An estimated 10 million people, owning half of
Kenya's livestock population, are directly dependent on
their fragile arid and semi-arid lands for survival.
The degradation of Kenya's drylands has led to serious environmental and socio-economic
problems. Many of these problems are exemplified in Baringo
District, covering almost 9,000 square
kilometers with a growing population of 400,000.
degradation is severe in the Baringo lowlands, with little or no vegetative cover and
diminishing biodiversity. Erratic
rainfall and high intensity storms cause heavy runoff
and flash flooding. Erosion, exacerbated by
deforestation in the foothills, is silting up Lake
Baringo, the only large source of fresh water in the area.
of diminishing communal reserves and the abuse of
limited natural resources has accelerated. A breakdown
of ‘traditional’ values further hampers people’s
ability to cope with their changed reality. Grazing
conflicts between ethnic groups has increased
insecurity, with boundaries and land tenure
policies remaining ill defined.
Reduced employment and
income generating opportunities have resulted in males
migrating to urban areas, leaving women with double the
workload. The recurring cycle of droughts and
floods has become commonplace, with poverty increasingly
and heavy run off in the
erosion of the lowlands is silting up Lake Baringo
The RAE Trust has worked closely with
agro-pastoralist communities for over two decades to
successfully develop Kenya’s dryland potential.
RAE’s multifaceted participatory programme includes four main areas of
- • The successful reclamation of degraded semi-arid land.
- • The establishment of sustainable community-based land management and
- • The improvement of livelihoods through income generating opportunities from productive grasslands, particularly those of women and their families.
- • The dissemination and transference of
knowledge based on long term research, practical
experience and effective collaboration.
reclamation: inside and outside a productive grass field
managed by women
In Baringo and elsewhere increasing numbers of local people contribute actively to the community-based solutions developed by RAE reaping multiple socio-economic benefits from their once degraded lands.
Local people and the environment benefit directly
from RAE's clear, tangible achievements, which also have
long term broader impacts.
RAE’s main empirical achievements include: over 4,000 acres of communal
and ‘private’ land successfully reclaimed; the
construction of 17 pan dams; an indigenous seed bank of
perennial grass species established with 2-4 tonnes planted annually and another 10 tonnes
kept in stock; over 440,000 tree seedlings planted, 10-50,000 produced
woman harvests mature grass seed
including indigenous aloes; a database of more
than 20 years environmental and socio-economic
information and experience, including an on-site herbarium of over 1,000 local species with ethno-botanical information;
the successful establishment of 10 diversified income
generating opportunities for both men and women, with
improved markets for field products such as grass seed,
hay, honey and fattened livestock; a Clinic providing primary and reproductive healthcare
services; hosting of over 400 visitors per year
with an on-site training programme established targeting
educational institutions, semi-pastoralist groups, youth and women;
the wide dissemination of results, and collaboration
with partnerships locally, nationally and internationally.
Heron in healthy environment
Long-term wider impacts of these achievements include: an increase in biodiversity and
biomass with long lost indigenous trees and grasses flourishing on reclaimed fields;
decreased soil erosion and siltation into Lake Baringo,
improved soil composition
and nutrients; increased semi-arid land productivity and profitability; enhanced management and
utilisation of improved land, livestock and water resources by both men and
women; decreased ethnic conflict; improved livelihoods and food security;
sustainable income generation from reclaimed areas with a shift from a ‘traditional’ livestock economy to a cash economy meeting ‘modern’
needs, such as school fees; an increase in value of once denuded wasteland, initiating community driven land ownership and
utilisation reforms that affect policy decisions; the transference of knowledge
to an ever expanding group of pastoralists in other
dryland areas, leading to a growing rate of adoption and replication of RAE initiatives
that improve the social and environmental conditions of Kenya's vast
arid and semi-arid regions.