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photo of grey zebras in the wild
In Kenya, community conservancies in the Northern Rangelands Trust have successfully reintroduced endangered species such as Grevy’s Zebra into the wild.


The East African region is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife and ecosystems on the continent. It is also home to rapidly growing human populations, particularly in the Lake Victoria Basin. The combination of rising development, wildlife crime, and weak regulatory frameworks has put severe strain on East African natural resources, threatening regional biodiversity, the livelihoods of local communities, and long-term development. USAID/Kenya and East Africa is working to improve regional policies and strategies to strengthen sustainable natural resource management and adaptation to climate change. Key to this approach is strengthening the capacity of regional intergovernmental mechanisms to take the lead in counter-wildlife trafficking, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and water and sanitation.


Counter-Wildlife Trafficking – Poaching and wildlife trafficking in East Africa are at critical levels, part of a global tide of wildlife crime that generates $7-10 billion each year. In response to this trans-boundary threat, USAID is taking decisive action to reduce wildlife crime in the region. USAID is supporting the East African Community to develop a regional strategy to combat wildlife trafficking, and to harmonize and adopt effective policies, laws, and strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife resources in the region. USAID’s new, five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior will help coordinate efforts to address wildlife trafficking in the region, including providing opportunities for government counterparts to cooperate on training and enforcement. USAID works with national wildlife conservation agencies to use advanced technologies (such as forensics and digital tracking) in combatting wildlife trafficking, such as the SMART app, an application for mobile devices to improve real time data collection of poaching incidents in the field.

Biodiversity Conservation – The Lake Victoria Basin contains about 30% of the entire population of East Africa and supports one of the largest freshwater fisheries in the world. Its terrestrial ecosystems are world-renowned for their rich biodiversity and critically important for sustaining wildlife populations in the region. USAID is helping to conserve and sustainably manage these resources by supporting the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) to develop an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) framework. Other project activities include enhancing ecosystem conservation in Rwanda, supporting better land-use planning in Burundi, and providing assistance to implement a trans-boundary agreement between Kenya and Tanzania to manage the Mara river basin ecosystem.

Climate Change Adaptation – Climate change threatens the adaptive capacity and sustainability of trans-boundary ecosystems and communities across the East African region. USAID’s Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED) project is a five-year $40 million program (2012-2016) designed to mainstream climate-resilient development programming into the EAC and its Partner States. Working closely with the EAC Secretariat and the LVBC, PREPARED is being implemented in Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. USAID is also working through regional partners to systematically incorporate climate science and analysis into development planning.

Water Supply, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) – Access to basic WASH services in East Africa is low. The challenges are especially great in the rapidly growing but largely unplanned smaller towns around Lake Victoria, which generally have lower-than-average service levels. The PREPARED project provides institutional support to the LVBC, local governments, and water and sanitation service providers to improve service delivery, build capacity for operational and financial management, and mainstream climate change considerations throughout the full spectrum of WASH services. PREPARED support to the LVBC’s IWRM framework will also help its partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) to create a coordinated platform for compiling, managing, and sharing information to guide decision-making at the basin and sub-basin level.

Science & Technology – USAID is in the process of developing a regional Climate Information Network (CIN) to link climate information users and service providers. To enable the CIN to be effective in responding to stakeholder demands, USAID is helping to pilot innovative climate change applications for hand-held devices in key sectors. USAID/East Africa has also proposed an Anti-Poaching Partnership that will engage government, NGOs, and the private sector to leverage information technology solutions and tools for improved coordination, deterrence, and public awareness-raising that will strengthen regional anti-poaching efforts.

Gender Equality – USAID continues to focus its activities on gender issues in line with USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. The PREPARED project Gender Strategy and Action Plan ensures that gender dimensions and issues are taken into consideration across all project activities, including climate change adaptation, agricultural development, and WASH. PREPARED is also helping national and regional partners to report on gender-disaggregated data for the African Union Comprehensive Agriculture Development Program, and provide training and mentoring to empower women leaders in the program.

Last updated: March 03, 2017

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