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USAID’s environment and natural resource management program supports sustainable growth in three key sectors of the economy—tourism, forestry and agriculture—as well as through the Global Climate Change initiative, which supports adaptation, mitigation, and clean and renewable energy.
Renowned for world-class scenery and wildlife, Kenya’s natural resources are an important part of its economy. Tourism, for which the major draw is wildlife, contributes up to 12 percent of the country’s GDP. At the same time, up to 75 percent of Kenyans work at least part-time in farming or pastoralism and are dependent on well-managed natural resources, particularly stable water catchment areas.
To promote conservation and livelihoods in wildlife-rich areas, USAID helps rural communities improve biodiversity management through nature conservancies, eco-tourism and other environment-friendly enterprises. USAID collaborates with the Government of Kenya, internationally and nationally renowned NGOs, and community-based organizations to maintain wildlife migration corridors and dispersion areas. USAID also works with the Kenya Wildlife Service, particularly to improve its revenue collection system and in the decentralization of wildlife management operations.
USAID works with the Government of Kenya to protect its valuable forests and promote sustainable land use by building the capacity of national organizations such as the Kenya Forest Service and the Government Task Force on the Conservation of the Mau Forest Complex. Other forestry initiatives include farm-forestry, carbon financing, support for Kenya’s initiatives in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), reforestation of water catchments and forest-based tourism.
Land Tenure and Property Rights
Contested, illegal or irregular land allocations have contributed to violent clashes and political instability for many years, but most noticeably in 1992, 1997, 2007 and 2008. USAID works with the Government of Kenya to grapple with sensitive land-related issues as the country emerges from post-election conflict and takes steps to address its root causes.
USAID has supported the National Land Policy Formulation Process since 2004. In the spring 2008, USAID undertook reviews of the draft policy and assessed the influence of land tenure on biodiversity conservation, natural resource-based enterprise and agricultural productivity and minority rights of women and youth. Findings and recommendations from those studies have informed the Agency's initiatives in land reform that address underlying causes of instability and which have near-term “visibility” or impact on Kenya’s current transition from crisis.
USAID supports small holders and subsistence farmers to plant trees to improve their livelihoods and at the same time address local, regional and global environmental issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. Farmers improve their livelihoods by securing economic benefits from carbon sequestration, with sustainable woodlots, by increasing crop yields through conservation farming and from sustainable and efficient use of wood fuel. As an incentive to plant trees and maintain tree cover, USAID pays farmers a small stipend in recognition of the environmental benefits: reducing pressure on natural forests, stabilizing streamside areas and reducing erosion. At the same time, the market continues to develop for carbon captured through forest management and improved land management.
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Last updated: November 05, 2015