I visited Irong community conservancy and spoke to Wilson Kimaru, the conservancy manger, and Sammy Kiptek, the conservancy committee chair person, about the challenges that affect their community and how PRM has addressed some of these. Irong Community Conservancy is a community forest set aside as community land that sits on top of a hill covering five Location namely; Kapkuikui, Loboi, Kamar and Kaibosoi, in Mochongoi and Emining wards in Marigat and Mogotio Sub- counties. It is located 25km from Marigat, Baringo County, Rift Valley Region. The conservancy was formed in 2008 and Irong is known as home to the Endorois community and they live adjacent to the llchamus, the Bokor Keben, and Lembus communities. The Endorois are a pastoralist community who are approximately 60,000 indigenous people, who have resided in the Lake Bogoria area of Kenya for the past centuries.
Question: Wilson and Kiptek, what are some of the key challenges that your community faces?
“Drought is a key challenge for us. The prolonged drought we have faced in recent years has meant that a number of water points have dried up leading to water scarcity and shortage. This has resulted in the community migrating from their native homes to other places in search of water. This also made women and children vulnerable to the effects of poverty i.e., instead of concentrating on income generating activities such as crop farming, honey and milk production among others, they spend the entire day travel long distances to fetch water for livestock and for domestic use. This has often resulted to our women suffering malnutrition, trauma, extreme heat and exhaustion”Kiptek:
“The community lacked awareness and technical capacity on rangeland management and conservation of resources, and some members of the community engaged in animal poaching and tree cutting for charcoal burning. This depleted their vegetation and tree cover in the community forest and on Irong Hill. It led to the loss of the greater Kudu, an endangered species in the area that can contribute to community economic development through tourism exchange.”
Question: “Can you tell me about the participatory rangeland management (PRM) approach that you have been implementing?”
“With support from RECONCILE, ILRI and the county government we have been implementing PRM over the last three years. This helped us understand our resources and how to better manage them. We drew up a rangeland management plan that we are now trying to implement.”
Question: What impact has PRM had on these challenges?
“Through the PRM intervention Tabarweche borehole was rehabilitated to increase water supply thereby reducing fetching time from 20min per 20 liters jerrycan to 2 minutes of the same volume. Sukta spring was also protected to sustain the seasonal river and supply water to four locations within the conservancy thus serving more than 13,000 community members.”Kiptek:
“Through the PRM approach the community have been trained on the importance of wildlife conservation alongside mapping of migratory routes of the greater Kudu. They have engaged in restoration initiatives by planting trees in degraded areas to enhance water catchment while training the community on the need for afforestation and awareness on harvesting only affected and old trees while planting new ones.”Kiptek:
“The conservancy also lacked a management and governance committee initially and PRM led to the formation of rangeland management committee of 17 members that is functioning well and coordinated. This management committee comprises of 10 men and 7 women thus giving room for diversification of needs and ideas for improved rangeland management. Finally, as a way of empowering women and youth, 30 beehives were distributed to 30 women groups to enhance honey production in the area for improved income generation at the household level.”
An Independent Impact Assessment(https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/118128) confirmed that the impacts of PRM on communities has been positive, with clear positive outcomes in terms of strengthening governance including women’s empowerment, as well as improved productivity of the land. Through the Livestock and Climate initiative of the CGIAR (https://www.cgiar.org/initiative/34-livestock-climate-and-system-resilience/), RECONCILE, ILRI and the Baringo county will continue to strengthen the capacities of communities to implement their rangeland management plan including undertaking rangeland restoration trials. The initiative will also be upscaling the PRM approach to other parts of Kenya, starting with Wajir county in 2023.Read more about PRM on: https://rangelandsinitiative.org/piloting-use-participatory-rangeland-management-prm-kenya-and-tanzania