Location: Basuba Location, Kiunga Division, Lamu County
Postal address: C/O NCC PO Box 450, 80500 Lamu
Manager: Rufi Ali
Contact: E: rufiazani@gmail.com T: 0724 920 209
Ethnicity: Boni
Population: 4,500
Land Ownership: Community Land
Core Conservation Area: TBC
Main Livelihood: Farming, honey gathering
Key Wildlife Species: Elephant, topi, buffalo, hippo, lion, African wild dog
Year of Registration: 2013
Staff Employed from the Community: 15
Annual Operating Budget: US$ 60,000

Background

Awer community conservancy was initially part of the Kibodo Trust; a community conservation initiative that encompasses the Kiunga Marine Reserve, and the Boni and Dodori Forest Reserves. The communities in Awer decided to form their own independent conservancy in 2013, and made an application to NRT – Coast.

NRT-Coast is a satellite NRT support centre with a headquarters in Lamu. Its focus is solely on the priorities of the 6 coastal NRT conservancies, who face different challenges than their inland cousins.

The People

The Awer area is home to the Boni people; often described as the ‘forgotten people’ of Kenya. Historically, the Boni are semi-nomadic forest dwellers, whose livelihoods have depended on the wood, meat, honey, herbal medicines and fertile soil of the Awer and Dodori forests for hundreds of years. However in recent years, marginalisation of the community and destruction of large portions of their forest home has left the Boni struggling to come to terms with a new identity; trying to forge new livelihoods in a very different world. Populations of the Boni community have dwindled, and many are faced with extreme poverty and no access to medical care or education. By becoming an NRT member conservancy, the communities of Awer can look forward to a more sustainable future. The conservancy board has been democratically elected, and members have been trained in good governance practices and financial accountability. The focus of the conservancy in the coming years will be to improve infrastructure and security, and to sustainably manage their natural resources to benefit both the community and the wildlife.

Ecosystem

The Awer Community Conservancy is critically located between the Dodori and Boni Forest reserves. These once vast areas of indigenous, open canopy coastal forest host a diverse range of vegetation and wildlife, many species of which are classified as endangered. Elephant, hippo, bushpig, warthog, buffalo, lion, wild dog, caracal, several species of antelope, and numerous bird species can be found here. Increasingly, vast areas of the forest are being cleared for timber, agriculture and human settlement – leaving open spaces prone to erosion, and severely impacting local wildlife. Illegal poaching is also a problem here, and is part of a wider insecurity issue that has plagued the area for years.

One of the conservancies’ strongest weapons against illegal activity and habitat destruction will be its 14 rangers. Employed from the local community, the rangers already have a detailed knowledge of the area they call home, and have now been trained in field craft, wildlife monitoring and conflict resolution. They will be essential to establishing security for the wildlife in Awer, and in raising awareness within the local communities.

Visiting Awer

Being a relatively new NRT conservancy, the communities in Awer are concentrating on improving security operations, infrastructure development and sustainably managing their precious natural resources. This area holds such a unique diversity of wildlife and culture, that there is no reason it will not be able to generate income through successful eco-tourism ventures in the future.

The Future

With assistance from NRT and partner organizations, Awer aims to achieve the following in the coming years:

  • To convene, along with all other NRT community conservancies, in annual general meetings to share plans and progress
  • To take part in a livelihood baseline survey, commissioned by NRT, with a view of determining the status and priority of education, health, water, jobs, food security, infrastructure and current availability of government services
  • To continue the strengthening of wildlife security and monitoring within the conservancy
  • To sign a partnership memorandum of understanding, along with all other community conservancies, between themselves and NRT
  • To register as not-for-profit
  • To develop a conservancy management plan endorsed by the constituent community in Awer