Innovative One Health Approaches Enhance Rangeland Health in Kenya – Findings from a stakeholders’ forum

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The CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate is actively contributing to rangeland health through innovative One Health approaches that call for a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach. This initiative is spearheaded by the Swiss Development Cooperation funded One Health for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods (HEAL) project where ILRI partners with Vétérinaires sans Frontiéres and the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref). ILRI is also connected with the One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa (OHRECA) and the CGIAR Research Initiative on One Health.  

To advance these efforts, ILRI Research Officer, Irene Nganga, participated in a two-day scoping and co-design workshop within the framework of the Central Highlands Ecoregion Foodscape (CHEF), an initiative of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). CHEF aims to develop incentives and initiatives that foster land health, water resources management and biodiversity in food systems against the backdrop of climate change, environmental degradation, and rural poverty. 

Rangeland health is crucial, defined by the balance and sustainability of soil , vegetation, water, and air, along with the ecological processes within the rangeland ecosystem, are balanced and sustained. The three ecosystem attributes that are assessed to determine rangeland health include soil and site stability, hydrologic function, and biotic integrity. The HEAL projects employs a holistic One Health approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of livestock, ecosystems, and human communities.  Recognizing rangeland health as a vital part of One Health, the Participatory Rangeland Management (PRM) approach is now integrated into the program, specifically tailored for pastoral areas in developing countries.   

During the workshop, stakeholders delved into the status, drivers and constraints of effective rangeland management and health across the Mt Kenya-Ewaso Ngiro landscape, spanning many counties.  The discussion focused on land health, use and management in the CHEF region counties, identifying priorities that will shape the implementation program with contextually differentiated pathways for rangeland restoration. A landscape approach emerged as crucial, managing natural resources from water tower counties to high rainfall areas, involving smallholder farmers and extending to semi-arid rangelands, and finally to extensive livestock production systems dominant counties. These are all areas in which the HEAL project operates. 

The workshop identified trends and dynamics across uplands and the rangelands, involving an intersectoral and interspatial team of experts. The outcomes will inform the development of a Rangelands Health Strategy for the region, furthering Livestock and Climate’s commitment to enhancing overall resilience and sustainability of rangeland ecosystems. As the program continues its work, these collaborative efforts are set to make a lasting impact on the health and vitality of Kenya’s diverse landscapes.   

Header image: Kenya’s wildlife-rich rangelands with cattle and wildlife. Photo by  D.Elsworth/ILRI.

Story by Irene Nganga.

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