|Magadi Community NRM Institutions Project|
Building Community Institutions to Realise the Economic Potential of Nature
Famed for its expansive soda lake, Magadi Division is a beautiful semi-arid area 100km to the south-west of Nairobi, and the home of nomadic Maasai pastoralists. As with most other pastoral communities in Kenya, the area experiences high levels of poverty and increasing environmental degradation. However, Magadi also has significant income-generating potential due to its exceptional natural resources (such as large wildlife populations and breathtaking scenery with a unique volcanic landscape), and its close proximity to potential markets in the capital city. Although the Magadi communities are aware of the income generating potential of their natural resources, progress on realising this potential has been slow. A key underlying cause has been the weakness of the existing institutional mechanisms in place in Magadi, which have hampered the ability of the community to manage their natural resources, to promote conservation-compatible enterprises such as tourism, and to ensure that all community members benefit equally and adequately from the resources.
The main aim of the project was to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the existing institutional mechanisms in place in Magadi Division, and based on this assessment, to develop a series of proposals for institutional reform designed to enable the community to fully realise Magadi’s nature-based economic potential. The project was highly participatory, involving a series of grassroots consultations in all three of the Magadi community group ranches to ascertain community views on how their natural resources should best be used for their benefit. In addition, community members were facilitated to carry out several case studies in other parts of Kenya experiencing similar issues, with the aim of providing them with real-life, practical examples of success stories and potential solutions.