Evolving customary institutions in Kenya’s drylands

Improved governance of natural resources is crucial for building climate-resilient livelihoods and economies in Africa’s drylands. The paper “Evolving customary institutions in the drylands: an opportunity for devolved natural resource management in Kenya?” (2014, 34pp) examines why the authority and capacity of customary NRM institutions have been weakened, and how this impacts on resource governance and climate resilience. This case study by Daoud Tari and James Pattison, published as an issue paper of the International Institute for environment and Development (IIED) Climate Change Group, looks at a new hybrid form of customary/formal institution that is emerging as a response to the stagnation of development and increasing conflict around resource access. The paper demonstrates that legitimising and supporting customary institutions can be a more successful and sustainable approach to addressing the “drylands development deficit” than projects that focus on technical fixes or work in parallel to customary institutions. It is an example of how partnership between customary institutions and government involves a “relinquishing of control” by government in recognition of the expertise and knowledge of drylands communities in successfully managing highly variable climatic conditions.

Posted on 12 July 2014 in Pastoralism & Natural Resources