Empower communities towards sustainable land management, scientists told

Academicians and researchers on land management in Africa need to empower communities in drylands in promoting sustainable use of the natural resources towards profit making.

Speaking during the launch of a new book titled “Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in drylands of Kenya” at a Nairobi hotel recently, UNDP Resident Representative, Nardos Bekele-Thomas observed that teamwork is needed in transforming community’s social development.

She said that the increasing degradation of ecosystems and the growing impacts of climate change urgently call for a change in the way natural resources are managed.

“Sharing knowledge on sustainable land management with communities with evidence based projects can empower them to manage the resources effectively towards changing their lives,” Bekele – Thomas noted.

Bekele – Thomas observed that Kenya with its 80 percent drylands, just like Israel, the Middle East and the US State of Arizona, can be turned into a paradise of food production that is capable of feeding the neighboring countries.

She said that it is important that Universities develop curriculums that promote sustainable use of the natural resource base for higher productivity that generates more incomes for the rural communities, while at the same time ensuring maintenance of critical ecosystem functions in fragile areas.

She added that Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is one of the most effective measures in mitigating effects of climate change in Kenya and other drylands in parts of Africa.

Bekele – Thomas observed that poorly developed academic curriculums are to blame for joblessness in Africa since courses are not tailored in line with the ecosystem of the continent.

She revealed that the project will be upscale to cover 14 other counties in Kenya up from the four namely Kitui, Narok, Embu and Garissa. It will be funded by the UNDP, the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB).

Prof. Fred Segor, the Principal Secretary – State Department of Livestock said that the project has enabled communities in drylands to achieve productivity through improved breeds of livestock, rehabilitation of degraded land and change of livelihoods of the residents.

He said that the government is committed to supporting research in helping improve community’s resilience.

“We are in the process of fast-trucking a policy on drylands to enhance the development in the areas as well create a conducive environment towards the extraction of natural resources.

Mainstreaming SLM in Agro-Pastoral Production Systems of Kenya is a 5 Year project borne of partnership between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Government of Kenya through its Ministry of Livestock Development and United Nations Development Program.

The long term goal of the project is to promote economic development, food security and sustainable land use practices while restoring the ecological integrity of the ASALs.

The SLM Agro-Pastoral project under this output engages communities in intensive learning and integration of SLM knowledge in agro-pastoral innovations, using the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) techniques.

The book jointly produced by the Government of Kenya and UNDP, is a compilation of scholarly research by various experts drawn from government, research institutions, Universities and civil society organizations highlighting the importance of conserving the country’s natural resource base.

According to Frank Msafiri, the National Coordinator for Civil Society Organizations for SLM, without drastic changes in the way Kenya uses land, the country will not be able to sustain both subsistence and national economies.

He cautioned on the collapse of entire ecosystems and landscapes at current levels of degradation exacerbated by climate change unless communities are involved in adapting to the situation.

“If the current condition continues unabated, there will be less food and clean water and worse conditions for the nation’s poorest people,” Msafiri added.

He called on scientists to engage communities from grassroots by demystifying the book and other informative materials to enable them change their way of doing things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *