Bright future for Mathews Forest as USAID and AFD open new HQ and launch Community Forest Association
Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Dr. Lesiyampe, joined members of Samburu County Government and other dignitaries on the 1st September 2015 to officially open the long-awaited Ngilai Unit HQ in Namunyak Community Conservancy. The HQ, built with support from USAID, was opened alongside celebrations to mark the milestone signing of the Mathews Range Forest Management Plan; established with funding from the French Agency for Development (AFD). The day’s ceremony was also made possible by support from AFD.
Namunyak is one of NRT’s largest conservancies, at 394,000 hectares. Due to its size, it is divided up into three management units; Naluwuon, Ngilai, and Kalepo. Thanks to support from USAID, Ngilai now joins the other two units in having its own functional HQ, where management staff and ranger operations can be based. Each of the Namunyak units is run independently under the Conservancy umbrella, and has its own management staff, board, rangers and grazing committee. There is an umbrella manager and an umbrella board with representation from the unit boards.
As well as officially opening the new HQ, the day’s celebrations at Ngilai were also held to mark the launch of the Namunyak Community Forest Association (CFA), and the signing of the new Mathews Range Forest Management Plan. The CFA will work together with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to manage the Mathews Forest, once described as a ‘biological bonanza’ by the BBC, and which traditionally comes under the management of the Government of Kenya. This new co-management agreement, supported by AFD, will allow local communities to use the forest for grazing, firewood collection, bee keeping and other activities central to their livelihoods. KFS will work with the communities to ensure these activities can remain sustainable. The agreement was signed by both parties, and witnessed by Namunyak community members, management staff and the dignitaries in attendance.