Where the north Kenyan coast meets the Somali border lies pristine coral reefs and mangrove forests. Just inland from the shore sit the Boni and Lunghi Forest Reserves - the last fragmented parts of an equatorial forest that would have spanned hundreds of kilometres. This area has extraordinary biodiversity, and is home to many critically endangered species including the Hirola antelope, Aders duiker, leatherback and hawksbill turtles, and the Tana River Mangabey. Other species found here include elephant, lion and African wild dog.
Unregulated logging, increased human settlement, agricultural development and over-fishing present significant challenges to the environment here. At the same time, communities here are some of the most marginalised in Kenya, with high poverty and unemployment rates. Major infrastructural developments, such as the Lamu-Port-South-Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET ) Corridor and dams on the Tana River, present communities with an entirely new set of challenges.
The Biodiversity Management Programme here is managed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF ). ICRAF appointed a full-time project coordinator and a project officer in 2015, they are based in Nairobi and Lamu respectively.
The conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems in the Tana Kipini Lag Badana Bush Bushle land and seascapes, in order to contribute to lasting ecosystem goods and services.
Project Partners and Associates:
Partners for implementation include the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA); National Museums of Kenya; Kenyan Forestry Service; Kenya Wildlife Service; African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), The Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT), and the Rainwater Association of Somalia (RAAS).
The ICRAF Demonstration Site project has two expected results:
1. To strengthen cross-border biodiversity conservation
2. Help improve institutional capacities for management
Impacts and achievements:
Surveys and assessments
In 2014 the project team conducted a rapid survey of the biodiversity of the Tana Kipini Landscape. The team identified mangoes and honey as promising value chains.
Assessments and field surveys have also been done on the dependence of local livelihoods on nature based provisioning ecosystem services (i.e. food, medicine, energy and shelter/ housing). An assessment of forest habitat loss for the cross border area (based on Global Forest Watch) has resulted in conclusion that the Witu area is a hot spot of deforestation, while GFW reveals virtually no loss in the Lag Badana area.
It is worth noting that heightened security problems in the Lamu County area and continued inaccessibility to the South Somalia part of the project area have slowed work considerably.
Value chains development
99 farmers from Witu and Awer underwent training in May 2015 in honey value chain development (HVC) at Arabuko-Sokoke honey centre in Malindi. This was organised by ICRAF with facilitators drawn from the Kenya Forest Service, the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) and the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries. Five HVC groups have been established and two HVC groups (Witu Nyongoro and New Kumekucha beekeeping SHGs) have registered with the local Lamu County Administration. Honey value equipment, including Langstroth hives, beekeeping kits/harvesting gear and centrifuges for honey extraction have been purchased by ICRAF and delivered to two groups in Witu (Witu Nyongoro and New Kumekucha beekeeping SHGs). A baseline study and ex-ante impact assessment of investment options in honey value chains have been done. ICRAF have developed a contract with the Rainwater Association of Somalia to replicate similar HVC development there.
Over 532 farmers have attended agro-forestry awareness creation sessions. 152 have been trained on rain water harvesting. Four rain water harvesting demonstration sites are being established in:
- Soroko / TCN and Witu secondary School - a shallow well and a vegetable garden for the school
- Tangeni - a water pond for crops/agroforestry
- Kakate - roof catchment water harvesting for bees and a tree nursery
- Maisha Masha - run-off water harvesting for bees and a tree nursery
The Rainwater Association of Somalia has been commissioned to implement similar activities there, in agricultural lands directly adjacent to the proposed Lag Badana protected area.
While the security situation is making it difficult to initiate field activities in Somalia, national consultants are able to compile information on the Lag Badana Bush Bushle area and consult with local stakeholders. A successful two-day workshop with participants from Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti on Biodiversity Based Value Chains (BBVC) was held in October 2015. The workshop went very well; participants appreciated and welcomed the initiative to bring together researchers to raise awareness and synthesise knowledge on biodiversity based value chains. Failure to acquire visa in time delayed involvement of two Somali participants.
The Kenya Forest Service has mapped agricultural land in the Tana and Kipini areas. Over 100 farms and farmers interested in agroforestry have been identified. Tree nursery equipment has been purchased and delivered by ICRAF. Four degraded sites in Kenya's Witu Forest have been mapped and prioritised.
Biodiversity and socio-economic information about the cross-border ecosystems is being collected, compiled and made accessible and understandable to stakeholders and decision makers
Land use planning
36 Kenyans have been trained in participatory land use planning for a local planning unit in Lamu, Kenya. Trainees were equipment with motorbikes, laptops, and GPS units. Discussions are underway with the regional government of Jubbaland to do the same in Somalia. There is an ongoing spatial planning process for Lamu County being led by the County Government, supported by the Biodiversity Management Programme.
Policy development and government partnerships
Representatives of the national administration and community leaders went to Nairobi for a number of planning and consultation meetings. Efforts are being made to build capacities of Somali nationals to be able to better manage biodiversity in the pilot area when peace returns.