In August of 2006, EnterpriseWorks/VITA, in partnership with African Wildlife Foundation and local organizations, began a wetlands conservation and economic development project in southern Kenya. The project proposes an initiative to optimize water use and allocation for 845 families on a collectively-owned traditional Maasai group ranch in southern Kenya as a means of addressing a set of complex trade-offs between three viable but competing land use options that depend on the Kimana wetland system - highly-profitable crops in the shorter term; livestock as the traditional economic mainstay; and potentially profitable wildlife over the longer term – while maintaining or enhancing the key resource: the wetland system.
The project, officially titled “Improved Water Management as an Entry Point for Community Livelihood Improvement, Sustainable Land Use Planning, and Institutional Development: optimizing the mix of crops, livestock and wildlife in the Kimana wetlands of the Amboseli ecosystem, southern Kenya”, aims to:
- Establish an effective and efficient institutional and legal framework for integrated management and wise use of wetlands which will provide an enabling environment for the participation of all stakeholders;
- Enhance and maintain functions and values derived from wetlands, protect biological diversity and improve essential processes and life-support systems of wetlands, so as to significantly improve community welfare;
- Promote communication, education and public awareness among stakeholders to enhance their participation in wetland conservation;
- Demonstrate, inform and contribute to ongoing advocacy for a wetlands-focused, fully integrated policy, legal and institutional framework.
The overall objective of the project is to enable and demonstrate community-based improvements in the management of a critical wetland system that result in significantly-enhanced economic, social and ecological outcomes, shared with and replicated by government, water stakeholders and communities.