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Opportunities to promote integrated planning in the drylands of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, February, 2013

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Ill-advised, uncoordinated and badly planned development interventions have contributed to the continuing poverty and food insecurity in drylands. Imposed technology-based interventions (such as those used in water interventions) have had particularly negative impacts. Dryland development interventions have often been sectoral—with development planners locked into manipulating one or two key factors without properly taking into account their interconnectedness, or the needs of dryland communities. Planning for development in the drylands faces unique challenges, including the sheer size of administrative units with sparsely distributed populations, and spatially variable resources. Planners must also confront the challenge of managing high-and low-potential areas that are functionally interdependent, and the seasonal dynamics of drylands systems. Integrated development planning offers an opportunity to address these challenges.

Drylands are increasingly being seen as potential locations for expanding agricultural production to meet growing global food demands. They are being recast as “frontier” regions, rather than peripheries, emphasising their positive potential for development as “lands of opportunity”. The dryland areas of the Horn of Africa have a major comparative advantage over non-dryland areas in livestock, tourism, and renewable energy. They are also often strategically located as the bridgehead to new markets beyond country borders. However, if these opportunities are to be fully realised their planning needs to fully account for, and incorporate, their linkages with the entire drylands ecosystem and the communities that live there. Planning in the drylands must urgently consider land tenure security and its enforcement, and the building of the resilience of drylands ecosystems and communities. The new drylands and ASAL-focused bodies and platforms promise better and more appropriate support. The governance of the landscape as a whole needs to be coherent and robust, ideally a nested system that provides an institutional framework for access and use across different scales.

This brief is an edited extract of the report ‘Plotting Progress: Integrated Planning in the Drylands of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda', which responds to the many issues and challenges of integrated development planning. The extensive report draws together and reviews current and recent experience in planning processes in the drylands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The components of ‘good’ integrated planning, and their strengths and weaknesses are discussed, and extensive case studies inform the discussion. Opportunities and principles for future interventions and support are highlighted and provide the foundation for a series of recommendations for Governments, NGOs and donors.