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Tana River Delta Lessons Learned from Nature Kenya Work

2007 -2014

Tana River Delta

Lessons Learned from Nature Kenya Work

2007 - 2014

Connecting people for change

CONTRIBUTORS Authors: Serah Munguti and Paul Matiku Editors: Fleur Ngw’eno, Serah Munguti and John Mwacharo Design and layout: John Mwacharo Photography: Peter Usher, G.S. Owen, Edwin Utumbi, George Odera, Francis Kagema, John Mwacharo and Dominic Mumbu


© Nature Kenya - the East Africa Natural History Society, 2015 ISBN 9966-761-25-X Published by Nature Kenya - the East Africa Natural History Society P.O. Box 44486 GPO, Nairobi 00100, Kenya Phone (+254) (0) 20 3537568, 0751 624312, 0771 343138 Fax (+254) (0) 20 3741049 Email: Website:


TABLE OF CONTENTS FOREWORD ................................................................................................................. 5 CHAPTER 1: AN OVERVIEW OF THE TANA RIVER DELTA ................................... 7 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 7 1.1 Geographical Location ........................................................................................................ 7 1.2 National Importance ............................................................................................................ 7 CHAPTER 2: CHALLENGES FACING THE TANA RIVER DELTA ............................ 11 2.1 Key Proposed Projects in the River Tana Catchment and Delta ........................ 11 2.2 Institutional Governance of Natural Resources and Development ................... 12 is Uncoordinated 2.3 Insufficient Employment Opportunities and Income for Communities .......... 14 2.4 Diminishing Water Resources ......................................................................................... 14 2.5 Resource Use Conflicts ..................................................................................................... 14 2.6 Population Dynamics ......................................................................................................... 15 2.7 Local Communities are not Represented in Governance ..................................... 15 Processes Affecting the Delta 2.8 External Investment ............................................................................................................ 15 2.9 Social and Cultural Influences ......................................................................................... 15 2.10 Climate Change .................................................................................................................... 15 2.11 Change in the Ecological Conditions of the Delta .................................................. 16 CHAPTER 3: RESPONSES TO CHALLENGES FACING THE .................................. 17 TANA RIVER DELTA 3.1 Framing the Issue and Taking a Stand on the Tana Delta .................................... 17 Developments 3.2 Pooling Numbers for the Campaign ............................................................................. 17 3.3 Engaging Local Communities ......................................................................................... 18 3.4 Engagement in EIA Process ............................................................................................ 18 3.5 Cost-benefit Analysis ......................................................................................................... 19 3.6 Advocating for the Designation of Tana Delta as a Ramsar Site ...................... 19 3.7 Extensive Publicity and Media Coverage ................................................................... 19 3.8 Petitions and Letters .......................................................................................................... 19 3.9 Taking Advocacy to Home Countries of ‘Developers’ ........................................... 21 3.10 Litigation ................................................................................................................................. 21 3.11 Face to Face Meetings ...................................................................................................... 22 CHAPTER 4: SUCESSES AND LESSONS LEARNED IN ........................................ 23 THE TANA RIVER DELTA 4.1 Successes .............................................................................................................................. 23 4.2 Lessons Learned from Nature Kenya Work in the ................................................. 27 Tana River Delta (2007-2014) CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................... 30 CHAPTER 6: RECOMENDATIONS ............................................................................ 31 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................. 32 3

A fisherman at the Tana River. PHOTO: P. USHER

FOREWORD IThe Tana River Delta is one of the most important wetlands in Africa and a key biodiversity area in Kenya. This vast wetland system provides intangible environmental services such as regulating the hydrological cycle, moderating the climate, protecting soil from erosion, stabilizing the shoreline and reducing the impact of storm surges to mention but a few. In addition, the Tana River Delta provides a wide range of habitats for terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity. Recognition of the Tana River Delta as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and a designated Ramsar site further underscores the ecological significance of this important estuarine and deltaic ecosystem. Despite all this, the Tana River Delta has remained one of the most neglected regions in the country, with the majority of its people living below the poverty line. Conflicts have been on the increase in the area owing to increased competition for land use among new projects, natural resource conservation, and community interests. To many community members, the Tana River Delta Land Use Plan offers the most promising hope for managing conflicts over the Delta. Nature Kenya has played an important role in the Land Use Plan process and will continue to push for its implementation for the benefit of the Tana River Delta communities. The promulgation of the 2010 Constitution brought about challenges as well as opportunities with a new devolved governance system coming to effect. There is need to enlighten communities on what they should expect from their regional governments as well as from devolved funding for development. Nature Kenya has been working with communities living in the Delta to enhance their advocacy capacity so as to enable them to negotiate with their county (and national) government representatives, in addition to championing for protection of their livelihood support systems. This publication highlights successes and challenges arising from Nature Kenya’s work in the Tana Delta. This document also depicts Nature Kenya’s long-term aspirations and intended impacts, focusing on livelihoods improvement, land use plan and conflict management work so far undertaken. It is envisaged that conservation lessons learned from the Tana Delta will be replicated in other wetlands across the country. Building on experiences of Tana Delta it is hoped that planners, conservationists, developers, decision-makers and other stakeholders will ensure that community interests are fully taken into account for sustainable management of our wetlands.

Dr. Paul Matiku Executive Director Nature Kenya


Tana River bank near Ozi. PHOTO: P. USHER



Intangible environmental services provided by this vast wetland system include: regulating the hydrological cycle, including catchment, storage and release of rainwater; moderating the climate, including reducing the severity of droughts and floods; protecting the soil from erosion, stabilizing the shoreline and reducing the impact of storm surges; slowing global warming by the absorption of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen; and providing a range of habitats for terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity.

The Tana River Delta, on the north coast of Kenya, is a vast patchwork of palm savanna, seasonally flooded grassland, forest fragments, acacia woodland, lakes, marine wetlands and the river itself (Nature Kenya, 2008a). It supports farmers, livestock herders and fishermen from many communities, and remarkable numbers of wildlife, in particular water birds. Its future now lies in the balance – converted into huge agricultural projects (which have failed in the past) or zoned and managed for a sustainable future for people and wildlife.

1.2.1 A Key Biodiversity Area

The special importance of the Tana Delta for biodiversity conservation includes: Habitats such as Borassus Palm savannah on flooded grassland, which is not included in any protected area; coastal Hyphaene coriacea palm woodland, protected only in a few sites such as Witu Forest and Dodori National Reserve; fragments of coastal and riverine forests with many rare and endemic plants and primates; seasonally flooded acacia woodland providing nesting sites for waterbirds from all over Kenya; sand dunes along the coastline with their specialized vegetation; mudflats and sandbanks where migratory birds feed and rest; and mangrove forests with eight mangrove species and especially fine stands of Heriteria littoralis, Xylocarpus granatum and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (Nature Kenya, 2008a).

1.1 Geographical Location

The Tana River Delta lies at the end of Kenya’s largest river. The Tana River catchment extends from the crests of Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Ranges and the Nyambene Hills in central Kenya, southwards to the Indian Ocean. The catchment has an area of 126,000 km2 (equivalent to 21.7% of the land area in Kenya) and a population of over 7 million people (Water Resources Management Authority, 2009). The river discharges, on average, 4,000 million m3 of freshwater annually. The delta of the River Tana is located in Tana River and Lamu Counties on Kenya’s coast about 200 kilometres north of the coastal town of Mombasa. The Delta proper covers an area of more than 130,000 ha, of which 69,000 ha are regularly inundated, and is home to more than 100,000 people.

BirdLife International has designated Tana River Delta an Important Bird Area mainly on account of the presence of large assemblages of water birds. A 1992-3 study recorded 22 different species of water birds that occurred in the Tana Delta in significant numbers – 1% or more of the biogeographic population (Bennun and Njoroge, 1999). A brief survey in 2012 indicated that similar numbers are still found in the Tana Delta despite an increasing human population. The vast numbers of migratory and resident waterbirds are particularly dependent on the seasonally flooded grasslands and Borassus Palm savannah that cover some 70,000 ha in the heart of the Tana River Delta. In October 2012 the Delta was declared

1.2 National importance

The Tana River Delta is a vast seasonal wetland complex. Its habitats, wildlife and people have adapted their lives to the extremes of drought and flood. The seasons themselves vary dramatically from year to year. A series of drought years, in which ponds dry up and the grasslands are eaten bare, may be followed by a great flood such as the 1997-98 El Niño floods that washed away the tarmac road, destroyed the irrigation dykes, and filled the Delta south of the river with three metres of water (Nature Kenya, 2008a).


Kenya’s newest Ramsar site – a wetland of international importance. Over 1,000 hippos and crocodiles are estimated in the river and associated lakes. There are herds of buffalo, elephant, zebra and the coastal race of topi and other wildlife in the palm woodland on the edge of the delta. The Tana River Red Colobus, one of the world’s most endangered primates, is found in some riverine forest fragments. Marine turtles nest along the beaches, and three different species of true eels have been recorded from the Tana River (Seegers et al, 2003). The mangrove forests play an important economic

role, sheltering fish and shellfish nurseries that nourish the rich fisheries of Ungwana (Formosa) Bay. There are 320 plant taxa in the Lower Tana River; 58 of them tree species, of which two are considered Critically Endangered in a global sense. Twenty one per cent of the plants are of conservation concern, and the area hosts seven plants on the IUCN Red list of threatened species. The discovery of several trees of Cassipourea gummiflua in 2005 was only the second time this species has been recorded in coastal Kenya and possibly only the third time in Kenya (Luke et al, 2005).


Three shark species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix 1 have been recorded in the Tana Delta. The sharks enter estuaries occasionally, and their populations are greatly impacted by habitat degradation (Nyingi et al, 2007). A further two fish species in the Delta are Red-listed as

data deficient. Three important amphibians include the endemic Tana River caecilian, Boulengerula denhardti and the near-endemic mud-dwelling caecilian Schistometopum gregorii. Reptiles in the Delta include the nearendemic Tana writhing skink Lygosoma tanae and the Ngatana or mabuya-like writhing skink Lygosoma mabuiiformis (Malonza et al, 2006).

Water birds found in globally important numbers in the Tana Delta in 1992-3 (more than 1% of biogeographic populations):

Water birds known to nest in Tana Delta heronry: African Darter Black-crowned Night Heron Black Heron Squacco Heron Little Egret Yellow-billed Egret Great Egret Grey Heron Purple Heron African Open-billed Stork Sacred Ibis Glossy Ibis African Spoonbill

Great White Pelican Pink-backed Pelican Cattle Egret Yellow-billed Egret Great Egret African Open-billed Stork African Spoonbill Greater Flamingo Spur-winged Goose White-fronted Plover Lesser Sandplover Little Stint Curlew Sandpiper Marsh Sandpiper Sooty Gull Slender-billed Gull Gull-billed Tern Caspian Tern Lesser Crested Tern Saunders’ Tern

Globally-threatened Birds in Delta: Hooded Vulture (endangered) White-backed Vulture (endangered) Rüppell’s Vulture (endangered) Basra Reed Warbler (endangered) Lappet-faced Vulture (vulnerable) White-headed Vulture (vulnerable) Madagascar Pratincole (vulnerable) Bateleur (near threatened) Southern Banded Snake Eagle (near t.) Pallid Harrier (near threatened) Martial Eagle (near threatened) African Skimmer (near threatened Eurasian Roller (near threatened) Malindi Pipit (near threatened) Tana River Cisticola (data deficient) Regionally-threatened birds: African Darter Great Egret Saddle-billed Stork Scaly Babbler

African skimmers. PHOTO: P. USHER


1.2.2 Socio-economic Importance

Mt Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges, which are both gazetted and protected areas, are the main water towers of the River Tana catchment, providing 49% and 44% of the region’s waters, respectively. The remaining 7% is provided by Nyambene Hills and other minor catchments. Tana Catchment holds 33.5% of the national safe yield for surface water and 23.8% of the national safe yield for groundwater. The upper Tana River catchment provides about 70% of Kenya’s hydropower and 80% of the water consumed in Nairobi City, the Kenyan capital (Water Resources Management Authority, 2009). The Delta is especially important as a dry season and drought refuge grazing area for pastoralists. Economic use of the Tana Delta by traditional economic systems includes: Dry season and drought refuge grazing for enormous herds of cattle from Tana River, Lamu, Garissa, Kilifi and other counties. The following have been recorded: 335,000 cattle; 260,000 sheep; 360,000 goats; 57,000 camels; 19,000 donkeys; and 105,000 chickens, among others (Nature Kenya, 2008b). In drought seasons more than a million head of cattle have been estimated in the Delta.

1.2.3 Tana Delta Communities

The core area of the Tana River Delta comprises land within Tana River and Lamu Counties and the total population of this area is in the region of 102,000 (Odhengo et al, in press b). The delta is sparsely populated and inhabited by three major communities comprising of Pokomo farmers (44%), Orma pastoralists (44%) and Wardei pastoralists (8%). Other ethnic groups (Bajuni, Luo, Luhya, Boni, Somali, Giriama, Wataa/Sanye, Malakote and Munyoyaya, among others) account for the remaining 4%. Luo and Luhya are fresh water fishermen. The Delta has a high prevalence of poverty, estimated at 76% compared with a national average of about 50%.

in access to land and water due to large scale developments from which they do not benefit, and a decline in land quality (from deforestation and overgrazing). These have led to a reduction in cattle and crop productivity whilst the population is increasing. Most produce is consumed domestically, leaving little for income generation. This has led to escalating conflict between farmers and pastoralists. Life for the fisherfolk is also becoming increasingly hard. Around lake Moa the number of fishermen has risen from 42 (2006) to 130 in 2012. Household size has increased to 6-12 while catch size has reduced from 10-12kgs a day to 0-2kgs/day (Nature Kenya, 2012). Communities have limited capacity to increase productivity of remaining land and resources. Adoption of technology that could increase productivity (including irrigation and control of soil erosion), market value, or diversification is low, and organisation and collaboration, which could decrease production costs whilst maximising yields and access to markets, is very limited. Over the past decade, conflicts have been increasing in the Tana River Delta as a result of increasing population, competition for land, land-based resources and access to water, and encroachment into fragile ecosystems. These conflicts are compounded by lack of a general framework to guide decisionmaking on development of the Delta. This has compromised natural resource conservation efforts and community interests. The challenges facing the Delta require a coordinated approach to planning and management of the resources in the Delta.

Large and small scale irrigation farming takes place in the Tana Delta. Large herds of cattle graze in the Delta during the dry season. In addition, a number of projects within Kenya’s Vision 2030 are planned within the Delta and its catchment. The Tana Delta communities face the same problems: erratic rains and drought, a decline


An Orma boy. PHOTO: C. S. OWEN

CHAPTER CHALLENGES FACING THE TANA RIVER DELTA A Strategic Environmental Assessment conducted for the Tana Delta (Odhengo et al, 2014) highlighted the following as the key issues affecting the long term conservation of the delta.


Release of water from the main dam will be timed to generate hydro-electricity during evening peak demands. Capacity will initially be set at 500 MW, rising to 700MW as demand increases. According to the feasibility study, the diurnal pattern of water release threatens to create major changes to the hydrology of the River Tana, so the consultants have proposed construction of a second impounding reservoir, to convert the daily flows into a seasonal pattern of discharge more suited to meeting the needs of irrigation, water supply and environmental protection. This reservoir would not be completed until 2027, when the second phase of power production is commissioned (Odhengo et al, in press a).

2.1 Key Proposed Projects in the River Tana Catchment and Delta

The Kenya Vision 2030 is the development blue print for the country which was launched in 2008 to help the country to transform to a middle income and newly industrialized country by the year 2030 (Odhengo et al, in press a). The vision is anchored on 3 pillars namely political, economic and social pillars. A number of Vision 2030 flagship projects will greatly impact on River Tana and Tana Delta including the Lamu Port-South SudanEthiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), Tana Delta Irrigation project (TDIP) and the High Grand Falls Dam.

The High Grand Falls Dam is designed to bridge the current gap in power generation on the Tana River which arises during the dry season when the ‘normal’ rainy season output of 572 MW drops to around 125 MW. During this period of about 5 months, it would be necessary to release water from the new dam at the rate of 170m3/s which is more than 2,000Mm3, or 40% of the Tana River’s annual flow. An even larger capacity would be required to meet dry year conditions (Odhengo et al, in press a). A critical question that is raised by the size and scale of the HGF Dam is how releases will be managed during the filling stages when the reservoir will take a number of years to fill (Odhengo et al, in press a).

The Tana River catchment plays an important role in the national economy through provision of electricity. There are many hydro-generation plants constructed on the Tana River with the main power plants located in the Seven Forks within the middle catchment. There are plans to construct another 5 billion cubic metre multipurpose dam named the High Grand Falls as Kenya seeks to increase her hydropower capacity, provide water for irrigation, domestic use and supply the upcoming Lamu Port (Odhengo et al, in press a).

Proposals set out in the Feasibility Study Main Report are for the development of up to 100,000 ha of irrigated land in three stages (Odhengo et al, in press a). The High Grand Falls Dam is envisaged to have a major role in regulating flooding in the River Tana although, given the paucity of information on the underlying causes and characteristics of flooding events, it is not possible to say how successful this role might be (Odhengo et al, in press a).

2.1.1 The High Grand Falls Dam

A major feasibility study was completed by consultants in February 2011, for construction of the High Grand Falls Dam and Reservoir. This project has been contemplated for more than fifty years and will form the largest impoundment on the Tana River, with a lake covering 160 km2 at top water level, and a storage capacity of five billion m3, more than the annual discharge of the River Tana (Odhengo et al, in press a). Four objectives have been set for the High Grand Falls Dam: increase power generation, develop irrigation, manage floods on the River Tana and provide drinking water supplies.


2.1.2 Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) and Associated Infrastructure

There are proposals to divert bulk water to Lamu for all purposes other than irrigation and livestock development. This is in particular due to the proposed development of a port under Lamu Port - South Sudan - Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project and an industrial complex in Lamu County (Odhengo et al, in press a). The new port and associated infrastructure at Magogoni on the mainland near Lamu constitutes another of the major flagship proposals set out in Vision 2030 (Odhengo et al, in press a). This is a very long term vision to transform the economy of Northern Kenya by developing a Lamu Port - South Sudan - Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) and it is, potentially, one of the largest infrastructure projects on the African continent (Odhengo et al, in press a). Consequently, the plans pose both major opportunities but also great challenges for the region. Water is one of the key resources that will need to be sourced in order to achieve the vision. A preliminary feasibility study was completed in 2011 outlines the many components of the scheme including the new port, international corridor (Road, rail and oil pipeline), industrial and economic exclusion zone, oil refinery, municipal city, resort city and new international airport (Odhengo et al, in press a). The proposed Lamu Port will be located approximately 80 kilometers from the Tana River Delta. Construction has already started.

2.1.3 The Scramble for Land for Commercial Farming

Box 1 gives a summary of proposed large scale agricultural projects and other types of investment that constitute land grabbing in the Tana Delta. Demand for large chunks of land for commercial activity started in the 1980s and 90s. However it was not until 2007 that a real scramble for land hit the Tana River Delta with national and multinational corporations and national governments jostling to exploit the potential riches of the delta. The corporations seek more than 300,000 ha of land in the Delta and outlying terraces. In a survey carried out by Odhengo et al (in press b) the tendency for major development to occur without adequate consultation and with


Earth moving machinery at the defunct Bedford Biofuels jatropha farm. PHOTO: F. KAGEMA

disregard for the ownership and access rights of the communities was highlighted in over 50% of 106 village meetings.

2.2 Institutional Governance of Natural Resources and Development is Uncoordinated

Although 14 government institutions are involved in the management of the Tana Delta and significant legislation and policy are in place at the national level to guide sectoral developments, e.g. water, agriculture and mineral resources policies, the development agenda in the Delta remains largely uncoordinated. With no coherent framework to guide strategic planning in the Delta, conflicts over resources are inevitable and have already arisen between local agriculturalists, pastoralists and large-scale agricultural schemes. Moreover, government institutions, civil society and the private sector have had little constructive dialogue about the future of the Delta. The situation is currently exacerbated by a multitude of large-scale, potentially conflicting development proposals. Even if only a few of these are approved, they will heavily reduce water supply and quality in the delta, reducing water and fuel (wood) supplies, livelihood options and incomes of the most vulnerable local people, as well as reducing resilience to climate change. However, consultation is expected to improve following the outcome of a court case filed by communities in 2010. On 9th August 2010 communities living in the Tana River Delta went to the High Court seeking orders against all the planned projects in the Delta. Representing the communities were three farmers, three pastoralists, three fishermen and three conservationists.

Text Box 1: Summary of Proposed Development Projects in the Tana Delta There are a number of worrying developments that are currently proposed or ongoing in the Tana River Delta and its catchment. The most advanced ones are: Ongoing Projects The Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) was allocated 40,000 ha of land to grow maize and rice for food security. In the first phase of this project, the crops are grown mainly north of the River Tana near Gamba, using the water diversion originally built for the 1990s rice scheme. A power transmission line was built from Rabai near Mombasa to Lamu Port. The line of pylons unfortunately pass through Witu Forest. Proposed Projects Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) Ltd. and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), in a planned public-private joint venture, propose to turn 20,000 hectares of the Delta into sugarcane for sugar and ethanol. Another sugar scheme is proposed by Mat International, which would take up more than 30,000ha of land in Tana Delta and another 90,000ha in adjacent Lamu and Garissa Counties. The government reportedly cancelled this company’s land titles. Galole Horticulture Project: This is a Kenyan owned firm and claims to have been allocated 5000 ha of TANA Delta land by the County Council. The project has cleared some land for maize production. Flow Energy, an Australian company, in early 2010 proposed to explore for gas and oil in the Delta. This project had NEMA’s consent to proceed. Flow Energy (formerly Gippsland Offshore Petroleum Limited) was taken over by FAR Limited in October 2011. According to the company’s website, FAR has a 60% equity position and is the operator in block L6, and has a 30% equity position in the L9 block. L-6 covers an area of 3,134km2.. The L6 permit has both onshore and offshore potential with water depths varying from shallow transition zones to approximately 400m. In 2012, FAR completed a 778km2 3D seismic survey over the L6 permit offshore Kenya. The survey was conducted by Fugro Geoteam. Combined prospective resources for the L6 block have been assessed at 3.7 billion barrels of oil or 10.2 trillion cubic feet of gas (un-risked, best estimate). By the time of going to press, FAR was looking for a partner to fund and potentially operate the first exploration well. Failed Projects Bedford Biofuels, a company incorporated in Canada, entered into 45-year lease agreements with six ranches with a combined area of 164,000ha. Bedford Biofuels received NEMA’s consent to grow Jatropha curcas in some 10,000 hectares as a ‘pilot’. Following advocacy by conservation organizations in Kenya and Canada, the company appears to have ceased their Kenyan operations. The UK based G4 Industries, a company awarded a licence to cultivate oil and seed crops west of the river, pulled out of the area in July 2011 citing technical issues with the soil type, long term climate change effects and government mismanagement of the Delta’s resources. However the company still holds the more than 28,000 hectares of land it leased from the community. In May 2011, auctioneers advertised the sale of 9,568 ha of land in the Lower Tana Delta. This is the land owned by Coastal Aquaculture Ltd., a company that proposed to farm prawns in the early 1990s but was stopped by community and environmentalists’ campaigns. It is not clear who bought the land. The Kenya Forest Service published a notice to the public that part of the land up for auction was a gazetted forest. Reported but not Confirmed Projects Press reports in 2010 suggested that the Kenya Government was in negotiation with the Emirate of Qatar to lease 40,000 ha for a period of 80 years in exchange for US$ 3.5 billion loan to be used for construction of Lamu Port. Now that Lamu Port and the LAPSSET corridor are funded by China and Chinese companies, the land lease may no longer be under discussion. Extraction of titanium and other minerals from the sand dunes of the Delta had been proposed by Tiomin Kenya Ltd. This company has since become Base Titanium, an Australian company with a good environmental record. The Tana Delta area was declared to be a land adjudication zone. However, only the beach plots and other prime land were allocated, allegedly to influential people, while local people remained squatters on the remaining land.


Respondents in the court case included: the Attorney General, National Environment Management Authority, Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), Tana River County Council, Commissioner of Lands, Water Resources Management Authority and Mumias Sugar Company. Nature Kenya and the East African Wild Life Society helped to offset costs of the court case. The local communities were requesting the court to compel the respondents to develop, in consultation with all stakeholders, a comprehensive master plan for land use, development, livelihoods and ecological protection of the Delta.

but the country will also be exposed to higher temperatures and high levels of evaporation (Peter Odhengo et al, 2014b). The amount of water flowing in the River Tana and available for use is unlikely to increase but the demands upon the river are growing very rapidly. Exploitation of water resources in the upper catchment, through dam construction and diversions, has already led to a significant change in river flow. The frequency and duration of major floods has been reduced, while there has been some small increase in minimal flows during the dry seasons as a result of increased storage and daily releases from existing upstream dams. Dam construction in the upper catchment has greatly reduced the sediment load carried by the River Tana which reduces the amount of silt reaching the Delta. This in turn leads to a reduction in soil fertility.

On 4th February 2013 the High Court in Nairobi ruled largely in favour of the community petition. The High Court ruled that there was a need to have one agency to oversee the development of the Tana Delta. It further ruled that TARDA (one of the respondents) develop, with full participation of the community and other stakeholders who have interest in the Tana Delta, short, medium and long range land use development plans for the Tana Delta where projects are to be carried out. This was to be done within 45 days of the ruling date. The Court also ordered periodic reviews of land use development plans.

Some very ambitious projects are planned in the region, including the High Grand Falls Dam, Lamu Port - South Sudan - Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) (see above), and extensive irrigation. In theory, all of these uses could be accommodated, but only if a large regulating reservoir is built, as an integral part of the first phase of the High Grand Falls Dam in the middle River Tana Basin, in which surplus water can be stored until it is needed. There are currently no firm plans to build this storage reservoir and without it water development upstream will have serious impacts on the lower River Tana and the Tana Delta (Peter Odhengo et al, 2014b).

2.3 Insufficient Employment Opportunities and Income for Communities

The major sources of income for local communities include pastoralism, agriculture, fisheries and natural resource harvesting. These have the potential to deliver more employment and higher income. However, locally developed, small scale, high value agriculture requires good production methods, processing facilities (e.g. abattoirs, milk processing plants, fruit juice factories) and training in business skills. The Tana Delta is close to tourism centres and its rich cultural diversity, wildlife and landscapes are spectacular and represent potential gains to local people and Kenyans at large but these opportunities are not being maximised. Diversifying income streams using local sustainable resources is possible, but requires initial planning, capital investment, support and training

2.5 Resource Use Conflicts

Over the last decade, resource use conflicts in the Delta have escalated to deadly levels with disastrous consequences, as demand for competing land uses, natural resources, nature conservation and community interests have intensified. The conflicts – human versus wildlife, pastoralists versus farmers, local pastoralists versus pastoralists from outside, large scale developers versus community and conservationists – are likely to increase as demands on River Tana for power generation, irrigation farming and water for domestic and industrial use in Nairobi city, Lamu port and other settlements along River Tana increase. The impacts of climate change and absence of land use framework compound the escalating conflicts. Access to water has been a major contributory factor to the 2012-13 conflicts in the Tana Delta as some sections of the pastoral and farming communities have fought over

2.4 Diminishing Water Resources

Kenya is expected to experience a slight increase in the amount of rainfall over the next 50 years as a result of climate change


2.8 External Investment

access to the river and the damage caused to crops by both livestock and wild animals. These problems become particularly acute during the dry seasons when very large numbers of cattle are driven from arid areas to the Delta in order to find grazing and water.

The social, economic and environmental challenges outlined above require that strategies, projects and investments are developed for the benefit of Tana Delta communities and the nation as a whole. The Tana Delta contains exceptional resources and should be managed and exploited sustainably. Unfortunately, many previous proposals for investments have been conceived largely for the benefit of external interests, whether of the state or private business. These development strategies had three major failings in common. Firstly, they ignored the hydrological constraints imposed by the River Tana’s flood regime. Secondly, they assumed that the land was vacant and ignored the existing rights and occupation of land by local people, and thirdly they ignored the symbiosis which exists between human activity, land use and the outstanding natural environment of the Delta.

2.6 Population Dynamics

The population of the Tana Delta has increased significantly in the last 40 years and will continue to rise over the next four decades unless measures are taken to encourage voluntary family planning and to discourage the number of people who are migrating into this coastal region in search of land and the prospect of work. Detailed analysis through the use of scenarios and SEA (in press) has shown that the area of the Delta could not support a trebling of population from around the current 100,000 to over 300,000 by 2050 without fundamental changes in lifestyle and the destruction of the area’s unique habitats and environment. Even a doubling of the population, which is expected to occur by 2035, would greatly add to conflicts over diminishing natural resources and conflicts over rights to land and water.

In 2011 Nature Kenya successfully lobbied the Kenya Government to initiate the formulation of a Land Use Plan for the Tana Delta. The Tana Delta Land Use Plan seeks to provide major development opportunities within a framework in which the overall resources of the Delta are managed sustainably. The Land Use Plan is discussed in the Responses section of this booklet.

2.7 Local Communities are not Represented in Governance Processes Affecting the Delta

Local communities are aware of the negative impacts of uncoordinated development; for example, the failed Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) irrigated rice scheme in the 1990s left a legacy of poverty and environmental damage. However, the communities are largely unorganised, especially the most isolated and marginalised, and their views on development proposals do not have formal recognition within the decision-making process.

2.9 Social and Cultural Influences

The diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures of the Tana Delta communities add greatly to its special qualities and in accordance with the Constitution they should be respected and protected. However, future demands for resources within the growing population will mean that some changes in lifestyle are inevitable. Change is also necessary in order to combat severe poverty and to provide better education and health facilities for all. The need for these lifestyle changes will need to be addressed by all members of the community in overcoming local rivalries which can lead to conflict.

Historically, many decisions on land use in the Tana Delta were taken without regard for the interests of the resident population and the local communities who have held the land in trust for generations. This has resulted in large areas of the Delta being held in disputed ownerships and a lack of transparency over land rights and development proposals.

2.10 Climate Change

The Tana Delta already experiences wide fluctuations in climatic conditions, including pronounced flooding and droughts. The floodplain may be flooded from rains in the highlands carried by the river, while drought conditions exist at the Coast, as happened in 2012. The immediate coastline can receive

Communities now have a stronger voice as a result of the ruling in the court case filed by Tana Delta communities (see 2.2. above)


more than 600 mm of rainfall in a year while only 50 km inland rainfall may be less than 300 mm. Local people are well adapted to coping with climatic fluctuations on a seasonal and annual basis. However it is possible that global warming and rising sea level will start to have a significant impact on the Tana Delta. In the next 20 years there may be more prolonged rainfall and flooding events. Conversely, the building of High Grand Falls Dam may temporarily halt the flow of the river. In the next 40 years a possible increase of 15-25 cm in mean sea level could seriously reduce the scope of farming on those parts of the lower floodplain lying within 20 to 30 km of the coast.

following challenges are faced within the Tana Delta: • Destruction and loss of some key habitats (such as forests) as a result of overexploitation, poor land use practices, encroachment and unplanned and unregulated human settlement, and unsustainable agricultural development. • Declining water quality due to increased pollution and siltation from the upper catchment. • Inadequate communication, education and awareness on delta management issues • Uncoordinated research and monitoring programmes that do not adequately inform the management of delta resources on issues affecting them. • Inadequate mechanisms to address risk management issues affecting the delta such climate change, drought, floods and tsunami and storm surges. • Inadequate partnership and cooperation between government, private sector and non-governmental organizations. • Inadequate actions to preserve and conserve natural and cultural heritage within the delta ecosystem.

2.11 Change in the Ecological Conditions of the Delta

The international value of the ecology of the Tana Delta has been recognised in its identification as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and designation as a Ramsar site (wetland of international importance) by the Kenyan Government. Ramsar sites should be managed in accordance with the principle of wise use (essentially sustainable development). However, the

The Tana River. PHOTO: C. S. OWEN


CHAPTER RESPONSES TO CHALLENGES FACING THE TANA RIVER DELTA Nature Kenya has over the years adopted various advocacy strategies for the conservation of Kenya’s Important Bird Areas. The Tana Integrated Sugar Project came to the public limelight in late 2007. In a planned joint venture, Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) Ltd and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), were proposing 20,000 ha of irrigated sugarcane production, together with sugar and ethanol plants in the midst of the Tana River Delta.


any permitted developments in the Delta, which will need to be designed to ensure the integrity of the Delta. 3. That an appropriate government agency takes the lead in facilitating the formulation of a Conservation and Development Master Plan for the Tana Delta. This Plan is to be drawn up in consultation with other Government agencies and stakeholders. The Plan must include an economic assessment of the local, national and global environmental values of the Tana Delta. 4. That TARDA and Mumias Sugar Company take the brilliant opportunity to create a truly “green” development by supporting the gazettement and management of large parts of the Tana Delta as conservation areas, and tailoring development activities to small schemes that will directly benefit the local people, and maintain the hydrological and ecological integrity of one of Kenya’s most important natural assets.

At the time Nature Kenya and other Kenyan and international non-governmental organizations were involved in a protracted campaign against proposed soda ash mining in Lake Natron in Tanzania. The Lake Natron case was the first major intensive advocacy campaign that Nature Kenya engaged in. The Lake Natron case provided valuable lessons that we applied to the Tana Delta. Some of the strategies that were applied in the campaign for the conservation of the Tana Delta include:

3.1 Framing the Issue and Taking a Stand on the Tana Delta Developments

The Tana Integrated Sugar Project was a sugar and biofuel project. This brought an international dimension to the campaign by targeting European Renewable Energy policies and brought European non-government organizations (NGOs) into the campaign. What started as an advocacy campaign against one sugarcane project would soon grow into a much bigger issue in the next four years as company after company, the Kenyan government and international governments identified the Tana River Delta as the preferred investment site for large scale commercial farming and mining.

Early on in the campaign Nature Kenya took a decision on the path of the Tana Delta campaign. At this time the only proposal on the table was the sugarcane project proposed by Mumias Sugar and TARDA. A key decision that Nature Kenya took that critically influenced the campaign was to have a consistent message on the matter. This key message has not changed much to date: 1. That the Tana Integrated Sugar Project as proposed be rejected. Later on when other development proposals came on board our stand was that all large scale commercial developments in the Delta be rejected until the government put in place an agreed land use planning framework, in consultation with all stakeholders. 2. That the government takes the lead, through appropriate agencies, in listing the Tana River Delta under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, for which it is unquestionably qualified. This would set the stage for

3.2 Pooling Numbers for the Campaign 3.2.1 BirdLife International Partnership

Nature Kenya is the BirdLife International Partner in Kenya. Lacking experience in campaigns, Nature Kenya greatly benefited from crucial technical advice from the BirdLife fraternity notably the Global and Africa regional Secretariats and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – the BirdLife


Partner in the United Kingdom. When the Tana Delta campaign started in 2007-8 Kenyan conservation organizations lacked funds to carry out basic activities such as calling coordination meetings or press conferences. Later on in the campaign the NGOs lacked litigation costs. At the very beginning of the campaign in 2008 small funds came from BirdLife Partners: the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), DOF (BirdLife in Denmark), NABU (BirdLife in Germany) and Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS/BirdLife Schweiz (Swiss BirdLife Partner). Without this financial support the campaign would have faced crippling fundamental problems at the kickoff stage.

KWF to front the campaign. This made it a campaign of more than 50 organizations and no single organization would be an easy target for a developer or powerful political interests. The KWF coalition also helped to bring on board a wealth of ideas, especially from people who had worked in the Tana Delta for long periods of time. KWF also provided opportunities for division of labour for the enormous task at hand. It should be noted that while the campaign remained under the KWF umbrella, Nature Kenya provided crucial support, ensuring actions were followed up and often met costs of the campaign. Nature Kenya designated an officer to be the nerve center of the campaign.

3.2.2 Local Partners

3.3 Engaging Local Communities

The East African Wild Life Society, also a membership conservation organization in Kenya, had been involved with environmental issues in the Tana Delta for decades. A Rocha Kenya, a Christian conservation organization with an office at the Coast, had conducted water bird counts in the Delta since 1999. When Nature Kenya joined forces with them, commenting on the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Tana Integrated Sugar Project and writing letters to the Government, the effort became a more powerful voice. The three partners have worked together since then, as well as with the National Museums of Kenya, who provide invaluable technical information.

From the beginning it was obvious that communities were not aware of the full scale of impacts of the Tana Integrated Sugar Project. Some local community-based organizations had been facilitated to submit written comments to the National Environment Management Authority. However the communities were far from organized. Farmers believed that the project was beneficial to them while pastoralists were clear from the start that the project was not good for them. Farmers and pastoralists in Tana Delta have deep-seated historical ethnic differences which were being exploited for the benefit of projects. Therefore Nature Kenya teamed up with the East African Wild Life Society to conduct village to village awareness on the actual impacts of the sugarcane project on communities and livelihoods. People in many villages were not even aware that they would be displaced. For the first time all communities started to appreciate the fact that the project would seriously adversely affect them.

3.2.3 Kenya Wetlands Forum

The Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF) was started as an advocacy group for the conservation of the country’s wetlands. Its membership comprises more than fifty organizations and individuals. Nature Kenya is one of KWF’s founding members. Formed at a time when it was difficult to register NGOs KWF, like the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), is not registered as a separate non-governmental organization (NGO), but is under the “umbrella” of the East African Wild Life Society. Effectively this made the organization active but intangible. Fortunately Kenya has made great strides in governance and NGOs are now a recognized part of the country’s democracy. KWF’s membership comprises NGOs, community based organizations (CBOs), government institutions and individuals. Right at the start of the Tana campaign, Nature Kenya and the East African Wild Life Society mobilized

3.4 Engaging in EIA Process

Advocacy is a game of numbers. As a strategy conservationists agreed that for every development proposal as many organizations as possible would submit comments to NEMA, instead of submitting a joint document. This strategy, which was initiated in 2008 for the Tana Integrated Sugar Project, was employed for all subsequent development proposals in the Delta. The EIA process offers the first line of intervention in conservation advocacy. EIA is an established legal process offering stakeholders an opportunity to provide input into development proposals. After a while


developers started consulting Nature Kenya at the feasibility studies level, which comes before an EIA is done.

during international environmental meetings. In October 2012 the Tana River Delta was designated as Kenya’s newest Ramsar site.

3.5 Cost-benefit Analysis

3.7 Extensive Publicity and Media Coverage

In April 2008 Nature Kenya and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds commissioned a cost-benefit analysis for the Mumias/TARDA sugarcane project. The study showed that the project documents underestimated the cost of the project, overestimated the profit, and ignored fees for water extraction, compensation for lost livelihoods, chemical pollution and loss of tourism earnings and wildlife. The study, done by Kenyatta University lecturers, showed that annual economic gains from current uses of the Delta by farmers, pastoralists and fishermen stood at Ksh. 3.7 billion (Nature Kenya, 2008b). The sugar and biofuels project would generate Ksh. 1.2 billion annually. The cost-benefit analysis became the single most powerful campaign tool and was widely published by media in Kenya and leading global media including BBC, Reuters and The Economist.

Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority carried out extensive consultations on the Tana Integrated Sugar Project and for obvious reasons conservationists, local communities, and some government agencies were publicly against the project. It therefore came as a shock when on 11th June 2008 the project was given approval to proceed. Nature Kenya led other conservationists in Kenya in conducting extensive media campaigns to create awareness about the matter to Kenyans. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) worked to create awareness in the United Kingdom while BirdLife International sent alerts to the entire partnership in more than 100 countries. BirdLife International and the RSPB prioritized the campaign and put it on their websites and publications. A Rocha Kenya started a website dedicated to the campaign ( A film ‘Is Tana Sugar Really Sweet?’ was produced and distributed to media and online.

3.6 Advocating for the Designation of Tana Delta as a Ramsar Site

It always helps when an area of conservation concern has some designated status that is either recognized in national law or has a widely accepted conservation status globally or regionally. When the Tana Delta campaign started in 2007 the area had only one designation – as an Important Bird Area. The President of Kenya had declared the Delta a wetland of international importance in 1993, but the process of getting Tana Delta listed as a Ramsar site had stalled in the early ‘90s. In July 2008 Nature Kenya supported the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the national Ramsar focal point, to hold a stakeholders’ meeting to jump start the process to get the Tana Delta listed as a Ramsar site. A small team was nominated to fill the Ramsar information sheet and KWS prioritized Tana Delta among sites lined up for Ramsar listing. The Kenya Wetlands Forum continuously provided technical support and followed up with KWS on the progress of the Ramsar listing process in the subsequent years. In addition, BirdLife International prioritized Tana Delta among globally threatened sites and kept the Ramsar Secretariat informed about developments in the Delta, including lobbying for resolutions

3.8 Petitions and Letters

Nature Kenya and other conservation organizations wrote letters to the National Environment Management Authority and the environment ministry with copies to other government agencies, United Nations agencies, diplomatic missions, the project proponents, and relevant government institutions. Supporting documents were sent with the letters, such as comments on EIAs, biodiversity fact sheets and the costbenefit analysis study. Kenyan conservation groups also sent letters to the Ramsar Secretariat. At the international level, BirdLife International partners send letters to the Kenya Government. The RSPB requested its members to write to the Kenya Government, with a good response. Wetlands International and the Ramsar Secretariat also wrote to the Kenyan government.


Text box 2: An Article in The Economist, June 2008

Slippery when wet

Kenya plants sugarcane; America uproots it Jun 30th 2008 | International LAST week Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, announced the purchase of almost 300 square miles of land in the middle of the Everglades from a sugar producer. Rather than building on it, Florida will allow the land to revert into its natural state. On the other side of the world, the government of Kenya said it plans to do exactly the opposite: 80 square miles of the Tana River delta will be dug up by a private company that will grow sugarcane to be turned into biofuel. The Tana delta, which lies 120 miles north of the coastal city of Mombasa and drains Kenya’s longest river, is a mix of savannah, mangrove swamps, forest and beaches. Like the Everglades, this wetland area has unique wildlife; it sustains lions, hippos, reptiles, primates, rare sharks and 345 bird species, as well as thousands of farmers and fishermen. It provides the only dry-season grazing for hundreds of miles around Since 1900, the world has lost roughly half of its wetlands. In the first half of the 20th century, most of this occurred in northern countries, but since the 1950s, tropical and sub-tropical wetlands have faced the axe. This is a shame: not only are wetlands beautiful and rich in biodiversity, they also play vital roles in flood protection, water storage and or water filtration. The wetlands that Florida plans to preserve will not only provide a natural buffer against hurricanes, they will also help provide fresh water to Florida’s growing population. It will also act as a natural filtering system, eliminating the need to pump contaminated agricultural runoff into the Everglades’ Lake Okeechobee. In Kenya, the Mumias Sugar Company boasts about the jobs its project will create and the infrastructure it will improve. Mumias says environmental damage will be limited and income will reach £1.25m ($2.49m) over 20 years. But two environmental NGOs, Nature Kenya and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, estimate revenue from fishing, farming and tourism will provide £30m over the same period, and they worry that Mumias’ project will cause “an ecological and social disaster”. They worry about pollution from farming and heavy drainage of the delta. Their reports say that Mumias’ projections greatly overstate the potential profit, and ignore fees for the use of water. They add that the loss of grazing land will have a huge impact on livelihoods locally, and will result in overuse and increased degradation of remaining grazing lands. Deciding who is right is difficult. US Sugar’s activity in the Everglades shows that planting sugar in wetlands will likely cause huge fresh-water loss. Agricultural pollution may have a wide impact on everything from wildlife to fisheries. So the NGOs are not just being alarmist. What matters most to the governments is the cost-benefit ratio. And here things get really tricky. According to “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”, a new report commissioned by the European Union, the overall economic value of intact wetlands varies widely (from $200 to over $1,000 per hectare per year) depending on surrounding ecosystems. Restoring wetlands, however, is always expensive: in America, where land is costly, it costs between $25,000 and $130,000 an acre So what should the Kenyan government do in the face of fierce opposition from wildlife groups? First, it should commission an independent international company to do both an environmental-impact assessment and a full economic valuation, both of which should be available to the public. If the government finds that leaving the area intact provides more financial benefit than development, it should offer conservationists the option to purchase the land themselves. Alternatively, the government could make sure that the sugar company pays the true cost of the water resources that it removes, the loss of grazing land and, makes amends for any pollution it creates. Developing the Tana River may bring jobs and wealth to the region, just as sugar did for Florida. But if the Kenyans realise that it has enriched a few and impoverished many, it will prove a costly mistake to reverse. And as the region shelters animals threatened with extinction, some aspects of the deal may prove both irreversible and beyond easy valuation.


Apart from letter writing petitions, several online petitions were put up and signatures sent to the Kenya government. Notably, Climate Ark, an American lobby group, on its own initiative launched an online petition against the Tana Integrated Sugar Project through which hundreds of thousands of protest letters were sent to the Kenyan Government and diplomatic missions.

of time the judicial system had serious limitations in this sphere. It was only under the new constitutional dispensation in 2012 that the High Court created a Land and Environment Division. Further not many Kenyan lawyers had competence in this area. 2. Litigation can be quite costly and it is difficult for conservation NGOs to fundraise for it. At times Kenyan conservation NGOs have used pro bono lawyers only to have poorly packaged court cases which are thrown out of court on technicalities. 3. Until recently Kenyan court cases progressed at an excruciatingly slow pace. For instance a court case filed by farmers in Tana Delta against the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) more than 20 years ago is not yet concluded and all but one of the petitioners have reportedly died. However with constitutional and judicial reforms cases are now taking much shorter periods of time.

3.9 Taking Advocacy to Home Countries of ‘Developers’

Taking advantage of the BirdLife partnership, campaigns could be taken to home countries of various developers. For instance, sustained negative media coverage in the United Kingdom may have been a main driver of G4 Industries’ decision to abandon their Tana Delta oil seed project in 2011. Nature Canada (BirdLife partner) created a lot of awareness on the Bedford Biofuels project to grow Jatropha curcas for biofuel in the Tana Delta, including a letter to the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On 11th July 2008, the Tana River Pastoralist Development Organization, Tana Delta Conservation Organization, East African Wild Life Society, Center for Environmental Legal Research and Education and George Wamukoya applied for and got stay orders against the Tana Integrated Sugar Project at the High court in Malindi. This court case was later dismissed on a technicality on 18th June 2009.

By November 2012 the company had reportedly already laid off most workers on its project site in Tana Delta. In January 2013 their website went blank, possibly the latest casualty of hurriedly planned large scale commercial plantations in the Tana Delta.

3.10 Litigation

Many projects in Tana River Delta have faced crippling litigation, with some legal battles going to regional courts, such as the Coastal Aquaculture Ltd Project in 1990s and early 2000s (see text box 3). Litigation is a powerful advocacy tool. It offers an avenue through which contested projects can be temporarily stopped before they start, pending court decisions. In addition, even where courts do not grant stay orders against projects, many investors tend to shy away from investing in a project which is facing litigation. Generally Nature Kenya uses litigation as a last resort. This is mainly because: 1. There has been a lack of expertise in environmental litigation. For a long period

On 9th August 2010 communities living in the Tana River Delta went to the High Court seeking orders against all the planned projects in the Delta. Nature Kenya and the East African Wild Life Society supported legal costs. Representing the communities were three farmers, three pastoralists, three fishermen and three conservationists. Respondents included: the Attorney General, National Environment Management Authority, Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), Tana River County Council, the Commissioner of Lands, the Water Resources Management Authority and Mumias Sugar Company. Kituo cha Sheria – an NGO dealing in legal matters – was an


interested party. The local communities were seeking the court to compel the respondents to develop, in consultation with all stakeholders, a comprehensive master plan for land use, development, livelihoods and ecological protection of the Delta.

other stakeholders who have interest in the Tana Delta, short, medium and long range land use development plans for the Tana Delta within 45 days of the ruling date. The Court also ordered periodic reviews of land use development plans.

On 4th February 2013 the High Court in Nairobi ruled largely in favour of the community petition. The High Court ruled that there was a need to have one agency to oversee the development of the Tana Delta. It ruled that TARDA (one of the respondents) develop, with full participation of the community and

3.11 Face to Face Meetings

Throughout the campaign numerous face to face meetings were held with investors, government officials, County council officials, local communities, and international governance structures such as Members of the European Parliament.

Text box 3: The Coastal Aquaculture Fiasco In 1990 a portion of 20,000 ha was allotted to a group ranch, Kon-Dertu, made up of around 100 people living near the Delta. Kon-Dertu, saying that it lacked the funds to develop the area, promptly sold half the allocation to the Greek owned Coastal Aquaculture Ltd., who intended to develop their piece as a commercial prawn farm (Bennun and Njoroge, 1995). The project never kicked off. Prawn farms are notorious for their extremely negative environmental effects, and the allocation was hotly disputed by many concerned for the conservation of the Delta. Almost a year’s raging controversy culminated in an announcement by Kenya’s President Moi in July 1993 that the Tana Delta should be protected as a wetland of international importance. The land allocation to the company was nullified, and a governmental Tana Delta Wetland Steering Committee set up to develop a management plan. Coastal Aquaculture unsuccessfully claimed $1 billion in damages and loss of income from the Kenyan government. The company was said to have invested $25 million in equity by the time the land was taken away. Before filing the Lusaka case Coastal Aquaculture had successfully contested the government action in the High Court of Kenya in 1996. The company was reportedly frustrated by the government in the Kenyan court systems and finally moved to the regional Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Court in Lusaka. In April 2002 the COMESA Court of Justice referred the matter back to the Kenyan Courts. Part of the regional court’s ruling said “Much as this Court may sympathize with the Respondent regarding the frustration of his projects on the said parcels of land by the Applicants, and the resultant shyness of investor funding for the projects, the Respondent may refer a matter to this Court, and this Court can exercise jurisdiction over such reference, only if the Respondent has exhausted all its remedies in the municipal courts of the particular Member State.” (World Courts, 2002)

A Land Use Planning meeting in session at the Tana Delta. PHOTO: D. MUMBU




The Tana River Delta Land Use Plan promotes regulated access, wise use and improved rangeland management that will lead to improved sustainable livelihoods, security, equity and biodiversity conservation. Agricultural intensification will take into account the Integrated Multiple Land Use Plan (IMLUP), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), indigenous food and livestock systems and enhance agricultural, rangeland and pastoral systems. All this will be done within a framework of increased vegetation cover and fresh water quality, enhancing sustained flow of ecosystem services including biodiversity.

Nature Kenya started working in the Tana Delta in 2007 using a combination of strategies to safeguard ecosystems and enhance community livelihoods. Key successes and lessons learned are outlined below:

4.1.1 Enhanced Safeguards for Natural Resource Management in Tana Delta including Strategic Environmental Assessment and Land Use Plan

Nature Kenya strategy was to use all the above processes to open up space for local community rights and environmental conservation. Nature Kenya believes that the long term solution lies in the formulation of an agreed land use master plan in which local communities have rights to their ancestral land and biodiversity is recognized.

Collaborative planning halted land grabs: No major new threats have been recorded from agricultural interests targeting the delta since 2011. This is a direct result of the campaign Nature Kenya and other conservation groups conducted for the conservation of the Tana Delta for the benefit of local communities and biodiversity. In addition, Nature Kenya catalysed the government to prepare a land use plan for the delta. Since the colonial era the Delta has been considered, erroneously, as a largely undeveloped area which is suitable for agricultural development using water from the River Tana. However, all of the historic schemes for large scale irrigation have been costly failures, because they were designed without proper understanding of the hydrology and with little or no regard for the needs of existing communities. Poor management has also contributed to the collapse of most of these projects. Within the last decade a new threat to the delta has emerged through widespread international interest in exploiting the area’s resources for biofuels and food export schemes.

The growing human population and competition for diminishing natural resources, compounded by the effects of climate change, have necessitated a drastic change in the way we do things. For this reason in July 2011 Nature Kenya successfully lobbied the then Office of the Prime Minister to coordinate the preparation of a Land Use Plan for Tana River Delta. The Land Use Plan was produced through the Ministry of Lands working within an InterMinisterial Technical Committee composed of 18 ministries, international experts and subsequently, with the Governments of Tana River and Lamu Counties. Within the Delta, a Tana Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC), initially consisting of 25 persons, provided an avenue for eliciting the views of local people in the LUP process. Over time the membership of the TPAC progressively grew to 66 after taking into account devolved governance structures.

4.1.2 Enhanced Governance and Social Aaccountability for Sustainable Living

In 2012 government agencies and the TPAC, facilitated by Nature Kenya, carried out consultations in all 106 villages in the Delta. Information gathered in the exercise was incorporated into the Land Use Plan. The plan will guide policy formulation and decisionmaking on future development of the Tana Delta. The Land Use Plan will significantly influence the way land is allocated to various users and interest groups.

With time, Nature Kenya mobilized funding from RSPB, UKaid, the Ecosystem Alliance (IUCN Netherlands, Wetlands International and Both ENDS), among other donors, to fund various programmes in the Tana Delta. These include land use planning, enhancing community governance structures, improvement of local livelihoods and awareness, among others.


Nature Kenya facilitated 38 local community based organizations to form one umbrella group named the Tana Delta Conservation Network (TDCN). TDCN is a Site Support Group* working with Nature Kenya to ensure sustainability in conservation and utilization of the natural resources within the Delta. The group has links with the Tana River County Government and sits in several decision making fora at the county level. The group was recently allotted 4 acres of land by the Tana River County Government for establishment of a honey processing center and resource center.

At the village level Village Land Use Planning (VLUP) committees which also double up as the Village Natural Resource Management Committees (VNRMC) are the focal point for natural resource and land-use management. Nature Kenya recruited 6 village facilitators in target villages to work in liaison with the VLUP and VNRMCs to create awareness on the LUP and SEA process and to mobilize communities participating in nature based enterprises.

Text box 4: Terms of reference for the Tana Planning Advisory Committee Title: The title ‘Planning Advisory Committee” confirms that this group will represent the communities of the Tana Delta in helping to inform the Land Use Planning (LUP) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process on the views of all local communities within the Delta. •

It is emphasised that the role of the Committee is to give advice on the content of the Land Use Plan (LUP) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) based on papers to be presented to it at regular intervals. In this respect the TPAC is mirroring the work of the Inter Ministerial Technical Committee (IMTC) at national level within the Delta.

Specifically, the TPAC does not have a role in initiating activities, preparing budgets or spending funds within the Delta.

Membership: Apart from the District Commissioner, the membership of the committee will be comprised entirely of local representatives from communities within the Delta (with four local Government officers who will attend meetings as observers). Chair and Advisor: The District Commissioner will act as joint chair and advisor to the Committee in order to adjudicate on any internal disagreements and also to give a greater sense of the Government’s commitment to listen to the views of the communities. The position of meeting chairperson will rotate between the different interest groups from one meeting to the next. Frequency of meetings: The TPAC will hold routine meetings at roughly two month intervals to review progress on the Tana River Delta Land Use Plan and give advice on specific outputs. Additional meetings may be called from time to time for specific needs. Work of the Committee: Copies of the papers and documents prepared by the Tana Delta Planning Secretariat will be distributed to Committee members three days in advance of meetings to allow them to prepare for the meeting. The papers and documents will be summarised and presented to the Planning Advisory Committee by a member of the Tana Delta Planning Secretariat. The Committee will discuss the findings of the Land Use Plan and Strategic Environmental Assessment as each draft is prepared and discuss the views coming from the individual communities. Advice of the Committee: The conclusions and advice of the Committee will be recorded by the Secretariat and fed into the overall planning process. Briefing of the Communities: An important role for each individual member of the TPAC will be to act as a guide and instructor within their own community in explaining the role and purpose of the Land Use Plan and Strategic Environmental Assessment. Support for Members: Members of the TPAC will be paid for the actual cost of transport to attend meetings of the Committee (500/- except for the three members from distant communities who will get more). Meetings that require full day attendance will include lunch. There is no provision for a sitting allowance.

*A site Site Supprt Group is an organised group comprising of like-minded local people living in or around an important biodiversity site, interacting with and sustainably using its resources (at different levels), in pursuit of a common interest.


4.1.3 Improved Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods with more than 1,000 Households Directly benefiting and 35,000 ha of Forest Gazetted

(e.g. widows) are not required to repay loans if they are unable or need to sell the produce to meet basic needs such as children’s education/ medical expenses. Learning by doing is a powerful tool especially in communities with low literacy and numeracy levels. Therefore all farmers advance their farming skills at a demonstration plot within the village with training provided by the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Officers. This innovative approach has enabled communities to realise real impacts within the life of the project. For example it would have been a challenge to train communities on the theory of microfinance management so they are learning by doing which is proving to be an effective approach. We supported TDCN to visit other sites outside Tana Delta where there are advanced community microfinance initiatives.

In 2011 Nature Kenya initiated a range of income generating activities that also act as demonstration centres for sustainable production methods, with good results. A new microfinance scheme is managed by Farmers and pastoralists cooperatives, and fishermen’s beach management units. The groups are supported by the Tana Delta Conservation Network (TDCN). The procedure is that all monies repaid in microfinance must be banked in the TDCN microfinance account. TDCN has a microfinance committee to oversee all matters related to financing, reporting back to the TDCN membership. Farmers: First of all just before the planting season starts the Hewani and Wema Farmers cooperatives supported by TDCN and Nature Kenya make a call for farmers to apply for support to plough and/or harrow their land and certified seeds. This call is made in an open air meeting which all villagers are invited to attend. Nature Kenya and the cooperatives developed a standard loan application form which all interested farmers must fill and submit to the cooperatives. Once all applications are submitted the cooperative, TDCN and Nature Kenya subject applicants to a vetting process based on wealth ranking (from socioeconomic baselines carried out in 2011-12), track record (of repayment) and need. Cooperatives support successful applicants through sourcing for tractors which plough/ harrow their land after which the farmer presents an invoice on the cost of ploughing/ harrowing to the cooperative and TDCN who pay the tractor directly. Nature Kenya avails minies to TDCN who then make the necessary payments. We support the cooperatives to procure certified seeds with the guidance of the agriculture ministry. Farmers who apply for seeds simply collect them from the cooperatives. Each applicant signs against their loan and commits to repay at cost. Each farmer has three guarantors who will repay in case of default. The system has worked very well in the two villages. Monies collected are rolled back to support more farmers over and above the project funding. The cooperatives and TDCN are responsible for recovering loans from farmers once crops are harvested. Farmers who are too poor or disadvantaged

Our approach has recorded great success. In April 2013 – March 2014 we supported 55 farmers from Hewani Village with farm inputs. The rest of the farmers who did not receive direct support benefited through learning at the farmers demonstration plot. At the demonstration plot farmers learn to maximize production through ecoagriculture practices such as ridging, use of farm yard manure, soil erosion control and mulching. As a result farmers harvested 64,029.6 kilos of paddy rice. This translated to a total of 38,417.4 kilos of milled rice worth Ksh. 3,073,392. There were unexpected spin offs. In Hewani Village after harvesting rice in November 2013, farmers realized that their farms were in good condition because they had been ploughed and harrowed earlier in the year. Normally farms would remain unutilized waiting for the next rice planting season. However taking advantage of the good condition of the farms, in December 2013 the farmers planted a gap crop of greem grams (lentils) and in February 2014 they harvested 30,819.23 kilograms with a farm gate value of Ksh. 2,003,250 and a market value of Ksh. 3,698,308. Due to our support in Hewani Village the 201314 planting season translated to an annual average income of Ksh. 11,258 per household from rice alone and a further Ksh. 7,338 per household from lentils bringing the total annual average per household to Ksh. 18,596. Even without considering any other crops this accounts for an 86% increase in income from


all farming activities in the village compared to the baseline year (Ksh. 9,995 in 2012). The farmers requested for a rice mill to add value to the rice in Hewani village which we provided. More than 80% of farmers repaid their loans in the form of paddy rice that they harvested. The cooperative milled the rice which it sold for a total of Ksh. 258,035. In addition the cooperative provided rice milling service to villagers and earned Ksh. 91,351. Out of these monies Ksh. 176,000 was used to fully support 32 farmers in the March-April 2014 planting season while the rest was retained for operational costs. Some of the money will also be used to create a reserve fund for projects to be determined by the cooperative in consultation with the community.

tonnes of tomatoes with a farm gate value of Kshs. 960,000; Watermelon – 48 tonnes with a farm gate value of Kshs. 864, 000; 0.28 tonnes of onions with a farm gate value of Kshs. 16, 800 and 1.2 tonnes of kale with a farm gate value of Kshs.48, 000. Overall by April 2014 farmers, fishermen and pastoralists had earned in excess of Ksh. 6.9 million from improved crop yields, milk production, fish farming and honey. More importantly, food security in one of the poorest regions in Kenya has improved. Beekeeping is growing rapidly with plans to build a honey bulking, processing and marketing center in the pipeline. The income generating activities are funded by UKaid and the Ecosystem Alliance.

Pastoralists in Walkon and Onkolde Villages were supported through the construction of cattle dips. The cattle dips target to serve the pastoralist communities within Tana River County, both residents and non-residents, with a view to improving their livestock’s health and productivity. The cattle dip in Walkon Village was commissioned in September 2014. When farmers and pastoralists earn more income from their land and livestock, it reduces pressure on local forests, wetlands and grassland. Pastoralist women were supported to increase income from milk sales through better hygiene practices and access markets outside the Delta.

In 2013 Kenya Forest Service (KFS) gazetted 35,000ha of forest in Tana River Delta. KFS then enlisted the assistance of Nature Kenya in establishing Community Forest Associations* for the sustainable management of the gazetted forests.

4.1.4 Successful Partnerships Built

Over the years Nature Kenya has built wide international and local alliances for conservation of the Tana River Delta. This partnership includes local communities and their leaders, government agencies, nongovernment organizations, donor agencies, researchers and international experts and conservation agencies among others.

Fishermen in Moa Village received support in the form of two fishponds, which act as demonstration centers for fish farming. The fish ponds are managed by the local Beach Management Unit. The first crop of 4,000 fish was harvested from February – August 2014 majorly serving as a source of protein for households. Nevertheless some 155 kilos of fish was sold in local markets earning the community Ksh. 25,650.

A main lesson learnt from our work in Tana Delta, especially in the formulation of the Land Use Plan, is that you need to be working at the national, county and community levels to achieve this kind of change. It is not possible to secure the long-term sustainable management of the Tana River Delta by only working at the community level. It requires, furthermore, an established NGO that is well respected and taken seriously by both Government and Communities. To build these relationships Nature Kenya has worked with communities in the Tana River Delta for the past 7 years and has successfully supported the communities to take the Government to court over land use in the Delta. Nature Kenya has also worked with the Kenyan Government for the past 15 years to implement projects across the country and

There is evidence that the various demonstration centers are providing learning to the wider community over and above the target villages. The Wardei pastoralists from Danisa village keenly watched the farmers field school in neighbouring Hewani and Wema villages. Motivated by what they saw, in 2013 26 youth in Danisa formed a farming group and started growing irrigated vegetables. From April 2013- March 2014 the group harvested 32

*A Community Forest Association is a group of local persons who have registered as an association or other organization established to engage in forest management and conservation.


is a regular member of the Kenyan government delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Being non partisan and employing equal opportunity approaches is critical in a natural resource conflict zone like the Tana Delta. Inclusivity and consultation for all stakeholders is a critical requisite for success.

Tana Delta in 2007 the area had only one designation – as an Important Bird Area. The process of getting Tana Delta listed as a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) had stalled in the early ‘90s. In July 2008 Nature Kenya supported the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the national Ramsar focal point, to hold a stakeholder’s meeting to jump start the process to get Ramsar status for the Tana Delta. A small team was nominated to fill the Ramsar information sheet and KWS prioritized Tana Delta among sites lined up for Ramsar listing. Subsequently, other conservation groups continuously provided technical support. In October 2012 Tana River Delta was designated as Kenya’s newest Ramsar site. The awareness created through the Land Use Planning process for the Tana River Delta had an unexpected outcome when the Tana Delta was listed as no. 14 in the International Deltas Alliance comparative assessment of the vulnerability and resilience of 14 deltas across the globe1.

Even in volatile situations it is possible to get government and communities to achieve their objectives by providing a bridge that brings the two together. Nature Kenya provided a facilitator’s role by negotiating with government and communities separately. The government agreed to do a land use plan for the Delta while communities agreed that the best vision for the Delta will be achieved through a land use plan. Nature Kenya then brought the two sides together and facilitated them to produce a land use plan. To achieve lasting impacts civil society organisations need to commit to work with a particular community for as long as it takes to find real solutions to real problems.

4.2 Lessons Learned from Nature Kenya Work in the Tana River Delta (2007-2014)

4.1.5 National Level Coordination for the Conservation of Major Kenya Deltas Catalysed

The process for the preparation of a Land Use Plan for the Tana River Delta stimulated the formation of the Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee (IMTC) for the Sustainable Management of Kenya Deltas. The IMTC will prepare Integrated Multiple Land Use Plans for all major deltas in Kenya, starting with the Tana River Delta. Kenya has six major deltas: Tana, Yala, Nzoia, Omo, Nyando, and Malewa. In July 2011, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) established an InterMinisterial Technical Committee composed of 18 ministries to coordinate the sustainable management of Deltas in Kenya, starting with the Tana Delta. In this respect the Tana Delta Land Use Plan stimulated a paradigm shift in the management of the country’s deltas. The IMTC has already carried out an assessment of Yala, Nzoia and Nyando River Deltas. The IMTC has already initiated Land Use Planning for Yala Swamp informed by SEA.

4.2.1 A Negotiated Approach is Needed to Enhance Biodiversity Conservation and Community Livelihoods in Difficult Circumstances

Nature Kenya has demonstrated a consciousness of the socio-economic and political realities of the Tana River Delta in our approach and tailored a well-considered response. For many years the Delta was a frontier for conflicts between conservation groups and communities on one hand, and developers on the other hand. However there was little constructive dialogue between the various interests and even less agreement on the way forward. The decision to broker constructive dialogue at community, local government, national government, NGOs, private sector and international governance instruments level was a strong strategy that opened up space for a negotiated agreement on the conservation of the Tana River Delta. It can now be said that though difficult and fraught with challenges, the Nature Kenya approach in Tana Delta has immense potential to significantly improve livelihoods and

4.1.6 Tana Delta Recognized as a Ramsar Site and included in International Deltas Alliance

When Nature Kenya started working in the

1. Delta Alliance is an international knowledge-driven network organization for deltas worldwide. It is a vehicle for increased cooperation between many parties involved in delta management. The Delta Alliance was initiated in 2010 by the Netherlands addressing the need for more international knowledge exchange for improving the resilience of deltas worldwide


economic prospects in the region in a way that promotes environmental and biodiversity conservation.

This process is significantly slower than the alternative approaches of ploughing ahead with consultants or with government only without the involvement of communities. The gains nonetheless are greater through the stakeholder buy-in approach. This simple fact was the make or break of the process. The work to bring the two sides together and on to the same page is a major achievement. Our strategy for the Tana Land Use Plan withstood two great tests: 1. From July 2012-January 2013 some of the worst inter-ethnic violence broke out between farmers and pastoralists. Even though the violent clashes were primarily based on competition for land and water and happened in the midst of the formulation of the Land Use Plan, at no time was the process mentioned anywhere as a contributing factor to the conflict. 2. In March 2013 Kenya conducted national elections that effectively changed the country from a system of centralized government to devolved governance. This happened in the midst of formulating the Land Use Plan. Effectively, planning is a devolved function, and for instance the Tana Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC), which was previously chaired by the District Commissioner, would have to find a new chair from the County Government. In addition the TPAC needed to be expanded to take into account new interests. The complete buy-in of the planning process by the Governments of Tana River and Lamu Counties is a proof of the robustness of our approach. The Land Use Plan is now endorsed (signed) by the governors of Tana River and Lamu Counties.

4.2.2 Efficiency through Innovative Advocacy with Government and Communities

The complex challenges in the Tana River Delta call for innovation, commitment and patience. The Nature Kenya approach in Tana Delta offers interesting learning in relation to the role of civil society in conducting successful advocacy with multiple stakeholders around land use in one of Kenya’s most fragile, environmentally significant and conflict ridden areas. Our approach has potential to reduce inter-ethnic tensions in the region without us getting embroiled in the conflict. The Land Use Plan and the strategy of bringing the government on board and getting the government to take leadership of the process is an innovative and efficient way of bringing stakeholders on board. Various consultations with communities have brought out the fact that the community members consider the Land Use Plan as the most important effort thus far in resolving the conflict between the Pokomo, the Orma and Wardei.

4.2.3 Real Empowerment is MultiPronged and Built on Trust

Nature Kenya has taken a 360-degree approach to the work in Tana Delta and especially the strategy adopted for the formulation of the Land Use Plan. The cornerstone of the success of the Tana River Delta Land Use Plan is the decision for Nature Kenya to ‘lead from behind’. Meaning to influence the process behind the scenes and let the government take the more visible leadership role. For example: in the formulation of the Land Use Plan, the choice to prioritise multi-stakeholder buy-in over speed in concluding the plan was a strong strategy. By making sure the government is on board and on top of the plan, ensuring that consultation in the 106 villages is undertaken and input received from each village, while providing consistent technical support and expertise, ensured the plan has buy-in from several stakeholders. Initially it was thought that consultants would draft the plan which would then be subjected to stakeholder consultations. However even before the process started we realized that there was need for the Land Use Plan to take on a government face coupled with intensive community engagement.

4.2.4 Complex Conservation Problems Cannot be Addressed within a ‘Project Mentality’

The Nature Kenya approach demonstrates that adherence to an approach that will yield results is more important than rushing to meet outputs and deliverables within fixed project time-frames. The Nature Kenya approach to the conservation of the Tana River Delta could not have worked within any one project’s objectives or timeframe. To succeed, we pursued a long term vision within which we tailored different specific projects. A major challenge to ensuring continuous presence on the ground is the fact that our interventions are donor dependent, and projects have very


short time frames. The challenge is to tailor all the various projects to fit within a long term institutional vision.

with the objectives of the DFID-funded project. The village facilitator acts as a liaison person between Nature Kenya project staff, village governance structures and local villagers. Village Facilitators are not Nature Kenya staff. They are volunteers facilitated to enhance village engagement in project activities.

4.2.5 Beneficiary Mentoring, Feedback and Learning

Nature Kenya is closely involved with the community and accessible to it. In so doing, we have built trust and goodwill and fostered genuine partnership. This is particularly critical for the success of our work in the Tana Delta where the communities also have a complex, conflict-riddled relationship. To support a team of staff based in Tana Delta, Nature Kenya works with village facilitators and the Tana Planning Advisory Committee to share information among communities in villages. A village facilitator is an agent of change in the village, who mobilizes villagers to understand and fully participate in conservation and development initiatives in the village in line

A project evaluation commissioned by DFID in June 2013 noted: “the use of the village facilitators is a strong approach in ensuring two way communications between villages and Nature Kenya. However, the challenges the village facilitators face include: misunderstanding by the community on their role and ability, and the high expectations of solving all challenges by Nature Kenya through the facilitators‌ In the same vein, the successes of working with the village facilitators should be documented and analysed as a source of learningâ€?.

Rice planting at a paddy in Hewani village. PHOTO: E. UTUMBI




Women sorting vegetables at Moa village. PHOTO: G. ODERA

Civil society has an indispensable role in the conservation of biodiversity in the developing world. Third world governments are under increasing pressure to develop and sometimes decisions do not take into account environmental concerns. Human population growth, speculation and financial markets have fuelled global demand for agricultural land for food and biofuels. This presents a major threat to areas of high biodiversity values in Africa such as the Tana River Delta. Civil Society has to adapt new strategies to cope with mounting pressures on biodiversity. In Kenya over the last decade civil society organizations have had to come up with new strategies and venture into unchartered waters to stand up against potentially destructive development proposals. The best time of intervention is before projects start otherwise it becomes difficult to stop them. Due to civil society campaigns the Tana Delta has so far been spared widespread environmental damage. However immense challenges remain and until the agreed land use framework for the Tana Delta is adopted and mainstreamed into county development policies the future of the Delta remains uncertain.

Investing in sustainability is of more importance than rushing to deliver project activities. At the national level in Kenya a combined Land Use Plan and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a new initiative. The Government and Nature Kenya staff are benefiting by actually delivering the SEA and Land Use Plan (LUP), as opposed to the initial plan of using consultants only. This has contributed to the capacity building of government officers who will be conducting the SEA and LUP for five other Kenya Deltas starting with Lake Naivasha and Yala swamp. Time spent building governance structures is time well spent. Nature Kenya has invested significant time in establishing structures to enable the participation of communities. For example, the TPAC is the local institution that directly provides community input into the SEA and LUP. TDCN provides a vehicle for Tana Delta communities to link with the county government. Governance structures established at village level are instrumental in creating awareness on natural resource management, LUP, SEA and nature based enterprises.


CHAPTER RECOMENDATIONS The Tana River Delta Land Use Plan work is in the eyes of many community members the most tangible prospect they have had for managing, if not resolving, the conflicts over the delta. There is a lot of hope riding on its conclusion and implementation. Nature Kenya has played an important role. Nature Kenya needs to continue to push the implementation of the Land Use Plan.


that need to be supported and sustained. This may well include more intensive advocacy work on the Land Use Plan and with the county administration to make commitments towards supporting the work that has started. Linking community groups to other national funds such as the Women’s Fund or the Youth Fund may provide alternative sources of funding – although getting money through these sources tends to be highly competitive and hard.

The livelihoods approach and Land Use Plan work are promising initiatives in a region of deep poverty levels and volatile intercommunity conflict. However, the communities require knowledge-building opportunities in view of the changes brought about by the 2010 Constitution and on what they should expect from their regional governments as well as from devolved funding for development. There is need to build a consciousness and an advocacy capacity within the community that would enable community members to demand more from their county (and national) government representatives.

Nature Kenya is making an important contribution to the lives of farmers, fisher folk and pastoralist communities and their dependants in the Tana Delta. The long term aspiration and intended impact focuses on livelihoods improvement, land use plan and conflict management work that is taking place, leading to local community control and management of the Delta’s resources. Nature Kenya’s approach is context-conscious, result-focused and has found resonance with the communities. Greater consideration should go towards addressing advocacy capacities of the community and sustainability through government involvement in supporting and promoting livelihoods initiatives.

The Tana Delta requires long-term engagement. There are delicate conflict issues involved, awareness raising, recovery from setbacks and persistence in livelihood activities

Women from Walkon village receive milk processing. PHOTO: D. MUMBU


REFERENCES Bennun, L. and P. Njoroge, 1999. Important Bird Areas in Kenya, East Africa Natural History Society. Available at Nature Kenya in electronic form. Luke, Q., R. Hatfield, and P. Cunneyworth., 2005. Rehabilitation of the Tana Delta Irrigation Project Kenya: An Environmental Assessment. Malonza, P.K., V.D. Wasonga, V. Muchai, D. Rotich, B.A. Bwong and A.A. Bauer. 2006. Diversity and biogeography of herpetofauna of the Tana River Primate National Reserve, Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History, 95(2): 95-109 Nature Kenya, 2008a. Brief on Tana River Biodiversity. version/default/part/AttachmentData/data/Tana%20Delta%20Biodiversity.pdf Nature Kenya 2008b. The Economic Valuation of the Proposed Tana Integrated Sugar Project (TISP), Kenya. Nature Kenya, 2012. Moa Village. Fishing and Other Activities Business Plan 2012-2015. Nyingi D.W., J.K. Carlson, C. Matingi and C. Gatune 2007. The Status of Sawfishes (Family Pristidae) on the Kenyan Coast: Effects of Trade, Habitat Destruction and over Fishing. Samaki News Edition 5 (in press). Available at the Ichthyology Dept. National Museums of Kenya. Odhengo, P., P. Matiku, J. Nyangena, K. Wahome, B. Opaa, S. Munguti, G. Koyier, P. Nelson, E. Mnyamwezi, and P. Misati (In press a). Tana River Delta Strategic Environmental Assessment Baseline Report. Published by the Ministry of Lands, Physical Planning Department Odhengo, P., P. Matiku, J. Nyangena, K. Wahome, B. Opaa, S. Munguti, G. Koyier, P. Nelson, E. Mnyamwezi, and P. Misati (in press b). Tana River Delta Land Use Plan Baseline Report. Published by the Ministry of Lands, Physical Planning Department Odhengo, P., P. Matiku, J. Nyangena, K. Wahome, B. Opaa, S. Munguti, G. Koyier, P. Nelson, E. Mnyamwezi, and P. Misati (2014 b). Tana River Delta Land Use Plan. Published by the Ministry of Lands, Physical Planning Department Seegers, L., L. De Vos and D. O. Okeyo 2003. Annotated List of Freshwater Fishes of Kenya excluding the non-riverine Lake Victoria Haplochromines. Journal of East African Natural History 92: 11-47 Water Resources Management Authority, 2009. Tana Water Catchment Area Management Strategy. World Courts, 2002. Kenya v. Coastal Aquaculture, Reference No. 3/2001, Judgment (COMESACJ, Apr. 26, 2002) Coastasl.htm


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Connecting people for change

Tana River Delta: Lessons Learned from Nature Kenya Work 2007 - 2014  

This publication highlights successes and challenges arising from Nature Kenya’s work in the Tana River Delta from 2007 to 2014.

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