February 19, 2024

Empowering Kenya’s ASALs Through Coordinated Strategies

Juliet Hinga

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Communities in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs) face various challenges brought about by the harsh impacts of climate change. These areas are characterized by limited rainfall, high temperatures, and environmental hazards such as droughts and floods, necessitating communities to leave their homes in search of food, water, and feeds for their livestock, thus straining the already scarce resources.

The ASALs regions cover over 80 percent of Kenya’s landmass, consisting of approximately 39 percent of the Kenyan population, and are home to about 90 percent of wildlife and pastoral wealth, also embodying over 75 percent of the country’s livestock. Despite the enormous potential for development in livestock, pastoral and desert safari tourism and natural resources, the regions have continued to be impoverished and underdeveloped.

Recognizing the potential of the ASALs regions and the pressing need to address these issues and empower the communities, the Transformational Resilience Programming (TRP) project, under the USAID Strategic Partnership Program, is spearheading the development of the State Department of ASALs and Regional Development (SDARD) Strategic Plan (2023-2027).

In a workshop organized from January 29 to February 2, 2024, at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS), TRP brought together various stakeholders including the SDARD Strategic Plan technical committee and consultants to evaluate the current Strategic Plan (2018 – 2022) and pick out key lessons for the next phase.

Once complete, the strategy will focus on reducing the impacts of climate change, improving food and nutrition security, accelerating the adoption of technology, and promoting peaceful co-existence among communities. The strategy also aims to coordinate various approaches that will not only mitigate the immediate challenges faced by the ASAL communities but also strengthen sustainable development initiatives.

Aligning with Vision 2030, Bottom Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), USAID’s Feed the Future strategy and other initiatives, the strategy will consolidate the efforts of government and development partners to ensure that communities are increasingly becoming sustainable in the face of emergencies.

Against the backdrop of ongoing climate-related challenges, the significance of a well-thought-out strategy for ASALs is crucial as it provides a road map that guides how various actors will unify their efforts to create a better future for all communities.

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