Conflict over natural resources has increased in Kenya especially among pastoralist communities. In Garissa County, where many pastoralist communities reside, population increases are leading to higher need for water, pasture and fuel wood. These needs, coupled with the lack of an organized way of managing natural resources, have led to many incidents of conflict. Because of these difficulties, Adeso’s Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) project is working with the community to map their natural resources and agree on how to manage them. This will contribute to reducing conflict in the area.
In May 2014, the USAID-funded REGAL-IR project facilitated a two-day meeting among community elders in Maalimin, Garissa. The participants’ discussed how to map and set aside grazing zones – locally referred to as sharmat – to reduce conflict over grazing areas and provide backup pasture during dry seasons.
“At the moment, people graze as they wish, we get pastoralists from neighboring communities coming to graze here along our lagga (dry river bed). If you organize them as you are doing here, we will have less conflict,” says Mohamed Korane, an elder from a pastoralist settlement of 400 households.
Maalimin settlement itself was formed after conflict broke out in 2004 over resources in their former home in the neighboring Dujis constituency.
“We want to come up with an action plan, strict by-laws and even approach the County to gazette the reserves or even ask the Kenya Forest Service for support in protecting our trees and pasture along the dry river bed,” explained Somane Salan.
During this meeting, joint mapping of community resources was initiated. Once the wider community validates these maps, with support from REGAL-IR the community will begin setting up structures for coordinating and managing the use of their natural resources.