives and property with conservancies coming on board to help in absorbing climate change shocks, improving security and reducing poverty.

The community conservancies of Pello and Masol courtesy of Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) are playing a pioneering role in restoring peace in the volatile area.

Among the hot spot areas where calm has been restored are Akiriamet, Akulo, Amolem, Lochakula, Kainuk and Sarmach.

Speaking in Kapenguria while ending the Sh540 European Union (EU) Funded Ustahimilivu Project in West Pokot County, NRT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Lalampaa said the community conservancies have played a major role in restoring endangered wildlife species, creating jobs and ending human-wildlife conflicts among co

Lalampaa said that the programme is implemented by a consortium of five technical partners that include European Union (EU) in Kenya, the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), E4Impact Foundation, European Committee for Training and Agriculture (CEFA), Social Ministry Research Network (SOMIRENEC), AMREF Health Africa, West Pokot County Government and the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) playing the oversight role.

Ustahimilivu programme aimed at supporting resilience for sustainable livelihoods through the community conservancy model and restoring drought resilience within 11 wards of lowlands in West Pokot County.

‘NRT started working here in 2015 with funding from Tullow through Pello and Masol conservancies and focused on resilience due to drought and climate change. The United Nations 2019 bilateral agreement between Kenya and the European Union gave out 4.5 million euros. We are all victims of climate change. Fodder production, grass seeds harvesting, value chains like hybrid mangoes
, bee processing,’ he said.

The CEO said the community conservancies have promoted peace in the area by increasing safety for people and wildlife with residents having embraced conservation.

‘Since we started community conservancies, residents have seen the importance of conservation through sensitization initiatives.They now own the activities and they are promoting it with total of 76 rangers having been employed by NRT to help in providing security information where human-animal conflict has reduced and irrigation projects being initiated by the national and county governments,’ he stated.

Lalampaa observed that before the initiatives, there used to be cases of elephants destroying crops but now the problem has subsided.

‘The conservancies have helped in conflict resolution, taming livestock theft and highway banditry as well as poaching. This has developed increased wealth and job opportunities through tourism and diversified economic activities,’ he explained.

He said that reformed warriors who used
to engage in banditry and cattle rustling activities and women in volatile areas previously affected by insecurity are now engaging in incoming generating activities.

‘We have realized range land restoration, water, land, cooperatives and peace,’ stated the NRT CEO.

He allayed fears that the organisation was after grabbing the community land.

‘Conservancies are Community Based Organisations (CBOS) not protected areas. Ninety-five percent is about development, livelihoods and natural resources empower communities. People should stop falling prey to such narrative instead cultivate a conductive environment to attract partners,’ he advised.

The chairperson of the Masol conservancy Phillip Lomong’in observed that the conservancies have helped a lot in transforming the lives of youths in the area. He said positive results in peace among neighboring communities have been realized.

‘Communities have united because of the conservancies in Turkana County like Katilu and Lopakad,’ said Lomong’in mentioning that th
ere was a lot of poaching where many people lost lives. ‘We can have hotels and resorts to attract tourists for the area to develop,’ added Mr Lomongi’n.

He said this has uplifted their lives as many people are earning a living providing anti-poaching training and security to conservancies noting the initiative aims to help herders grow and store fodder to cushion the blow of prolonged dry spells.

The NRT Director in West Pokot and Baringo Counties Ms Rebecca Chebet mentioned that the community conservancies have promoted peace in the area by increasing safety for people and wildlife.

‘The project has united farmers to sell honey known as aggregation. We want farmers to graduate and move from self-help groups to cooperate for enhanced businesses. The value chain has been improved and locals are getting income,’ she said.

She pointed out that the project has improved the food and nutrition security of vulnerable households in the region, and more so for women and children.

‘The Ustahimilivu project has co
ntributed significantly to the resilience building and increased crop production through irrigation agriculture such as the Parassany Irrigation Scheme,’ she said.

She noted that now there is increased livestock production and income, increased production through beekeeping and mango production, increased access to water and adoption of hygiene practices and reduced incidences of human-wildlife conflicts

She said the project has promoted the fundamental socio-economic human rights, such as the right to health and the right to food of acceptable quality, endorsed by the Kenyan Constitution.

‘It has enhanced climate-resilience, economic development, and prosperity as well as improved stability, peace, conflict prevention and security in the fragile and challenging region of the lowlands of West Pokot,’she said.

She added the move has ensured better cross-sector synergies and complementarily while strengthening NDMA and county level administration capacities in building drought resilience and food and nutrit
ion security, and secure livelihoods for vulnerable and at-risk households.

Chebet noted that through this action women, children and youth have been at the forefront in ensuring that they take charge and provide home based solutions that are adaptable to climate change which includes fodder production, modern beekeeping methods, kitchen gardening just to mention a few.

She said the project has improved the lives and livelihoods of more than 810 among them, 470 boys and 330 girls.

West Pokot Deputy Governor Robert Komolle who launched 20 motorbikes for reformed warriors from Masol called on residents to protect wildlife.

He said many learners from less privileged families and orphans whose parents died in conflicts have benefited from bursaries.

Komolle said the main goal of the day was to celebrate the fruits of the resilience programme project in Masol and Pello conservancy saying that it has indirectly benefited 19,000 households by enhancing food security and nutrition.

‘We are pleased as county tod
ay to celebrate the success that NRT has contributed to our communities,” said Komolle

He emphasized that the project has contributed to helping mango farmers in Lomut and Sarmach especially in having modern nursery bed breeds and other improved mango varieties.

”This project has benefited our people of Lomut and Sarmach in getting modern nursery bed seedlings and other improved mango varieties,” said Komolle adding: ‘We will continue to find ways to collaborate to support our communities economically.’

On his part, West Pokot Deputy County commissioner Wycliffe Munanda reiterated that residents have transformed from cattle rustling to engage in development and meaningful businesses. ‘People in Lomut and Sarmach have established tree nurseries and planted mangoes,’ he said adding some had even moved from animal husbandry to crop farming.

Source: Kenya News Agency