NRT has moved from “proof-of-concept” to operational scale, with 33 conservancies across 10.8 million acres of northern Kenya. Security, livelihoods and conditions for wildlife are all improving as a more resilient social, economic and ecological landscape is evolving. County Governments are now responding to demands from communities, and have plans to support up to 29 new community conservancies in Samburu (3), Marsabit (10), Laikipia (6), Isiolo (8), and Wajir (2). With these plans, we can realistically expect there to be at least 50 NRT and County Government conservancies by 2020 in northern Kenya.
NRT provides significant support to communities in sectors where support can now be expected from the newly devolved county governments: peace, security, livelihoods development, infrastructure, services and investment. NRT has developed good working relations with the County Governments, and Governors are keen to deepen and expand relationships with NRT and support for conservancies.
Indeed County Governments did commit $120,000 to conservancies in 2014, and plan to increase this to $1.4m (Samburu KSh 95m, Isiolo Ksh 5m and Marsabit Ksh 20m) in 2015. With a projected increase in County Government supported community conservancies, the financial contribution by 2020 could be $2.2m per year – estimated from full funding of 17 new conservancies and a 50% cost-share on existing conservancies. This presumes that NRT and the Conservancies can work with County Governments to see their support covering recurrent costs such as ranger salaries and fuel, rather than just capital costs such as vehicles and buildings.
County Governments have asked NRT to assist in developing county legislation to enable support to conservancies. This will be an important part of locking in county funding, and ensuring continuity across successive administrations.
A key instrument of engagement between NRT conservancies and county government will be the new Conservancy Management and Community Development Plans, which are starting to link with the County Integrated Development Plans, to define community-led funding priorities for the counties. NRT will engage more closely with the county budgeting process, including the Ward Administrators and ward-level planning processes. The elected ward-level Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) already sit as ex officio members of the conservancy boards, so the links to the ward budgets and plans can be reinforced.
There may also be options for central Government support to the conservancies, given the important role they play in peace, livelihoods and conservation. KWS has historically given in-kind support to ranger training and uniforms. There may be other special funds developed in future, such as the Equalization Fund and a Global Adaptation Fund.