Northern Rangelands Trust Support

Funding Level:
US $7 million

December 2008 – June 2015

Activity Goals:

  • Improve security for people and wildlife
  • Increase trade and tourism
  • Preserve and increase biodiversity
  • Create opportunities for women and girls

Activity Accomplishments:

  • Community conservancies have improved the lives and livelihoods of more than 280,000 people
  • Community conservancies have secured peace and natural resources across the rangelands in nine counties
  • The conservancy approach has attracted millions of dollars of private sector eco-tourism investments that directly benefit these communities
  • The Northern Rangelands Trust conservancies earn more than $1 million annually from wildlife tourism, livestock investments, and women-owned bead craft enterprises
  • Expanded infrastructure development within conservancies – airstrips, roads, schools, hospitals, and water points
  • Conservancy earnings invested to benefit thousands of students

Implementing Partner:

LEWA Wildlife Conservancy

Key Partners:
Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service

Activity Locations:
Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo, Meru, Garissa, Lamu and Tana River Counties

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 27 community owned and managed conservancies covering over 25,000 sq kms.  The Trust works to improve the lives and livelihoods of over 280,000 residents spread over nine counties in one of Kenya’s major wildlife migration corridors. The largely pastoralist communities learn and practice wildlife conservation, natural resources management, and non-violent conflict resolution. They also develop tourism and nature-based enterprises to preserve the northern rangelands and improve their livelihoods.

The Northern Rangelands Trust community development model is driven by each particular community’s needs and aspirations. The 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. Northern Rangelands Trust 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 millions of dollars in private sector investment in ecotourism.

Provide Security
One of the functions of a community conservancy is to institute security operations that provide stability for 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. 

On November 16, 2013, USAID Director Karen Freeman visited the Lewa and Kalama Community Conservancies to hand over two vehicles for the Northern Rangelands Trust.

USAID has supported the Northern Rangelands Trust since 2004, investing US $7 million dollars in its work to improve livestock and water management, facilitate private investment and ecotourism, improve lives and livelihoods for pastoralist communities through income diversification and conflict resolution between groups, and reduction of human/wildlife conflict. The Northern Rangelands Trust conservancies earn more than US $1 million annually from wildlife tourism, livestock investments, and women-owned bead craft enterprises. Moreover, the intelligence work of more than 600 trained and armed community rangers linked to the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Police Service have significantly contributed to reduced banditry, cattle rustling and conflict in conservancy areas.

In 2013, NRT recorded a 22 percent reduction in elephant poaching on conservancy lands as compared with 2012. This is despite the continued demand for ivory and the presence of illicit ivory trafficking networks.

Still, wildlife poaching remains a serious problem.

The community conservancy model is making a real contribution to the fight against poaching, while simultaneously protecting Kenya’s valuable biodiversity and tourism sector.


USAID Contact:
Beatrice Wamalwa, Activity Manager
Office of Agriculture, Business and Environment
Tel:  +254 0721 371357

Northern Rangelands Trust Contact:
Elodie Sampere, Head of Conservation Marketing
Northern Rangeland Trust
Tel: + 254 (0) 20 203 3244
Mobile: + 254 (0) 727 341 612


LEWA Wildlife Forum, Ltd.


Updated September 2014

Last updated: November 04, 2014

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