Different counties in Kenya have their unique challenges which call for different strategies to address their development needs. Our focus today is on the pastoralist communities whose mobile way of life may makes it difficult for them to benefit from ongoing sustainable development initiatives.
Pastoralists who are often considered to be among the most economically and socially disadvantaged groups tend to have limited access to extension and veterinary services. They also have limited access to major consumer markets and other development opportunities that may arise. In addition, they face threats, often occasioned by effects of climate change and droughts which hinder the availability of pasture and water for their livestock. As a result, the pastoralists end up moving from one area to another in search for water and pasture. The movement exposes them to trans-boundary animal diseases and sanitation challenges which they perennially struggle with. The problem is compounded by lack of institutional and policy frameworks that specifically address their nomadic lifestyles.
Therefore, addressing the unique needs of pastoralist or nomadic communities is crucial to Kenya’s economy since the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya is the home of approximately six million people.
Managing Scarcity and Plenty: Towards Climate- Smart Pastoral Innovations in Kenya project
To strengthen evidence on climate- smart pastoral innovations, the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) implemented a project to build the capacity of beneficiaries to respond more effectively to animal health, climatic change/extreme weather conditions, market opportunities and policy. The project focused on pastoralist areas of Kenya- Turkana, Marsabit and Lodwar.
The project, implemented under the Economic Governance programme of Open Society Institute for East Africa (OSIEA), aimed to build evidence on climate-smart pastoral innovations in disease surveillance and management. Additionally, the project aimed to build evidence on innovative livestock marketing and trading initiatives to facilitate learning, uptake, and up-scaling.
The knowledge generated would prepare pastoral communities to actively participate in policy debates, dialogues, and action. The ensuing participation would provide spaces/platforms for these communities to present policy recommendations. Ultimately, this would facilitate the uptake of policies either through legislation or by informing the design and implementation of various programmes that target pastoralists.
To achieve these objectives, the project identified and sensitized the community on potential climate-smart pastoral practices. Participatory assessment of opportunities for livestock commercialisation enabled CABE to identify the capacity gaps which limit the commercialisation of pastoralist activities. Additionally, the project identified policy spaces for local stakeholder engagement and built the capacity of pastoralists to influence policy. Importantly, the project documented various innovations in integrated disease management using indigenous technical knowledge and modern ICT-based provision of veterinary services.
“Climate change has been with us since 1753. We have witnessed abnormal rains, it can rain for a whole day, then the rains disappear for one year. This has made me lose livestock, I have lost more than 3000 animals from 1989 periodically,” says Tumal Orto, a pastoralist in Marsabit.
CABE’s climate adaptation and mitigation efforts resonates with the Kenyan government’s commitment to address climate change to provide solutions to most of the country’s development challenges. This is evident in the anchoring of the environmental pillar in Kenya’s blueprint Vision 2030 and the big four agenda (manufacturing, farming, health care and low-cost housing.
“It’s a reality today that we will have to work in different ways to be responsive to climate change so as to sustain economic development,” says Kenya’s president, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta during his address on the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly held on 23 February 2021.
A community learning centre
The knowledge, and contributions of this project culminated into the establishment of a learning centre. “We though to set up a leaning centre that integrates indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge because we believe that climate change adaptation and mitigation can be contributed by both indigenous people’s knowledge and scientific knowledge.”
Cumulatively, CABE’s work on climate change mitigation and adaptation will increase the pastoralist communities’ ability to effectively manage scarcity and surplus amidst extreme weather events which have increasingly become erratic in the last decade due to climate change. Ultimately, this will build the resilience among Kenya’s pastoralist communities and subsequently improve Kenya’s economy.
The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) has given an impetus to the ongoing Kenya-wide concerns on the need to institutionalize the use of evidence in the country’s policy making, implementation, and evaluation. This is timely as the country continues to grapple with youth unemployment despite the existence of different policies and regulations-the most recent being the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (2007) and Kazi Kwa Vijana.
Speaking at English point Marina, Mombasa-Kenya in a conference convened by the Partnership for African Social Governance and Research-PASGR, CABE, executive director Dr. Hannington Odame expressed concern that the agricultural sector which accounts for 34 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and a key driver of Kenya’s economy provided little traction for the youth. Odame noted that agribusiness provides the greatest employment opportunity for the youth, who the International Labour Organization reports their unemployment rate to be 35 percent of the population.
Evidence informed policy making is not institutionalized.
The conference held between 25 to 26 February 2021 brought together collaborative houses (CABE, Pamoja trust, African Platform for Social Protection and Institute of Policy Analysis and Research-Rwanda) under Utafiti Sera house, a program implemented by PASGR.
Presenting different studies, the four houses agreed that evidence-based policy making has not been institutionalized in Kenya and Africa at large. Agreeing further that existing policies are not comprehensive and that related interventions are not sustainable; the houses questioned the role of policy culture in evidence use by government departments in Africa.
The social dimension
The houses highlighted the importance of the social element to stakeholder engagement. “What do socio-economic survey inform? How do we share information of the data collected and how does it engage with the implementation of the projects?” posed Samuel Olando, executive director, Pamoja Trust. Olando adds that the consideration of social dimensions is important since it helps in stakeholder engagement frameworks.
Emphasizing on a need for a comprehensive approach which recognizes social, economic, political, and ethical dimensions, the houses called for a multi stakeholder approach to evidence based policy making. “partnership with KCDMS through KEPSA and the County government of Makueni to identify gaps and challenges for youth employment in the agro production has borne fruits. This is illustrated by successful engagements with the CEC Agriculture, Makueni, as a key participant – under the auspice of “Feed the Future Program” housed by Makueni, USAID, Alternatives, RTI and CABE,” says Waithera Gaitho, executive director, Alternatives Africa.
The Utafiti Sera interhouse conference is a step in the right direction on the need to entrench the uptake of evidence-based policy making in Kenya. Cognizant that policy engagement is not a short-term goal, hence requiring intergenerational partnerships, the houses commit to engage individual policy makers and actors; and learn from what works to seize relevant and evolving partnerships through an integrated approach to achieve a practical, sustainable, comprehensive policy on youth employment. Achievement of this will require trust building, policy dialogue and an appreciation of the role of policy culture (the way different governmental departments embrace the use of evidence in informing policies) in building an ecosystem of evidence use in policy making. Subsequently, implemented evidence-based policies will effectively help the Kenyan government to achieve its goals such as youth employment creation.
Young woman entrepreneur tells of her experience during the Global Food Challenges Programme Second Mid-Term Review (MTR) meeting in Nairobi. (small subtitle)
This interview was conducted by Ms. Eunice Likoko, University of Amsterdam (UvA) Ph.D. Student.
Jennifer Atieno is a woman entrepreneur and a farmer in Kisumu. She came to know about the Women Food Entrepreneurs research project in the first field familiarization visits by the Ph.D. researchers with community-based women groups in Kisumu city slums. In January 2018, she participated in the Food and Business Knowledge Platform Second Mid Term Review meeting in Nairobi and this was her comment: “I learned new ways on how as a farmer and entrepreneur I can improve food and nutrition plus generate income. The meeting also enlightened me on new food preservation methods.”(more…)
The first Agricultural Industry Forum (AIF) and exhibition was officially opened on March 3, 2020, at the Nairobi Hospital Convention Centre. The forum called on designing and incorporating more innovative technologies and increased investment by the private sector stakeholders in the agribusiness sector.
The conference main aim was to provide a national platform for discussions on how best to strengthen and sustain effective partnerships in the agricultural sector in the context of devolution.
Speaking at the opening of the Forum, Israel Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Oded Joseph stated that they will continue to partner with Kenya in undertaking agricultural activities. “Israel being a world leader in the field of agriculture, it will continue to be a significant partner in creating capacity-building opportunities between the two countries.”
He added that in order for an economy to be sustainable and economically viable, the business sector has to play a vital role, the youth have to be involved and basic infrastructures have to be set up to support the agriculture sector.
During the forum, the Chairman of Agricultural Industry Network, Mr. Edward Mudibo called on fast-tracking of the national agricultural policy, which revolves around the main objectives of increasing productivity and income growth, especially for smallholders; enhanced food security and equity, emphasis on irrigation to introduce stability in agricultural output, commercialization and intensification of production, especially among small scale farmers.
Mr. Mudibo noted that platforms, where the private sector, national and county government can activate new strategic partnerships, need to be created for transformational change within the Kenyan agribusiness sector. He also highlighted that governance and the role of cooperatives need to be rethought.
The other key message that came out of the forum was the need to make agriculture attractive to the youth so as to reduce the unemployment crisis. There was the need to develop guidelines for public-private partnerships(PPPs) between county government and the private sector, and actionable strategies to improve the agribusiness sector.
Moreover, the government will establish six agro-processing units within each economic bloc across the country. The units will be developed using a one-stop-shop rapid Public-Private Partnership(PPP) process for local and export markets.
On January 31, the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship signed a partnership agreement with Agricycle East Africa Limited to empower smallholder farmers, women, and youth by creating market linkages for value-added fruits.
Agricycle East Africa Ltd is a social enterprise subsidiary of Agricycle Global specializing in fruit processing and marketing to create sustainable business relations for women empowerment.
The three-year agreement entails designing projects, resource mobilization, and creating collaborative platforms for learning and knowledge exchange on fruit agribusiness, women empowerment, deployment of technologies and equipment for fruit drying and capacity building.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Executive Director CABE, Dr. Hannigton Odame said “This MoU complements CABE’s activities in facilitating market linkages, capacity building and training, research, and policy processes. On the other hand, it allows Agricycle East Africa to partner with CABE-affiliated farmer groups to alleviate poverty through agri-preneurship and provide food safety and health standards in fruit processing and marketing activities.”
After signing the MoU, the two organizations will develop an implementation strategy alongside a resource mobilization strategy. In the first phase, the partners will engage farmer groups in Western Kenya and eventually scale-out in other counties, which produce plenty of fruits but have inadequate market linkages.
“We will now move to create an action plan for the first year of the MoU implementation and develop Standard Operating Procedures in efforts to mobilize resources and provide technical and social activities from each organization,” Agricycle East African Director, Mr. Patrick Nderitu stated.
Also, the two organizations will invest in women and youth empowerment to build their agribusiness skills, provide access to market linkages and access to agri-financing.