“If we are to succeed in protecting the wildlife of Kenya, the wildlife of the world, we all must work together” said US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec in a speech he made on World Wildlife Day – Tuesday 3rd March 2016.
He went on to announce a significant increase in US support to Kenyan conservation efforts. This includes a US$ 20 million grant to the Northern Rangelands Trust, awarded in October 2015. Godec added that this was “a mark of the extraordinary importance of Kenya to conservation and the work that so many of you are doing.”
With high profile visits to Kenya from US President Barak Obama in July 2015, and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell earlier this year, the USA has publicly declared its support for Kenya in the war on wildlife crime. This is on top of their US$ 670 million-a-year aid budget for Kenya, which is improving access to healthcare and education, and laying a foundation for long-term economic growth through trade, agriculture, and infrastructure programmes.
The grant to NRT, awarded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will not only support our work in wildlife conservation, but also in governance, livelihoods, peace, enterprise and rangeland management. It will also fund seven strategic partnerships, with Rural Focus (water), 51 Degrees (security), Laikipia Wildlife Forum (rangelands), Samburu Girls Foundation (gender), Africa Parks (National Reserve management) and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (rangelands). Although this gives NRT and member conservancies a huge boost, it does not fully cover all operational needs, and we must continue to raise the resources needed to achieve the impacts on livelihoods, peace and conservation that we seek.
NRT has grown considerably in the past 6 years; from just 15 conservancies in 2009, to 33 at the end of 2015. The USAID grant gives us invaluable support for a sustained programme. It allows us to part-fund new conservancies in partnership with county governments. It also allows us to build up our long-term sustainability plan – which includes expanding government support, reducing reliance on annual donor funding, increasing commercial revenues, and creating a Conservation Trust Fund. The grant adds to our diverse portfolio of support from the Danish and French governments (DANIDA and AFD), The Nature Conservancy, Tullow Oil and many other smaller donors.
NRT is grateful for the sustained and long-term vision from USAID in supporting our work, recognising that transformational conservation and development change takes a long time, and cannot be achieved in a three to five year project period. USAID was instrumental in helping to establish NRT in the early days, and has provided consistent support ever since.