Challenge of institutional reform in Kenya’s pastoral areas

Kenya cannot achieve its development targets unless there are appropriate investments in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). Covering two-thirds of the country, the ASALs can make a significant contribution to national development. Failure to integrate them into the national economy is perhaps the main reason for the failure of national development since independence.

Investing in the ASALs is now binding for the Kenyan government according to the new Constitution. The institutional foundations for integrating the ASALs into national development are now in place. What remains to be overcome are the persistent negative narratives about the ASALs that have traditionally held back their development, and for all concerned actors to translate the policy reforms into actual benefits for the ASALs and the country as a whole.

In the 4-page briefing paper “Moving beyond the rhetoric: the challenge of reform in Kenya’s drylands” from the Ford Foundation-funded IIED project “New perspectives on climate resilient drylands development”, Michael Odhiambo from RECONCILE (Resource Conflict Institute, Kenya) argues that development actors need to see the ASALs as areas for development, not humanitarian relief. The newly established structures in Kenya for devolved government require technical and political support. Capacity building for communities and institutions in pastoral areas is essential if they are to effectively engage with the new opportunities. The devolution of financial and human resources needs to follow the transfer of responsibility.

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Posted on 11 August 2013 in Pastoralism, Policy & Power