Community conservation is a significant and growing movement in northern Kenya, and shows no sign of slowing down. The number of NRT member conservancies has tripled in just eight years. These conservancies now span nine counties, 31,000 square kilometres, and reach from the Indian Ocean to Great Rift Valley.
Initially, many of the community conservancies emerged in the Isiolo, Samburu, and Laikipia districts, in north central Kenya. 2007 saw the first expansion of NRT to the Kenyan coast with the establishment of Ishaqbini Community Conservancy. Six more followed suit, and in 2014, a satellite NRT headquarters was set up in the ancient port of Lamu, to more effectively support the growing number of coastal conservancies.
NRT-Coast now supports Ishaqbini, Ndera, Lower Tana Delta Conservation Trust, Hanashak-Nyogoro, Pate, Awer and Kiunga Conservancies. Livelihoods and climatic challenges at the coast differ from those of the inland conservancies – but what the communities do have in common is the strong desire to improve their lives through better natural resource management, and wildlife conservation.
2014 saw an official memorandum of understanding signed between NRT and NRT-Coast. Alongside this, NRT-Coast re-evaluated its leadership requirements to meet current and emerging challenges, and to sufficiently meet the needs of the coastal conservancies. A number of changes to the NRT-Coast senior management team were made, and Isa Gedi, formerly a senior field coordinator has now taken over as acting Chief Programmes Officer. Other achievements included:
- Successful Board election in Ndera Conservancy
- More engagement with County Governments to provide support to the conservancies – Ishaqbini hosted the Garissa Governor and Senator, and Lower Tana Delta and Ndera met the Tana River Governor.
- Peace building and conflict resolution meetings were held in Lower Tana Delta.
- Ishaqbini and Ndera created Conservancy Constitutions, and Pate created eight by-laws with regards to fishing.
- A conflict resolution sub-committee was created in Pate.
- Ishaqbini and Ndera held meetings on wildlife security and anti-poaching measures.
A feasibility study was conducted on the Pate-Kiunga fisheries value chain, and a business plan for the Pate-Kiunga ‘fish-to-market’ concept was completed. This will be similar to the livestock to market programme currently ongoing in several inland conservancies – and aims to give fisherman incentives to implement sustainable fishing plans.
The commercial development of a mango processing project started its pilot phase, this aims to diversify income for communities currently reliant on unsustainable natural resources.
NRT-Coast lobbied for the Awer and Pate Conservancies’ participation in the LAPSSET working group for Lamu County. LAPSSET is the Lamu Port – South Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor, and will involve the building of new roads, rail lines and pipelines.
A fish catch data monitoring program was initiated in Pate – run by scouts and BMUS in collaboration with State Department of Fisheries (SDF).
A biodiversity assessment of fish, coral reefs and mangrove forests was conducted in Pate and Kiunga. This was initiated to support monitoring, conservation and management decisions in the conservancies.
A lobster fishery stock assessment for the Pate-Kiunga area is ongoing in collaboration with KMFRI, WWF, SDF, TNC, and local universities.
Phase 1 of ‘Marine – CoMMs’ introduced in Pate. Conservancy Management Monitoring System is a simple database pioneered by NRT. It’s purpose is to provide a platform where conservancy rangers can easily and efficiently upload data gathered while out on duty – about wildlife movements, populations, and trends.
Hirola populations in the Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary increased by 70% from 48 in 2012 to 82.
Anti-poaching efforts increased in Ndera, Ishaqbini and Pate. Significant progress was made in combating the illegal logging of mangroves in Pate Island with two culprits taken to court and several others reported to the Kenya Forest Service and taken to police custody.