The Road to Prosperity — EU Grants Infrastructural Equipment to Community Conservancies


On the 15th March 2019, the European Union (EU) handed over a road maintenance unit to NRT member community conservancies, for the development of roads and airstrips that will boost tourism, security, the local economy and livelihoods. 

Poor infrastructure is a barrier to socioeconomic development in many parts of northern Kenya. Without good road networks many remote communities struggle to access healthcare in emergencies, or get their goods to market. Faced with hours of travel on bad roads, many tourists would prefer to fly to safari camps and lodges in the north, but destinations are limited to those few with good airstrips.

The sophisticated new infrastructure unit comprises of a tractor, grader, backhoe, fully operating state-of-the-art workshop trailer with a 10,000 litre water tank and a functional drilling machine. It is set to build 21 new airstrips in conservancies, and grade and improve many more roads.

“There is a very high potential for tourism in the region but accessibility has been a huge challenge,” said EU Head of Delegation Hubert Perr.

The equipment is part of the 3.5 million euro ‘Community Policing Initiative (CPI)’, in which the EU has partnered with NRT to help combat wildlife crime and enhance livelihood development.

“NRT’s mission is to develop resilient community conservancies that transform lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources; we are working with rural communities in building sustainable economies lined to conservation and improve their livelihoods across the landscape,” said NRT’s CEO Tom Lalampaa.

The equipment will be shared across the 39 conservancies in Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia among other regions supported by the Northern Rangelands Trust.

Last year, there was a 31% increase in revenues from tourism to community conservancies. Alongside this, the proportion of elephants illegally killed in conservancies is reducing, from a high of 77% in 2012, to 38% in 2018, showing that human and wildlife security is inextricably linked to livelihoods and revenue earnings.

“Northern Kenya is a gem that is waiting to be discovered. In addressing the underlying issues that have hampered our development, and working with partner like the European Union and NRT is critical in helping us achieve our national and county aspirations,” added Tom Lalampaa.

Sophie Harrison