Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya (PDNK)
Kenya’s ASALs make up 80% of the country’s land mass and are home to about
10 million people. This is approximately 20% of the county’s population of
40 million. ASALs also host about 75% of the country’s livestock, with an estimated market value of USD 1 billion. Further, they provide direct livelihoods to more than 7.5 million pastoralists and play host to more than 90% of Kenya’s ecotourism interests. For a long time, government regimes viewed pastoralist areas as net consumers of national wealth that offered poor prospects of return on investment. Pastoralism was therefore less valued than other forms of land use and less well-supported.
However, recent studies have shown that these views were misplaced. As a result, Governments in several countries, including Kenya, have now formed ministries or other authorities to enhance the contribution of pastoralism to food security, environmental stewardship, and economic growth. The defining feature of the ASAL is their aridity with annual rainfall in the arid areas ranging between 150mm and 450mm per year, and in the semi-arid districts between 500mm and 850mm per year. Temperatures in the arid districts are high throughout the year, with high rates of evapotranspiration. The primary policy challenge has been how to ensure food security in a sustainable manner in environments that are prone to drought, where people’s access to and control over critical livelihood resources such as land is insecure, and where unpredictability is set to increase as climate change takes hold. These areas experience chronic food insecurity, conflict and insecurity and spiralling poverty levels. As such, concerted and affirmative action is required to redress this situation. PDNK’s extensive national reach, therefore, gives it a legitimate mandate to promote the pastoralist agenda for development. It also makes it a key actor in the fight against poverty and gender inequality; which are major components of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Lack of comprehensive land-use policies and changing land tenure systems, extractive activities, mega development projects and insecurity that restrict free movement of people and livestock have negatively affected pastoralists. These factors have greatly interfered with their traditional coping mechanisms, which entail nomadic and transhumant migration in search of water and pasture. Today, PDNK forms the consolidated Kenyan pastoralists’ voice addressing issues of concern to the community especially with the transition of government from central to counties. This provides an opportunity to ensure pastoralist friendly policies and statues within the context of devolved governance and multifaceted activities targeting the Arid and Semi- Arid Lands (ASALs) i.e. oil, gas, geothermal, wind and solar energy exploration and the LAPSSET Project as part of the realisation of the Vision 2030. In addition the policy and legal reforms currently underway to transform Kenyas’ social, economic, political and governance landscape puts PDNK in a unique position, in articulating the pastoralist agenda for responsive and accountable governance and people centred development at the County and National levels.