The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Samburu County Government, and nine community conservancies— Sera, Westgate, Kalama, Nkoteiya, Meibae, Ltungai and Ngilai, Nalowuon, and Kalepo (Namunyak) —have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide a formal framework for collaboration between them for the development and to strengthen technical cooperation in conservation.
The MOU signing ceremony also included the official launch of the revolutionary Samburu County Conservancies Fund Act—the first county conservancies fund in the country—and the official opening of a tourism facility, the Nkoteiya Community Conservancy Eco-lodge, which was co-funded by the Samburu County Government, with support from African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), The Nature Conservancy, Danida, and USAID.
The MOU signing ceremony also included the official launch of the revolutionary Samburu County Conservancies Fund Act—the first county conservancies fund in the country—and the official opening a tourism facility, the Nkoteiya Community Conservancy Eco-lodge, which was co-funded by the Samburu County Government, with support from African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), The Nature Conservancy, Danida, and USAID.
“The establishment of the Samburu County Community Conservancies Fund Act 2019 will provide a legal framework and is a commitment to the longterm support of conservancies. It is also a window for collaboration with partners in the conservation arena,” said Samburu County Governor H.E. Moses Kasaine Lenolkulal, adding that the MoU signed will help to further strengthen the partnership between Samburu County Government, NRT, and its member community conservancies.
The impact of NRT and community conservancies in northern Kenya is a significant endorsement of the community-led conservation approach, which has not only brought together all the ethnicities across the northern Kenya landscape but has also seen wide political buy-in, with 10 county governments in the landscape actively supporting community conservancies, and at least six offering financial support or starting their own-funded conservancies.
“We have seen the fruits of the community conservancy model. Our children are going to school, water access points and health centers have been built, tourism has employed indigenous communities, women enterprises, like the BeadWORKS program is bringing in income, herders are selling their livestock for a profit, our morans are undertaking technical crafts and others have been employed as rangers, all this is because of coming together and harnessing our God-given natural resources,” said David Lekoomet, NRT Council of Elders Chair, and the Board Chair of Kalama Community Conservancy.
“When we come together, through collaborative efforts, we will achieve more not only for this generation but for our future generations. We are tasked to conserve our natural habitats while safeguarding the livelihoods of indigenous communities,” said Tom Lalampaa NRT CEO.
In 2019, 68,600 people benefited from 126 indigenous-led development projects through the Conservancy Livelihood Funds (CLF), there has been a 96% drop in the number of elephants killed for ivory in NRT member conservancies since 2012, and in 2019, US$ 1.3 million in tourism revenue was earned by communities.
Areas of cooperation in the newly-signed MOU include:
Supporting Community Conservancies (CCYs) to effectively implement and comply with any and all applicable international, regional, national, and county policies and legislation that impacts on natural resource management in general and wildlife conservation in particular within Samburu County.
Supporting CCYs in integrated land use planning and natural resources management in accordance with the existing policy and legal framework at international, national, and county government levels taking cognizance of the need to harmonize various plans applicable at county and ward level, including ecosystem plans, spatial plans, and CIDPs.
Assisting in training, institutional strengthening, and capacity building at all levels to foster and entrench good governance and best practices in carrying out management and administrative responsibilities.
Supporting holistic community engagement in development and wildlife management including monitoring, data management, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife scouting, including harmonizing standard operating procedures.
Providing incentives and mechanisms to encourage indigenous communities to participate in combating illegal wildlife trade and to benefit from wildlife conservation for economic empowerment.
Supporting the development of the Samburu County Wildlife & Natural resource Conservation and Management Strategy following section 5 of the Wildlife Act, 2013 specifically in areas that relate to community and landowners’ participation in wildlife and natural resources conservation.