Kajiado District like most areas in Kenya does not have a long history of collaborative management involving linkages between government and community institutions. The Cross-Borders Biodiversity Project is among the few projects involving the joint participation of district-based agency staff and the communities in project planning and implementation.

Due to a set of unavoidable circumstances the Kenya project component did not have funds for a long period of time in 1999 to 2000 (see separate note on the Kenya Issue).  In Kajiado District, this time of seeming hopelessness was spent in building a strong local district team, by conducting regular visits and consultations to develop a common vision.


Immediate Objective A of the project states: Create an enabling environment that allows local sectoral and development agencies as well as local communities to promote the sustainable use of biodiversity resources. The outputs envisioned under this objective are:

Output A1 Agencies at local level promote the sustainable use of biodiversity.

Output A2 Local communities participate fully in resource conservation at key sites.

Project staff set about building site based management teams, and equipping them with skills to run the project and eventually implement it. Using the structures laid down in the project document, three levels of committees were built:

·        the District Project Steering Committee (DPSC),

·        the District Core Team,

·        the Site Planning Committee.

The District Project Steering Committee

This Committee comprises various central Government Departments with conservation linkages, NGO representation, Members of Parliament, and Local Government. It is chaired by the District Commissioner.  It has been extremely important for the Project to foster linkages with members of this committee to enlist support for the project in the District.  As said earlier, time was not an issue; the project staff spent a lot of time explaining the objectives of the project to Committee members both individually and in different district meetings such as the District Development meetings, District Environment meetings etc.  Members requested site visits, these were undertaken in November of 1999 with funds advanced from the Regional Component. The District Commissioner, led the team and scaled the heights of the Ol Doinyo Orok Mountains which are the focus of the project in the District.  This was seen as overwhelming support for and acceptance of the project. 

A continuous and constant consultation with the office of the DC has ensured the smooth running of the project. When the District Core Team traveled to Tanzania for cross-border meetings, many of them had no passports but the District Commissioner was able to write for them a letter that enabled them to participate in the meetings.  Again this is because he was part of the project and fully identified with it. A recent cross-border meeting at Namanga in Kenya was hosted successfully by the District team.


District Core Team

The District Project Steering Committee (DPSC) is large, consisting of 22 people.  It was therefore considered to be too broad and inappropriate for the day-to-day running of project activities.  A team of nine heads of department and an NGO was drawn from the DPSC and has been deeply involved in driving project work.  The team consisted of:

1.                  District Forestry Officer

2.                  District Environment Conservation Officer

3.                  District Hydrologist

4.                  District Livestock Production Officer

5.                  District Social Development Officer

6.                  The Manager, Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)

7.                  The Game Warden (KWS)

8.                  District Development Officer

These officers were trained in various principles to ensure a common vision or understanding of the project and its objectives.  Using a series of meetings in the boardroom of a sister project, project staff trained the team on the ICDP concept, site-planning process, the objectives of the project etc.  This training had to be repeated several times because of the disruption in the flow of project funds.  This has now however proved to be advantageous as the team is confident and has gained a full understanding of the projects design and intent.

A sub set of the District Core Team is the Divisional Team.  This team comprises of the same departments as the core team and operates at the lower divisional levels near the forest site.  They have been working with the project since its inception in 1998.  The core team under the supervision of project staff, trained the Divisional group.  Training others helped build the confidence of the core team even more and also imparted a better understanding of the project.

The divisional team worked on the ground truthing exercises and various situational analysis missions under the guidance of the District Team.  The Team has been particularly useful in the site planning process as they live with the local people and interact with them daily.  They therefore have the inner information and have the added advantage of speaking the local language, Maa.  The project has immensely benefited from their community mobilization skills.  All the community meetings (barazas) were organised through the involvement of team; the meetings were well attended despite the fact that the period 1999 – 2000 was a drought period.

The divisional team was instrumental in the formation of the Community Environmental Committees, which carried out the Site Planning processes.


Site Planning Committee

The Site Planning Committees work at village level around the sites, involve governmental and non-governmental agencies and representatives of local beneficiary communities.  They have been used for the participatory consultative site planning process. These committees have made it possible to attain self-determination in the planning process. Representatives to this committee were chosen democratically by the communities and the communities have a say in the activities undertaken by the project. Representation from the communities has taken into account gender, age and interest.


This has been built on both sides.  Project staff are fully accepted and trusted by the District teams and vise versa.  One example of a situation depicting this mutual trust is the continuation of ground truthing exercises and situation analysis in April–May 2000 when the field Project Officer was away in Thailand for training.  The work continued smoothly.  This trust has again been witnessed in the months of November, December 2000, January, February 2001, during which the team has again been working without the Field Project Officer. (The FPO Kajiado, who was instrumental in building initial trust - resigned to join IUCN in November 2000).

Capacity Building

Right from the first workshop (preparing for the site planning process) in July 2000, the project teams learnt to share out the work by assigning roles and responsibilities to each member of the teams.  The assignments were rotational such that people learnt every area of the project spiral and could facilitate a workshop no matter what the entry point was.  The site planning process was an extremely useful tool for capacity building.  Most of the core team members testify to the benefits they have received from this process – a deeper understanding of conservation issues, a deeper appreciation of the communities and livelihood issues in relation to conservation.  They have understood that the community needs to be actively involved in decisions affecting their own livelihoods.  The local communities on the other hand have recognised and embraced the need to work together with established agencies in the district.


Due to the economic situation in the country, most government departments have not had funds to operate.  This has turned out to be a bonus for the project.  Members of the core team have had enough time to throw themselves to project work and have become part of the cross border family. Again because of lack of funds in departments, the project has had, from time to time, to assist with transport and other operational facilities like stationery and photocopying.  This has certainly helped to build team spirit and togetherness among the core team.


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