Stories from around Kenya
Kenyan and Dutch Partnership to support water-wise economic development and ecosystem conservation in the Mara River Basin
New efforts to protect the spectacular wildebeest migration and the greater Mau Mara Serengeti ecosystem ultimately improving the economic development of people in the Mara River Basin are set to begin when Kenyan and Dutch partners under the guidance of UNESCO-IHE and WWF in Kenya start implementing the 4 year KES 1 billion Mau Mara Serengeti (MaMaSe) Sustainable Water Initiative.
Speaking during the inception workshop held in Narok on 31 January 2014, the Country Director of WWF Kenya, Mohamed Awer said ‘this consortium has brought together water resource management partners in Kenya such as Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA), Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), Universities and NGOs with the thinking of harnessing financial and technical resources.’ Michael McClain, the MaMaSe Programme Leader added, ‘we have four knowledge institutions and one regional water authority from the Netherlands that will be supporting the partners in Kenya. Private sector partners, such as the recently created Mara Farming, Inc., will also play important roles in the initiative.’
The MaMaSe Initiative is aimed at improving water safety and security in the Mara River Basin to support poverty reduction, sustainable economic growth, and conservation of the basin’s world-renowned ecosystems. This will be carried out through a broad-based, basin-scale public-private-partnership (PPP), consisting of governmental, civil society, private sector, NGO, and knowledge institutions and designed to empower people of the Mara River Basin and promote self-reliance.
The MaMaSe Initiative is different and impressively innovative, as it will introduce new sustainable financing mechanisms to support conservation work in this basin as well as aid in the application of new technologies to support the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) to carry out real-time monitoring of rivers. Market-based strategies will also see farmers and conservancies improving their economic wellbeing. Furthermore, a Regional Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Water Management will be introduced and will be supported by Masai Mara and Egerton Universities.
This MaMaSe Initiative is supported financially by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, HSBC Bank, and the implementing partners themselves.
Kenya’s Black Rhinos get Microchips
The much-anticipated implementation of Kenya’s Rhino Microchip Programme recently commenced in the Masai Mara Game Reserve and the Lake Nakuru National Park. The implantation of microchips runs concurrently with the ear notching of unmarked or younger rhinos and is being implemented by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) with the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) together with County Governments such as Narok.
The deployment of microchips and notching of rhino ears combined with forensic DNA technology will allow for 100% traceability of every live animal within Kenya and all rhino horns in the stockpiles. This will serve to strengthen rhino monitoring, anti-poaching activities and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally.
Kenya is at the forefront of embracing the use of more sophisticated technology to counter illegal wildlife trade and stop the loss of flagship species such as rhinos and elephants. During the launch of this microchipping exercise, Dr. Lekolool of KWS said, “the forensic DNA technology will greatly improve the ability of prosecutors to bring to court a case of not only possession of a wildlife trophy, but will also be used to trace back the horn to a poaching incident; thus providing greater evidence hence more punitive penalties.” Mohammed Awer, WWF Kenya’s Country Director added that, “since poachers are using sophisticated technology, it’s high time that Kenya embraces the same. WWF is committed to supporting the integration of new technology and has already purchased the microchips at a cost of Ksh.1.5million (USD 17,647) and supporting the implanting exercise in the Masai Mara at a cost of Ksh.5million (USD 58,823).”
Currently, KWS and WWF are working together to ensure that Kenya meets the CITES CoP16 rhino decisions that seeks to ensure that rhinos remain viable and able to survive current and future threats. Success in this effort would not only secure rhino populations in Kenya but also deliver improved governance and institutional strengthening in government, improved ability of government to combat other transnational organized crimes, and increased national and regional stability, all of which creates a more conducive environment for sustainable economic development.
WWF Kenya to strengthen CBNRM in its programmes
WWF Kenya has acknowledged the need to incorporate Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) principles and ensure benefits are accrued to the local people in the organization’s conservation work. Conversely, WWF as has demonstrated in previous occasions will be able to lead by example and create best practices for adoption for both state and non-state actors including peer organizations.
CBNRM will be mainstreamed into WWF Kenya programmes by adopting it as an approach to ensure that social principles are integrated across all the conservation programmes, projects and activities in line with supporting and implementing Social Development for Conservation (SD4C) activities and actions within WWF Kenya.
WWF has been working in Kenya for the last 50 years with considerable gains. These gains are recognized only by a few, as most communities and citizens relate WWF to wildlife with little to be said on social development. Increasingly, the WWF Network recognizes that social development would support conservation and hence emphasis on Social Development for Conservation (SD4C). Adopting CBNRM as a way of undertaking conservation for natural resources in Kenya is a beneficial approach for conservation and also for people’s livelihoods.
Kenya is rich in biodiversity, which is a key driver of national and local development agenda and if well managed and utilized can contribute significantly to human development and poverty reduction. Progressively, the Kenyan constitution 2010 now recognizes community participation in the management of natural resources, and access and equitable sharing of benefits from natural resources. Currently, the government is reviewing and re-aligning most of the sectoral policies and legal frameworks, creating an opportunity to ensure they adhere to the CBNRM principles. In the revision of policies of the major natural resources sectors namely; wildlife, forestry, fisheries and water and also community land, there is the letter of the law to include communities as key pillars in management.
WWF is keen to ensure that CBNRM principles are adhered to not only within the organization but externally and more specifically, with the policies and laws that affect the environment we work in; of note is the work that WWF did to ensure that community and civil society views are included in the recently passed Wildlife Act 2013.
WWF to green the Oil and Gas sector
In the past 2 years, Kenya has discovered 3 large oil wells in Northern Kenya, which has led to intensified exploration and development of petroleum resource in the country. Kenya is looking forward to huge infrastructure and improved standards of living, however this comes with social and environmental risks.
WWF Kenya through its Oil for Development (OFD) project aims to ensure that environmental and social concerns are fully integrated in petroleum resources development. To achieve this, WWF is working with national and county governments, the private sector as well as the civil society (through the network dubbed the Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group www.kogwg.org).
WWF is working to promote global business standards and tools and influence policy in oil and gas. Through the OFD project, the organization aims to push for application of the precautionary principle in development of oil and gas as well as related infrastructure, especially those that lie on priority conservation areas while lobbying for the implementation of 100 percent renewable energy in Kenya by 2050.
So far, WWF and its partners has prepared biodiversity maps for Lamu County, trained the National Fossil Fuels Advisory Committee (NAFFAC), promoted a regional (Eastern Africa) civil society alliance, trained environmental journalists on oil and gas, conducted a survey of oil and gas stakeholders as well as a study on key policy gaps.
Kenya Finally Gets a New Wildlife Law
The conservation fraternity in Kenya was elated when the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 was finally passed with WWF having coordinated the input of environmental civil society organizations views. This law was a culmination of efforts spanning over 15 years’ to get a comprehensive and all-inclusive legislation in place.
The Wildlife Act came into force on January 10th 2014, having received Presidential assent on 24th December 2014. This new law is aimed at improving the protection, conservation, sustainable use and management of the country’s wildlife resources. Consequently, the law was drafted with a view to addressing the loss of wildlife, which had exacerbated despite high profile conservation efforts, by various institutions. This loss in wildlife resources was attributed in varying proportions to a combination of policy, institutional and market failures.
This new law provides for restructured governance of wildlife resources by separating the regulation and management functions from those of research. Furthermore, new structures have been established at the County level in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
The perennial challenge of poaching and wildlife habitat destruction has been looked into with this law setting out stiffer fines and punishments for offenders (a move that is expected to discourage would be offenders). As a demonstration of how effective this new law can be, on January 28th 2014, a Kenyan court handed a record sentence to a Chinese ivory smuggler, the first person convicted under this new law. Mr. Tang Yong Jian was ordered to pay 20 million shillings (170,500 euros, 233,000 dollars) or serve a jail term of seven years for being in possession of a tusk weighing 3.4 kilogrammes (7.5 pounds).
Communities living with wildlife or those that live adjacent to protected areas will be a happier lot as this law provides for a significant increase in the awards for injury and death resulting from wild animals.
WWF remains committed to ensuring the full operalisation of this Act and engage in continuous efforts to improve the sustainable management of wildlife resources in Kenya and in the trans frontier areas.
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