Sessional Paper No 12 on National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands ‘Releasing Our Full Potential’


Popularly known as the ASAL Policy and with the clarion call "Releasing our Full Potential", the title of this policy is a deliberate echo of the influential Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965, which perpetuated the biased distribution of public investment established under colonial rule. Resources were directed towards the so-called ‘high potential’ areas of crop production, overlooking the wealth of lowland livestock-based economies and creating the deep inequalities in human development which we see in Kenya today.

This paper does not duplicate national policies with universal relevance across Kenya. Rather, it addresses three distinct policy challenges which are particular to Northern Kenya and other arid lands: first, how to close the developmental gap between Northern Kenya and the rest of the country, which is a product of its historical experience, and in so doing strengthen national cohesion; second, how to protect and promote the mobility and institutional arrangements which are so essential to productive pastoralism; and third, how to ensure food and nutrition security across the arid and semi-arid lands, where unpredictability is certain to increase as the impact of climate change deepens.