Sub-theme 9. Conservation, environmental justice and the commons
Towards the transformation of semi-arid commons and pastoralist livelihoods in a complex world of competing claims
Wildlife and people co-exist in the semi-arid landscapes of northern Kenya, sharing the limited resources they all rely on to survive. These common resources include pasture and water for wildlife and the pastoralist communities (including their livestock), and arable land for a small but growing community of farmers. A growing human footprint, both from within and outside the system, and environmental uncertainties such as climate change and unpredictable rainfall patterns, have lowered the functional integrity of the semi-arid ecosystems, reducing its resilience and ability to support wildlife and the livelihoods of the people that live within it. Fragmentation is limiting movement across healthy ecosystems, threatening access to critical resources, and the traditional way of life for pastoralists. Semi-arid landscapes, and pastoral livelihoods, are often undervalued, with development policies being implemented that regard this system as inefficient. The semi-arid nature of northern Kenya, and the long history of pastoralism, means alternative economic opportunities for local people are already limited. In view of the urgently needed transformation towards sustainable development it is critical to explore how the health, and continued connectedness of these ecosystems can be maintained, despite the increasing diversity of competing claims on them. Through the introduction of concrete examples, this panel will explore existing initiatives, experiments, and ideas that contribute towards the transformation of semi-arid commons, in northern Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa.
1. Pastoralists Adaptation Strategies Under Different Land Tenure Systems, Kajiado, Kenya
1Department of Geography, Population and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya, 2Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark, 3Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Historically, rangeland pastoralists have adapted to climatic stress through livestock mobility on communally owned resources. However, contemporary pastoralists in the Southern rangelands are affected by drought recurrence and changing land tenure, resulting in reduced grazing spaces for pastoralists to adapt through livestock mobility. Based on fieldwork in the communal and subdivided rangelands of Kajiado county in Kenya, we argue that pastoralism is a non-homogeneous group; therefore, adaptation choices are dynamic and land tenure plays a key role. The main objective was to interrogate how climate change adaptation strategies among Maasai pastoralists may vary with different tenure systems and how this has evolved over 30 years. Kajiado County was purposively selected given its predominance in pastoralism and as a place where communal tenure has been fast-changing to private tenure arrangements. We used mixed-method research for data collection using household surveys (160), personal histories (20), focus group discussions (24), and key informant interviews (24). Pastoralists’ adaptations to climatic stress vary across different tenure systems resulting in a paradigm shift in ownership, entitlement, and access, shaping pastoralists’ adaptation strategies. Whereas pastoralists in communal tenure use communal pooling and livestock mobility through the intra-group ranch mobility model where livestock use conservation areas and the grazing zone, pastoralists under private tenure systems are maximizing on land privatization, fencing off their land parcels, harvesting, storing pasture, and selling their Livestock during drought periods.
Keywords: Climate change, pastoralism, adaptation, land tenure, Maasai, Kajiado.
2. Novel attempt to quantify spatially-explicit multi-dimensional metrics of a cross border semi-arid commons
1OKK Tanzania, 2University of Oxford, UK, 3Dascot, Kenya
Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania’s semi-arid rangeland landscape faces a growing suite of pressures, but still provide one of Africa’s most important expanses of rangelands for pastoralists and large wildlife. Community-led conservation efforts outside of protected areas are changing the governance of natural resources, intactness of habitats, peoples’ well-being, and conservation of wildlife in these rangelands. We used the future visions of leading local organisations to construct a framework to understand these social-ecological and institutional changes. We then compiled data from dozens of sources to provide a spatially explicit evaluation of these changes. We found that although there is reason for optimism when looking at a diversity of metrics there is still work to be done to reach desired futures expressed by local organisations. Our findings are informative at regional scales at which many local institutions operate, as well as beyond this to the large landscape scale. We stress that this first attempt at trying to incorporate social-ecological system complexity can, and should, be improved with further input, review, and improved data.
3. Creating the Rhino: Biosecurity, Breeding, and Reintroduction of Wildlife Species in Kenya
University of Michigan, USA
Charismatic megafauna such as elephants and rhinos are critical to the funding of the state in countries where a large part of the national economy is dependent upon wildlife viewing experiences. Across East Africa, largely western tourists spend billions of dollars every year on exclusive safaris. Yet maintaining the flow of surplus value is intimately tied to the safety, security, and reproduction of these wildlife species. To protect this value, securitization through militarization can occur through state and private partnerships on colonized lands. Specific biosecurity projects are increasingly taking place through rhino and elephant breeding facilities, where western scientific and veterinary officials orchestrate and deploy the darting, capturing, and artificial insemination of these rare animals. In other instances, orphaned animals are airlifted and translocated to secure facilities, before the animals are reintroduced to the “wild”. Often contextualized against narratives of “saving species from extinction” such activities blur the boundaries between state, private, and philanthropic organizations and encircle an ever-growing number of actors and institutions into this common cause. Based on a case study from Central Kenya, this paper will examine how the biosecurity of a rare wildlife species is created and enforced through these entanglements to create surplus value from rare species. The paper argues that biosecurity is deployed as a way by which the state can exonerate itself from the expensive work of wildlife protection, while private organizations are increasingly doing the work of the state and increasing their power to dictate the terms of human-wildlif
4. Evaluating Planned Grazing as an Approach to Improving Rangeland Habitat for Grevy’s Zebra and Pastoralists in Kenya
1Washington University, USA, 2Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Kenya, 3Wyss Academy for Nature, Kenya
The Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) is categorized as Endangered A1a, 2c by the IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group and is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Over 92% of the remaining population is found in Kenya. Rangeland health plays a critical role in securing the future for Grevy’s zebra, other wildlife, and pastoral peoples’ livelihoods in northern Kenya. However, environmental uncertainties, and an increasing diversity of competing claims on the rangelands, is compromising the integrity and function of rangelands. Grevy’s Zebra Trust, an NGO based in northern Kenya, identified ‘limiting overgrazing of the rangelands by livestock’ as a critical element to fight rangeland degradation. Traditional governance and Community Conservancies ‘visioning’ approach are two systems that aim to govern livestock movement in northern Kenya. In this study, we investigate the decision-making process surrounding livestock grazing movements, the perceptions of local communities towards planned grazing, and the intersect between the community conservancy model and traditional approaches to grazing management. Using Westgate Community Conservancy and Uaso Rongai as the study sites, we carried out structured interviews with 177 participants from randomly selected households. In Westgate Community Conservancy, our analysis showed that the majority of people are aware of the visioning process and the role that planned grazing plays within the conservancy. Despite this approach, traditional governing structures still play a role in influencing the movement of livestock in the conservancy. However, the extent of influence in both governing systems appears to be limited with pasture availability and security being significant drivers of livestock movement in both sites. The implications of these findings are further discussed to inform rangeland restoration practices in northern Kenya.