Dialogue toolkit promotes cross-border cooperation on biodiversity in Kenya and Somalia
A multistakeholder policy dialogue platform (MSP) toolkit developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) has facilitated the development of new conservation plans and biodiversity-based value chains at the Kenya-Somalia border.
The Tana-Kipini Laga Badana bushland and seascape area at the Kenya-Somalia border is prone to instability and conflicts related to natural resources. The border region’s remarkable ecosystems, which are home to several endangered species, are threatened by unsustainable exploitation triggered by lack of regulations and a low level of institutional support.
In 2014, this area was selected as a demonstration site for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development of the Horn of Africa’s (IGAD) regional Biodiversity Management Programme (BMP), funded by the European Union. The BMP aims to enhance governance of natural resources and people and establish collaborative transboundary management of protected areas. PIM partner, World Agroforestry (ICRAF), is one of the BMP’s implementing partners for the Kenya-Somalia site.
At the start of the BMP, the lack of trust among stakeholders in Kenya and Somalia, absence of cross-border governance structures, and conflicting clans and community groupings were identified as impeding factors toward peaceful cooperation on biodiversity management.
In 2016, the program started to use the MSP toolkit developed by PIM/ICRAF researchers, which includes landscape analysis, policy dialogues, and capacity and livelihoods needs assessments. The toolkit aims at creating space for trust building and community participation in decision-making.
This approach led to improved understanding of local knowledge and socio-cultural links between people and nature. It highlighted the need for an inclusive spatial Lamu County land and seascape management plan. It also led to a mutually agreed cross-border governance mechanism. The BMP organized annual MSP workshops involving officials from IGAD, national, regional, and local governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and local community leaders. Action plans were implemented with technical support from PIM/ICRAF researchers and other partners.
The MSP approach led to improved understanding of the local knowledge and socio-cultural links between people and nature and highlighted the need for an inclusive land and seascape management plan.
MSP activities resulted in significant advances in site-specific conservation plans. The Community Development Management Plan for the Hanshak Nyongoro Community Conservancy was developed in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Services and the NGO Northern Rangeland Trust, with funding for 2016-2020. The Hanshak Nyongoro Community Conservancy has 77,896 hectares with a population of 16,000 predominantly engaged in agriculture, pastoralism, and fishing.
The Northern Rangelands Trust reported an increase in wildlife numbers (topi, giraffe, Tana River mangabey, and plains zebra) and less human-wildlife conflict in the area. A road map for re-establishing the Laga Badana National Park in Somalia was set up.
The MSP approach also led to the development of biodiversity-based value chains, which provide diversified livelihoods options, thereby improving coexistence and peace among local communities. For instance, honey and horticultural crop production were strengthened through water harvesting and setting up honey processing facilities.
More than 3,000 people directly benefited from trainings, field days, and demonstration sites. Rainwater harvesting technologies adopted through the MSP were implemented outside the project zone, and more than 50,000 seedlings of indigenous trees were planted by farmers within and outside of the Witu protected area.
The Northern Rangelands Trust reports an increase in wildlife numbers and less human-wildlife conflict in the area.
Finally, MSP activities influenced the design of the second phase of the BMP (starting in 2021), with a proposal for transboundary management plans to safeguard border-crossing wildlife. The proposal also incorporates lessons learned through the MSP process into IGAD’s regional policies on biodiversity management.