Pastoralists Map Grazing Lands for Survival and Security in Northern Kenya

Published June 4, 2015 – by Frederick Juma

In the arid lands of northern Kenya, the migration of herders with their livestock in search of pasture often implies the onset of tough times for those who remain behind, as mothers, children and the elderly are forced to depend on wild fruits, charcoal burning and relief food from aid agencies and governments to survive. The herders who move with livestock also face the threat of cattle rustling due to competition over water and pasture.

To address some of these challenges, the USAID funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) project implemented by Adeso and its partners and funded by USAID, is supporting communities in northern Kenya to better manage their rangelands through improved land use and strengthening of customary institutional structures through a Participatory Learning Planning and Action (PLPA) approach. Areas benefiting from the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) project include Kapua and Kalotum locations in Kalakol ward, Turkana County, home to 8,000 people. With support from the project, communities have revived five traditional grazing reserves, locally known as Epaka, covering 29,500 hectares. The five reserves located in the low lying rangeland and hills are now part of controlled grazing reserves, under the leadership and management of community elders for community use for dry season grazing. Through support from this project, the communities of Kapua and Kalotum have jointly developed grazing management by-laws to regulate use of the five grazing zones.

Non-resident herders gain access with permission from the elders, and those who break the by-laws are fined or have their livestock confiscated. Ekitela Etuko, an Epaka leader in Kalotum, believes that with joint planning and continuous engagement between the neighborhoods, improved management of their grazing resources will be realized. The project has since extended the rangeland management activities to neighboring Kerio Delta and Turkwel wards, which are within the livestock migratory routes for communities that move in and out of Kapua and Kalotum. This project is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this story are the sole responsibility of Adeso and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.