Conservation: USAID in Kenya

Conservation: USAID in Kenya


The assistance from USAID, it came in at the
time when we really needed it. The Kenyan government had difficult challenges
with donors, one program that never suffered was our partnership with USAID. We owe much gratitude to those Americans who
had the vision and who worked with our own politicians to make that lift possible. Forever USAID should live and grow and multiply. This film is, really marks the celebration,
it marks 50 years of partnership between Kenya and the United States, and I hope that this
film will show a couple of different things- a variety of programs and activities that
have occurred over the last 50 years and the impact that they have had on Kenya, on the
Kenyan people. Pamoja tutafaulu-together we will succeed. Kenya’s northern rangelands, a land of little
water stretching across four provinces, one of Kenya’s major wildlife corridors, home
to pastoralist herders. In 2004, USAID, an ecotourism pioneer in Kenya,
began to invest in this region. It helped create and support the Northern Rangelands
Trust, an umbrella organization that oversees local conservancies owned and managed by the
local communities. NRT is now a community conservation model. Ian Craig is NRT’s Chief Executive officer. The conservancies are not just for saving
animals, they are about caring for people; and USAID have seen that bridge and the sort
of connection between the two. Five years ago, NRT had five conservancies.
Since then — USAID has invested 3.2 million dollars. There are now 18 conservancies, three
million acres and 100,000 people under the NRT and the waiting list is long. Tom Lalampaa is a Samburu. He grew up in Westgate,
one of the first community conservancies to join NRT. Before the conservancy initiative, communities
are encroaching into wildlife abject areas, blocking wildlife movement, poaching is really
rampant-very high. NRT’s unique role: to build capacity, to ensure
financial transparency, to improve local security for both pastoralists and tourists. My name is Stephen Lenantoiye. Welcome to
West gate. Feel free, feel at home. The Samburu in West Gate have tangibly benefitted
from this innovative style of conservation. It is just last year that we started seeing
giraffes coming back because they were actually wiped completely. Tom Lalampaa is the first Samburu at West
Gate to have his high school and university paid with community bursaries. It’s about improving the livelihoods of these
local communities through wildlife conservation. I have seen landscapes change, I have seen
people’s hearts change, and I have seen benefits trickling down, trickling into the communities
unlike before. NRT has spearheaded the empowerment of local
women. Microfinance loans enable women’s associations to buy beads. They make decorations, bracelets,
baskets. NRT buys them — brands them –and markets
them in zoos in the United States and around the world. Last year, NRT sold 30,000 items
— bringing 100,000 dollars back into the community. Lack of water is a major impediment to development.
USAID has funded a water system bringing water from the Uaso Nyiro River to a local village
supplying as many as 5,000 people. North of West Gate– surrounded by the towering
Mathews mountain range –is another of NRT’s most successful conservancies. Namunyak, with
1,600 people, spreads out over 850,000 acres. In the 1970s it was full of rhinoceros. By
the 1990s, poaching had wiped them out. The region sees frequent ethnic conflict centered
on water, grazing land and cattle rustling. Training and maintaining a capable security
force is critical. Without security there are no animals, without
animals there are no tourists, without tourism there is less local revenue. As in West Gate, there is only one tourist
lodge here. Sarara’s six tents nestle on the flanks of a mountain. NRT advises conservancies
not to rush into tourism lodges. It takes about four to five or even six years
or seven years before a conservancy can start thinking about tourism. They have to monitor
the wildlife properly, security has to be very good, and the governance has to be right. It has clicked here in Namunyak. Built in
2005, Sarara offers visitors one of the most unique experiences and settings in Kenya.
Three quarters of its employees are from the local community. Namunyak conservancy owns the land and the
lodge. In 2010 Namunyak earned nearly $200,000 from tourism, more than any of the other conservancies. Northern rangelands trust and the communities
in northern Kenya, we couldn’t have made it that far if it had not been for the support
of USAID. They support these initiatives including conflict resolution, getting communities to
work together, creating a fabric. In this unrelentingly arid land, success lies
in ensuring coexistence between all. Creating a place where cattle and elephant are equal,
where peace can last and where strong leadership crosses ethnic boundaries to build a better
future across generations.

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