What is the Northern Rangelands Trust?
The Northern Rangelands Trust is an umbrella organization formed in 2004 by the Lewa Conservancy and USAID. It brings together local pastoralist communities with land owners and the Government of Kenya to promote the long-term conservation of wildlife in Kenya’s northern rangelands. At present, Northern Rangelands Trust oversees 19 community owned and managed conservancies covering over 3 million acres. The Trust works to improve the lives and livelihoods of over 200,000 residents spread over seven counties in one of Kenya’s major wildlife migration routes. The largely pastoralist communities learn and practice wildlife conservation, natural resources management, and non-violent conflict resolution. In addition, they develop tourism and nature-based enterprises to preserve the northern rangelands and improve their livelihoods.
Project Duration and Budget
December 2008 – June 2014
Who implements Northern Rangelands Trust?
Where does Northern Rangelands Trust work?
Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo, Pokot, and Tana River Counties
What does Northern Rangelands Trust do?
The Northern Rangelands Trust community development model is truly community-led. The goals of each community conservancy are driven by each particular community’s needs and aspirations. The Northern Rangelands Trust model builds capacity in governance, financial management and security, which promotes independence and long-term sustainability.
Wildlife and Environmental Management
Northern Rangelands Trust assists the community conservancies to design and implement community conservation programs, improve rangelands conditions and improve livestock and water management programs. This includes building community capacity to resolve resource-based conflicts and improve natural resource governance. The Northern Rangelands Trust program assists the Kenya Wildlife Service with the immense task of conserving and managing Kenya’s abundant wildlife, 60% of which exists outside of KWS-managed and protected areas.
Improve and Diversify Income
Northern Rangelands Trust promotes diversification of income base through ecotourism and nature-based enterprises to improve livelihoods and increase economic benefit for Northern Rangelands pastoralist communities. To date, community conservancies have attracted over $1 million in private sector investment in ecotourism.
One of the functions of a Community Conservancy is to institute security operations to provide stability to wildlife, residents and visitors to the area. Conservancy security teams are hired from the communities in which they serve and are networked and closely linked to Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Police.
How is NRT making a difference?
Improved Security for People and Wildlife
Security for people, livestock and wildlife has significantly improved due to regular peace meetings between multi-ethnic board members of neighboring conservancies. Northern Rangelands Trust’s conflict resolution team, comprised of ten tribal elders known for their skills in conflict resolution, has played an important role in creating the conditions for peace. In addition, the intelligence work of more than 400 trained and armed community rangers with radio communication networks linked to the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya police service have significantly contributed to reduced banditry, cattle rustling and conflict in conservancy areas.
Increased Trade and Tourism
By mid-2012, Northern Rangelands Trust had facilitated livestock trade for 1,800 households in 11 community conservancies valued at US$1.17 million by linking pastoralists to high value markets. Support from Northern Rangelands Trust helps conservancies to develop long-term agreements with tourism investors and promote tourism in northern Kenya. Conservation levies and bed-night fees generated over $425,000 in 2012 alone. Tourism revenues pay for ranger’s salaries, educational bursaries, improved water points and other ventures identified as priorities by conservancy members.
As a result of improved conservation, the area of land with significant biodiversity and endangered wildlife species increased from 5,400 square kilometers in 2008 to 16,000 square kilometers in 2011. For instance, in Sera conservancy, a 366% increase in elephant sightings was recorded between 2006 and 2011.
More opportunities for women and girls
Women and girls are now in senior leadership positions as chair persons and members of conservancy boards. Women hold more than 30% of board membership in most conservancies and they are now serving as conservancy managers having gone through successful competitive hiring processes. Over 40% of children benefiting from education scholarships are girls.
What key challenges does NRT face?
The long-term conservation of wildlife in Kenya’s northern rangelands is inextricably linked to the fate of the local pastoralist communities. Yet these communities are politically and economically marginalized, and opportunities for economic growth have been hindered by insecurity and by longstanding ethnic rivalries in the region. Poaching is on the rise at an alarming level in Kenya. The conservancy rangers reported that 135 elephant carcasses were found within or adjacent to the community conservancies during 2012, compared with 101 in 2011, and 67 in 2010.
For more information:
Elodie Sampere, Head of Conservation Marketing
Northern Rangeland Trust
Tel: + 254 (0) 20 203 3244
Mobile: + 254 (0) 727 341 612
Beatrice Wamalwa, Activity Manager
Office of Agriculture, Business and Environment
Tel: +254 0721 371357
Updated September 2013
Last updated: October 11, 2013