Tana Delta now breathes new life

The Tana Delta is on its path to recovery, thanks to a new initiative to ensure land is well utilized.

The delta is located in the coastal county of Tana River and serves several communities, both pastoralists and subsistence farmers, who rely on the rich ecosystem for their livelihood.

But the resource is undermined by poor governance, rendering activities such as deforestation, over fishing and water diversions to quench the domestic and agricultural irrigation. In a bid to restore the ecosystem and reduce tensions between communities, the County government of Tana River adopted the LUP that was designed by the government in conjunction with partners. Community members were incorporated to manage the delta to ensure they take charge of its conservation.

Peter Odhengo - Policy Analyst and Climate Change Expert at The National Treasury. He led a team that designed a Land Use Programme for the Tana Delta. The program has helped reduce conflicts in the rich ecosystem.
Peter Odhengo – Policy Analyst and Climate Change Expert at The National Treasury. He led a team that designed a Land Use Programme for the Tana Delta. The program has helped reduce conflicts in the rich ecosystem.

The Counties now understand the village planning process through the project,” says Peter Odhengo, a Climate Change Expert in the Project Management and Resource Mobilization Division of The National Treasury.

“We worked with one consultant to give the document legitimacy,” says Odhengo, who admits that inclusion of too many consultants in a project slows down the work.

The application of Land Use Plan (LUP) aims at streamlining land-use implementation across other deltas in Kenya, especially the Tana Delta which has been the centre of bloody disputes between neighbouring communities for decades.

“In the past, there have been a lot of conflicts, but over the last one year, Tana Delta has been stable,”

In the past one year, there have been no conflicts in the area and this is attributed to the land use plan that guides the establishment of energy, infrastructure, settlement, conservation and investments.

The 30- year plan was launched in 2015, and is currently being used and its efficiency being monitored on the basis of settlements and number of livestock coming from the middle catchment of Garissa.

During the dry season cattle keepers migrate from Garissa in search of pasture and water. It will also monitor investment plans.

The evidence will manifest in regeneration of mangroves and pristine beaches that characterize the delta ecosystem, good quality of life for the people and wise use of investments.

The innovation earned Kenya a global award which recognized the methodology on adaptation. The award is given to governments for excellence in innovation. The implementation, to be carried out to the tune of US$ 3.5 million, will involve community members and professionals from the national and the County government. Successes of the project will be replicated in other deltas.

This community driven approach is different from past plans that disregarded locals, reason why they failed to attract the support of communities.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, an expert in adaptation, says the most vulnerable must be involved in the planning of projects from the initial stages.

“The top down approach is not enough, we also need the bottom up approach, “he added.

Speaking at a conference on adaptation and climate change in Rotterdam, Netherlands,

Dr. Huq is the co-chair of the Global Programme for Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA) says that the meeting is aimed at sharing experiences on best practices towards adaptation, as well as seeking urgent solutions that will go a long way in helping to save lives in the face of extreme climate.

During the conference, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced that the cost of adaptation in developing countries is likely to double.

“It is vital that governments understand the costs involved in adapting to climate change,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Doubling of costs means that the vulnerable will continue to bear the burden of climate change. Dr. Huq, urges governments to prudently direct funds to the most vulnerable in society

The Tana Delta project is funded by the government of Kenya and the British government. The project was reviewed by the Dutch Government and has international and local partners, and is overseen by the inter ministerial committee on Sustainable management of Deltas in Kenya.

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