Kenya: Investors urged to involve local communities in natural resources management to reduce conflicts
Author: Linus Gitahi, in Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 1 August 2016
"Involve communities to reduce conflicts"
Maasai Mara Game Reserve has in the past been touted as the eighth wonder of the world...In recent times, however, the conversation has turned from the wonders of the Mara to the dangers that threaten this great international treasure that is a big tourist attraction in Kenya...One key threat is...the built-up areas. In some parts of Maasai Mara, there are so many camps and hotels that they threaten to turn the reserve into one big slum, a prospect that would not be attractive to both the animals and the tourists.
This is where the conservancies come in. The ones in the Mara teach important lessons on how business and community interests can exist side by side while focusing on conserving both the environment and natural resources. The Maasai Mara group brings together the owners of 16 conservancies covering more than 400,000 acres and more than 20,000 Maasai families that have agreed to put their land together for conservation.
They team up with the owners of camps in the conservancies. The agreement is that the landowner gets paid a certain amount for every bed night in the camps. In exchange, the landowner agrees to limit the number of animals he keeps and the frequency of their grazing to ensure that the balance between livestock and wildlife is maintained.Both parties agree not to fence their land so that wildlife can move freely across the conservancies, which are managed by a board of representatives of the land and camp owners...The model of the Maasai Mara conservancies could offer solutions to the perennial conflicts that assail African countries that have natural resources, whose genesis is usually the exclusion of the local communities.