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AWF Supports Launch of Kenya's First-Ever Formal Community-Driven Land Use Master Plan

  • Friday, September 2, 2011
  • Kitengela, Kenya

The Kajiado Pastoralists Forum and the Olkejuado County Council recently launched Kenya’s first-ever formal community-driven land use master plan, which provides a 20-year framework for the sustainable development of local lands.

Plan Aims to Ensure Survival of Maasai Culture and Wildlife, Provides Model for Sustainable Development throughout Kenya

KITENGELA, Kenya, September 2, 2011 -- In response to the alarming pace of land fragmentation and development occurring in an area just next to Nairobi National Park, the local Kajiado Pastoralists Forum (KPF) and the Olkejuado County Council recently launched Kenya's first-ever formal community-driven land use master plan (LUMP).

The community-driven LUMP provides a sustainable, 20-year framework for wildlife dispersal and livestock grazing across 60,000 hectares of the Kitengela--Isinya--Kipeto area, located just south of the park. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), which provided technical and capacity support throughout the planning process, strongly endorses the plan.

"The African Wildlife Foundation supports smart development that provides the most ecologically and economically sound choices for the local community," said Kathleen Fitzgerald, director of land conservation for AWF. "We commend the County Council and KPF for working together to develop a land-use plan that carefully balances the community's long-term needs with the survival of the wildlife population. Proactive planning such as this holds the key to building a sustainable future, not simply in this area but throughout Kenya." KPF is a grassroots organization that represents the local Maasai people, who inhabit much of the Kitengela--Isinya--Kipeto area.

The community lands in the Kitengela--Isinya--Kipeto region are used not only by the wildlife of Nairobi National Park for migration and habitation but also by the Maasai for cattle grazing. Over time, however, these lands have been privatized, subdivided, and sold, resulting in precipitous development; fragmented, fenced-in plots; and degraded land that is increasingly susceptible to drought and other ecological shocks. The LUMP offers a comprehensive plan that enables sustainable economic growth--including the sustainable use of natural resources within an environmentally and culturally acceptable framework--minimizes sprawl, and encourages land conservation and pastoralism.

"We Maasai are inexorably linked to Africa's natural lands and wildlife, but much of these lands has been fragmented and developed in such a way that supports neither wildlife nor pastoralism," Ogeli Makui, AWF community organizer and resident of Kitengela, explained. "Livestock are the livelihood of the Maasai. Without sufficient open rangeland for our cattle, the Maasai's very way of life is under threat. If development were to continue at this current pace, and without foreplanning, Africa would be putting the future of one of the continent's most well-known ethnic groups at risk."

The Kitengela--Isinya--Kipeto LUMP includes a zonation plan for the region, limiting subdivision in various zones and outlining which area will allow for expansion and urban development. The plan also designates certain areas for livestock and wildlife.

Development of the LUMP began in 2004. At the request of the County Council of Olkejuado and with grassroots community support from KPF, the Department of Physical Planning initiated the planning process. The LUMP was finalized and formally adopted by Kenya's Ministry of Lands in February 2010 and by the County Council in July 2010. Because such plans cannot be implemented in Kenya without an official launch, the County Council and KPF hosted a launch ceremony on Friday, Aug. 26, at Isinya. More than 500 Maasai reportedly attended the launch to show their support, and community organizers challenged local and national representatives to lead the way in implementing the LUMP to sustain the open spaces that are so critical for the area's livestock and wildlife. The launch included speeches by youth leaders, elders, and religious leaders who all recognize the value of the LUMP and the need for leadership among all sectors of society.

AWF has already offered its technical assistance and stands prepared to support the various governmental agencies in implementing the land-use plan. This may involve equipping workers with GIS technologies, training in mapping, and recruiting and training scouts to help with land monitoring.

"We see the LUMP as a great model for Kenya, but the next step, and the real task at hand, is to implement it," said Fitzgerald. "We are racing against time: The Maasai and the wildlife don't have alternatives to this land."

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About African Wildlife Foundation

For more than 50 years, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has worked as a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF's programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa's people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted partnerships with the private sector for conservation tourism to benefit local African communities as a means to improve livelihoods, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation--all to ensure the survival of Africa's unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States.

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