Renowned for world-class scenery and wildlife, Kenya depends on its biodiversity and natural resources for much of its economy. The nation’s forests, rivers, lakes and soils sustain most Kenyans directly. USAID’s environment and natural resource management program supports sustainable growth in three key sectors of the economy – tourism, forestry and agriculture – as well as through the global climate change initiative which supports adaptation, mitigation and clean/renewable energy.
Tourism, for which the major draw is wildlife, contributes up to 14% of GDP. It is also the country’s second top earner of foreign exchange after agriculture, which contributes up to 25% of GDP.
Up to 80 % of Kenyans work at least part-time in farming or pastoralism and are dependent on well-managed natural resources, particularly stable water catchment areas.
There was a long drought culminating at the end of 2009 which hit both people and ecosystems hard and put millions of Kenyans on food relief and killed large numbers of both wildlife and livestock as landscapes remained brown month after month. The drought amplified other challenges, including the continued breakdown of traditional pastoral grazing systems; conflicts over insecure property rights; ineffective forest management; and historic animosity among ethnic groups.
The environment program invests in an array of ‘tools and technologies’ which improve natural resource management (NRM) while providing incentives for biodiversity conservation, addressing climate change, and sustainable forest conservation:
i) reforms in policies, laws and regulations governing wildlife, forests and land management;
ii) training and organizational development across the array of conservation and environmental management entities (GoK, NGOs and community groups);
iii) conservation planning and ecosystem monitoring;
iv) climate change adaptation and mitigation activities; and
v) nature-based enterprises, including eco-tourism
USAID collaborates with the GoK, internationally and nationally renowned NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) to maintain wildlife migration corridors and dispersion areas. USAID works with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), particularly to improve its revenue collection system and in the decentralization of wildlife management operations.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
USAID is supporting the GoK in protecting its valuable forests and promoting systainable land use through activities such as:
- technical assistance to the nascent Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
- Support to the GoK’s Task Force on the Conservation of the Mau Forest Complex (which produced an action plan to restore <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />
’s most significant water tower - the Mau ecosystem). Kenya
- Funding an interdisciplinary team of experts to carry out an assessment of land tenure and administration, land and natural resource management, food security and rural livelihoods in the
in the Mau. Upper Mara River Basin
- Financing the survey and marking of boundaries of the Transmara and
blocks and the preparation of title deeds to these forests for the Kenya Forest Service. South Western Mau Forest
Other forestry initiatives include farm-forestry, carbon financing, support for
Land Tenure and Property Rights (LTPR)
Contested, illegal or irregular land allocations have contributed to violent clashes and political instability for many years, but most noticeably in 1992, 1997 and 2007/08. USAID assists the Government of Kenya grapple with sensitive land-related issues as the country emerges from post-election conflict and takes steps to address its root causes.
USAID has supported the National Land Policy Formulation Process since 2004. In March/April 2008, USAID undertook reviews of the draft Policy and assessed the influence of LTPR on biodiversity conservation, natural resource-based enterprise and agricultural productivity and minority rights of women and youth. Findings and recommendations from those studies have informed our initiatives in land reform that address underlying causes of instability and which have near-term ‘visibility’ or impact on Kenya’s current transition from crisis; for example:
- land tenure in the context of constitutional reform;
- technical assistance in a review of the Land Reform Support Program and, if necessary, re-prioritization of its action plan; and
- ‘demonstration interventions’ to apply and ‘test’ Policy principles and to resolve critical LTPR issues that reinforce inequity and constrain economic growth.
Climate Change Initiatives
USAID supports small holder and subsistence farmers to plant trees to improve their livelihoods and at the same time address local, regional and global environmental issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. Farmers improve their livelihoods by securing economic benefits from carbon sequestration, with sustainable woodlots, by increasing crop yields through conservation farming and from sustainable and efficient use of wood fuel. USAID pays a small stipend to participating farmers as an incentive to plant trees and maintain tree cover on their farms. Basically, this is a nominal, substitute payment for the ‘environmental services’ farmers are providing - reduced ‘pressure’ on natural forests, stabilizing streamside areas and reducing erosion - while the market develops for carbon captured through forest management and improved land management.