In the rangelands of Northern Kenya, the wellbeing of humans, wildlife and ecosystems is constrained by the availability of water. Like many other ecosystems in the region, the capacity of the Gambella wetland north of Mount Kenya to deliver vital ecosystem services to people, livestock and wild animals has dramatically declined. The causes can be found in economic development, population growth and climate change. Several uncoordinated interventions by government and international development organizations have failed to reverse this vicious trend. The ineffectiveness of past and current governance and management systems has led to a “tragedy of the commons” situation where the most powerful actors grab available natural resources. Already the most vulnerable local communities are further marginalized, ecosystem services are threatened, and conflicts are intensifying. This calls for innovative governance, technological and financial solutions for water, and landscape governance and management to be collectively identified, designed, and implemented.
To secure sustainable spring water contribution to dry season flow in the lower Ewaso N’giro river, for the mutual benefits of ecosystems, wildlife, and people.
Co-design of solution and wetland stewardship
CETRAD, as the key partner of the Wyss Academy in Kenya, has established an inclusive and broad stakeholder engagement process to co-design innovative solutions for the integrated development and management of the Waso Mara sub-catchment and Gambella wetland. Informed by local knowledge and in-depth ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic research conducted as part of this initiative, we develop a joint vision for the future of the sub-catchment and the wetland, and we craft complementary pathways to achieve it.
Socio-technical innovations for just sustainable governance of the Gambella wetland
The aim of this intervention, implemented in partnership with CETRAD, is to develop a model for the restoration and management of sub-catchments, wetlands and springs in the semi-arid lands of Kenya that can be scaled up for the benefit of the entire landscape. To achieve this, we have developed and tested a research framework, set up inclusive engagement platforms at different levels, and contributed to enabling an environment in which innovative solutions can be co-designed to address the complex and multidimensional issues at stake. The Water Resource User Association in charge of the sub-catchment is now officially recognized by the government, and has been reformed to be more transparent, inclusive and able to deliver its mandate, including the development of the integrated sub-catchment plan. The draft wetland management plan is developed based on the outcomes of our research and the subcatchment management plan, and will serve as a basis to formulate the strategies and solutions for more sustainable and inclusive use of the resources.