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Kenya Ranger at Ivory Burning
On April 30, 2016, Kenya burned 105 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horns, the largest such burn to date. USAID is working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to respond to these threats and scale up Kenya’s efforts to combat wildlife crime.
Eric Onyiego / USAID Kenya and East Africa


USAID is advancing Kenya’s sustainable growth by supporting community-based natural resource management, improving ecosystem resilience, and building capacity to implement a low emissions and climate resilient development strategy.

Kenya’s natural heritage is globally recognized for its rich biodiversity and iconic landscapes.  Kenya’s economy and people’s livelihoods are highly dependent on these natural resources and nature-based tourism, sectors that are extremely vulnerable to climate change.  The arid and semi-arid lands account for 80 percent of the country’s land area and climate variability has led to significant economic losses and increased food insecurity. Other external factors such as wildlife crime, urban expansion, and population growth are threatening conservation efforts in Kenya.

USAID addresses these development challenges through the promotion of community-based natural resource management in biodiversity hotspots across Kenya and by working directly with the Government of Kenya (GOK) to promote low emission and climate resilient development. With over 60 percent of Kenya’s wildlife ranging outside state-protected areas, sustainable management of community and private lands has proved vital to protecting and conserving Kenya’s natural heritage.


Counter Wildlife Trafficking

USAID pioneered the community conservancy model in Kenya, a widely recognized approach to conservation that protects wildlife outside state-protected areas, expands economic opportunities for conservancy communities, and enhances resilience in the ability of people and landscapes to withstand climate variability and shocks. The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), which was founded with USAID support in 2004, has reduced elephant poaching by 53 percent since 2012 and has improved the livelihoods of more than 550,000 Kenyans spread over eleven counties.  In 2015, USAID committed to scaling up support for community conservancies in critical wildlife corridors in northern Kenya, Amboseli, Tsavo and the Masai Mara region.

USAID works with partners to support wildlife management and address wildlife trafficking, including the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to enhance wildlife management and the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes; the U.S. Department of the Interior to coordinate efforts to address wildlife trafficking in the region, including technical assistance and training on wildlife protection, law enforcement and prosecution; IUCN/TRAFFIC to identify priority actions for KWS and other stakeholders in the fight to combat wildlife crime; and the U.S. National Academies of Science and the U.S. Global Development Lab to support research grants for Kenyan scientists to explore innovative, multi-disciplinary ways to strengthen wildlife management and the prosecution of wildlife crimes in Kenya.

Biodiversity Conservation

Given the current threats to Kenya's significant biological diversity, Kenya is one of only three bilateral programs in Africa designated as a Tier 1 biodiversity country under USAID’s Biodiversity Policy. USAID’s ongoing support for community conservancies is reversing ecosystem degradation and building resilient ecosystems through more effective community-based planning, management, and monitoring of natural resources. In 2015, NRT initiated the implementation of community grazing plans and rehabilitating degraded areas to restore rangeland biodiversity.  In partnership with the International Development Law Organization, USAID is also continuing to work on national-level issues critical to Kenya’s biodiversity conservation goals by supporting the ongoing devolution of natural resources management to county governments.

Clean Energy and Climate Change Adaptation

Transitioning to a low emissions economy is a key component of Kenya’s Vision 2030. USAID seeks to strengthen key institutional and policy frameworks at the national and county level and enhance Kenya’s ability to withstand economic losses caused by climate change. Kenya is a flagship country for the U.S. Government’s Enhancing Capacity for Low Emissions Development Strategies (EC-LEDS), a program designed to accelerate sustainable, climate-resilient economic growth while slowing greenhouse gas emissions. USAID is working with the GOK to implement the National Climate Change Action Plan that charts a low-carbon climate-resilient development pathway and meets significant milestones for Kenya’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Our work with NRT is developing community resilience strategies and increasing access to climate information and decision-making tools.  USAID is also supporting a climate change vulnerability assessment and ecosystem monitoring of priority water towers (i.e., water sheds) to provide clear, accessible data that inform GOK resource management decisions and adaptation strategies.


Fact Sheet: Environment

Environment Activity Fact Sheets

Countering Wildlife Crime

USAID and Department of Interior Inter-agency Agreement to Support Wildlife Conservation and Combat Wildlife Crime

Community Conservancies Seed Grant Program in Maasai Mara
The Nature Conservancy and Maasai Mara Conservation Association

Community Conservancy Policy Support and Implementation Program
The Nature Conservancy and Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Association

Kenya Wildlife Protection and Conservation Program
Kenya Wildlife Service

Local Communities - First Line of Defense Against Illegal Wildlife Trade
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Resilient Community Conservancies Program
Northern Rangelands Trust


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Last updated: November 08, 2017

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