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Kenya in Motion 2000-2020

 | 
Marie-Aude Fouéré
, 
Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle
, 
Christian Thibon

Chapter 7

Natural Resources Management in Kenya (Water and Forest)

Centralised Policies, Between Exclusion and Participation of the Local Population

Gaële Rouillé-Kielo
Traduction de Gordana Petrovska Dojchinovska et Alex Lyons

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 As per the Falkenmark indicator (1989), a country is considered to be experiencing “water stress” (...)

1In the eyes of the world, and especially in the West, Kenya is largely associated with its vast savannah landscape and its exceptional, but endangered fauna. The country also regularly attracts the attention of the international media because of extreme weather events, such as the particularly long and intense drought of 2017. In a country already exposed to significant water stress,1 the effects of global warming raise concerns about the potential enhanced frequency and intensity of such events. On the regional and international stage, Kenya occupies a special place in the field of environment protection. Its capital city, Nairobi, is the seat of several regional and international organisations, which are highly influential in the field, such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), established there in 1972.

  • 2 Kenya has 348 protected areas, covering a surface of 75 237 km² (KWTA 2016, 11). Around 8% of the (...)
  • 3 We can point out as an example the Olkaria geothermal station inside the Hell’s Gate park in Naiva (...)

2From the twentieth century, the protection of natural resources in Kenya has been predominantly characterised by the creation of protected areas subjected to more or less strict protection measures, depending on their status. Today, these protected areas cover 12.7% of the total area of the country.2 However, the presence of economic activities and infrastructures in the vicinity of, or even sometimes inside national parks,3 regularly sparks tensions between, on one side, the proponents of strict conservation measures and, on the other, those who support a more flexible approach of natural resources use to enable the economic development of the country.

3In a chapter of the last edition of Contemporary Kenya (1998), entitled “Conservation of natural resources. From exclusion to community involvement,” Jean-Luc Ville presented the evolution of the methods used for the protection of natural resources and pointed to the beginnings of participation of the local populations. In the 1990s indeed, several initiatives supported by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) emerged in order to allow communities living nearby national parks to participate in the development of eco-tourism (Nelson & Agrawal 2008).

  • 4 Translations from French are made by the author.

4The new mantra for “integrated management” of natural resources promoted for several decades on the international scene, which notably encourages involvement of the resource users, has found some favourable echo in Kenya like in many other countries worldwide. The prevailing “integration paradigm” on the international scale along decision-makers and actors of the environment sphere (especially after the publication of the World Conservation Strategy in 1982 by IUCN, UNEP and WWF) corresponds to a “broadening of the objectives for environmental protection towards considerations that are not ecological but more broadly social” (Depraz 2008, 1094). The management models that draw inspiration from this vision encourage participation of local population in conservation projects and favour the delegation of some central government prerogatives to local stakeholders so that decision-making is performed through a bottom-up approach (Rodary & Castellanet 2003). This different approach does not only concern large environmental organisations, but also inspires changes in the national legislative frameworks of countries—Kenya being one of them.

5On the national level, the issue of encouraging stronger involvement of populations in natural resources management was also subject to increasing politicisation in the 1990s as state monopolistic control was being challenged by Kenyan “civil society.” This context also served as a background to the reforms implemented in the 2000s, which were characterised by the willingness to delegate to lower governing levels some prerogatives of the central government with regards to natural resources management.

  • 5 10 months of fieldwork between March 2014 and December 2016.

6In order to explore the new orientations in environmental policies in Kenya from the beginning of the 2000s, this chapter will look into the cases of forest and water resources in particular. These are regularly portrayed as endangered resources due to various pressures linked to demographic growth and hunger for land, as well as to inadequate governance. It will mainly rely on a literature review relating to these questions, as well as on empirical data, which were primarily collected in the region of Naivasha5 and to which reference will occasionally be made. Some information is also drawn from interviews with members of associations and staff members of public institutions. After presenting the evolution of the water and forest resources protection issue, which is strongly linked to political issues, we will question the effects of the reforms in the management policies of these natural resources, and in particular the introduction of water and forest users’ associations.

1. New Political and Ecological Concerns in the Protection of Kenya’s Forests

  • 6 Defined by the authorities as “a forest which has come about by natural regeneration of trees prim (...)

7The forest areas classified as “reserves” are primarily located in the Kenyan highlands, at the heart of the “agriculturally useful Kenya” (Raison 1994), i.e. the area located “between 1,500 and 2,500 metres of altitude [which forms] an ecologically optimal setting for human settlement” (Calas 1998, 17, translated by the author). The forest reserves are therefore in direct proximity to the more densely populated areas of the country since they are among the most watered and fertile areas. These forests, primarily composed of endemic tree species, are qualified as indigenous forests6 (Wass 1995). The usage of resources there is limited to dead wood collection and livestock grazing. Cutting down trees and cultivation are completely prohibited. The management of these areas has become a major ecological and political challenge for Kenya over the last decade, especially after the implementation of the “rehabilitation” programmes for highland forests, often referred to as “water towers.” These programmes are part of the national effort to increase tree cover nationwide.

Putting into Question the Control of the Central Government over the Forests

8After the colonial era, many forest reserves were degazetted in order to authorise the settlement of private individuals or public institutions (schools, hospitals, etc.). Degazettement was done by central governments that took office successively (Boone 2012), but was particularly prevalent under Daniel arap Moi’s mandate (1978–2002). The publication of the Report of the Commission of the Inquiry into the Illegal/Irregular Allocation of Public Land, better known under the name of “The Ndung’u Report” (in reference to the name of its lead author) in 2004, allowed for the magnitude of this phenomena and the direct implication of the ruling class and the central administration to be uncovered (Southall 2005). While the national parks were spared, the forest reserves were subjected to high levels of misappropriation. The report also revealed that the classified forest areas covered only 1.7% of the national territory at the time of the study, compared to 3% in the aftermath of independence. The illegal allocation of forest reserves was especially intense during the 1990s, under Moi, when a period of political liberalisation was beginning (Klopp 2012). The interventionist and predatory attitude of the central government in matters relating to natural resources management is considered to have led to the uncontrolled and unreasonable exploitation of the public forest areas (Constantin 2000; Kariuki 2006; 2007). The denunciation of these irregularities by civil society movements and some influential public figures (such as Wangari Maathai), became a major reason for political mobilisation during the 1990s. Greater transparency was being claimed in the management of these forests, which were increasingly considered as an integral part of the national natural heritage.

A New Environmental Challenge: The “Rehabilitation” of Kenya’s Water Towers

  • 7 This terminology seems to indicate that the protection activities undertaken in these areas refere (...)
  • 8 For example, the Kenyatta government declassified around 6,100 hectares of forest reserves in the (...)

9Since the end of the 1990s, the degradation of forest areas has been highlighted in several reports. Rehabilitating7 them has been part of the main national projects adopted in the field of environment protection for several years now.8 The measures taken to evict people settled in these forests gave this environmental issue a strong political dimension.

Map 1. The main Kenya’s water towers

Map 1. The main Kenya’s water towers

Source: UNEP (2005; 2009); KWTA (2015). Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.

10For over a decade, the main mountain forests in Kenya have commonly been qualified as “water towers” and presented by the authorities as “the fountains of life and lungs of the country” (KWTA 2015, 1). Eighteen forests were gazetted in 2012 and now bear this status (map 1). It is expected that the same will be done for seventy others in the near future. Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau forest Complex, Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills are considered to be the five main water towers of the country. These “Water Mountains” [montagnes d’eau] (Bart 2006) are presented by the authorities and by UNEP as providing considerable support to the economy for water supply in the agricultural, industry and energy sectors (70% of which is of hydraulic origin). The economic losses related to their deforestation are estimated to be around 6 billion KES per year, i.e. over 50 million EUR (UNEP 2012). Moreover, these forests are described as reserves for biodiversity. For several years now, with the development of the policies for combatting global warming, they are also described as “carbon sinks” because they absorb and sequester CO2 (UNEP 2009).

  • 9 Such as coal production, marijuana growing, and exploitation of timber.

11Works led by UNEP then in association with other stakeholders such as the Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG) have relied on the diachronic analysis of aerial or satellite images for analysing the evolution of the forest cover and measuring the type and scope of the human activities that have posed a threat since the end of the 1990s9 (UNEP 1999; UNEP KWS, Rhino Ark & KFWG 2003; KFWG 2004; 2006). Despite the (acknowledged) lack of precision of some of the data gathered, the authors of the most recent report concluded that the Mau forest Complex (considered to be the largest water tower in the country in terms of surface area and because of the number of rivers originating from it) was far from being the most endangered forested area nationwide; they consequently urge the authorities to take immediate action (KFWG 2006). In 2008, the office of the Acting Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) appointed a working group comprised of several national institutions (the KFS, the KWS, the Water Resource Management Authority and the relevant ministerial offices) to address the question. Their report, published the next year, reveals that 107,000 hectares were cleared in fifteen years, which represents 25% of the total surface area of the forest complex. The “rehabilitation” of the Mau Forest entailed the eviction of the people living in the forest blocks, a measure for which accusations were made that it primarily targeted groups already marginalised (in particular, the Ogiek people). The “Mau question” represents a fundamental step in the agenda setting of the protection of water towers—made a a national issue—as well as of the protection of water towers. The decision of evicting forest residents seems to prefigure the modus operandi endorsed in other areas.

  • 10 By counting on the increase of the forest cover over the water towers and its beneficial effects o (...)
  • 11 The Kenya Forestry and Wildlife Service is supposed to bring together the KWS, KFS, KWTA and the N (...)

12In April 2012, the creation of a new institution, the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), in order to supervise the conservation measures taken for preserving these areas reflects the importance attached to the issue of “rehabilitating” Kenyan water towers. One of its official objectives is for Kenya to no longer be considered as a country suffering from water stress, despite its strong demographic growth.10 Following the failure of the project to merge different parastatal agencies responsible for environmental management in Kenya (presented in image 1),11 the delimitation of KWTA’s areas of jurisdiction and prerogatives may compete with the mandates of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). In fact, these two agencies are among the oldest and the most powerful in the country and may not be so keen on sharing the management of the areas for which they have traditionally been in charge.

Image 1. Parastatal agencies involved in environmental management and their respective responsible ministries in Kenya

Image 1. Parastatal agencies involved in environmental management and their respective responsible ministries in Kenya

Source: Websites of Kenyan ministries and parastatal agencies. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.

  • 12 Vidal, John. 2014. “Kenyan Families Flee Embobut Forest to Avoid Forced Evictions by Police.” The (...)
  • 13 In autumn 2019, the authorities announced plans to evict around 60,000 people from land within the (...)
  • 14 Robert Kirotich, considered to be one of the last representatives of a hunter-gatherer community, (...)
  • 15 See on the European Parliament’s website the text referring to the question E-000557/2018 dated 19 (...)

13The measures supported by the public authorities for the protection of water towers in Kenya have led to greater restrictions on the use of these areas. In this sense, two main types of actions have been carried out. The first, highly controversial, has been based on operations to evict populations living in certain forest reserves. These operations have mainly taken place in the Mau forest complex and in the Cherangani Hills over the past few years12 and until very recently, and have involved several tens of thousands of people.13 On several occasions, international human rights NGOs denounced the operations carried out in the Mau and the Embobut forest in the Cherangani Hills (Amnesty International 2018). After the death of a high-profile Sengwer leader14 the European Union, which had endowed the Cherangani Hills rehabilitation programme with 31 million EUR, decided to suspend its aid in April 2018.15

  • 16 In their typology of environmental organisations active in sub-Saharan Africa, Brockington and Sch (...)
  • 17 This is reflected in the activity reports of the Rhino Ark ("Arkives") published every two years, (...)
  • 18 It is a competition between 4 x 4 vehicles in steep areas. It brings in about 100 million KES per (...)
  • 19 Interview, 2 December 2016, Rhino Ark Manager, Nyeri.

14The erection of electric fences around forest reserves is another type of measure developed in recent years for the protection of water towers. After the construction of a 400-kilometre fence around the Aberdare Mountains, which took place from the late 1980s to 2009, the Rhino Ark organisation was entrusted with the construction of the fence around the Eburru Forest, which is part of the Mau Forest Complex (2012-2014), and the Mount Kenya Forest Reserves (since 2012). This non-governmental organisation, which for a long time focused on the protection of black rhinos and on a single geographical area—the Aberdares16—has gradually integrated other issues such as the protection of water towers as part of the expansion of its area of action.17 While the activities of this organisation were for a long time financed exclusively through fundraising by individuals and companies within the framework of the Rhino Charge,18 it has been receiving public funds since 2012 within the framework of the implementation of a public-private partnership.19 This has doubled the organisation’s budget, which exceeded 2 million USD in 2012 when the construction of fences was launched around Mount Eburru (43 kilometres), one of the blocks of the Mau forest complex, and Mount Kenya (450 kilometres of fences, still in progress). The electric fences are either in contact with the KFS forest plantation areas or directly with the cultivation and housing areas. Although they can still be crossed by local residents, who are allowed to collect firewood or graze their livestock, they are only accessible through gates 3 to 4 kilometres apart, which is a constraint for the population.

Photo 1. The electric enclosure located east from Mount Kipiriri

Photo 1. The electric enclosure located east from Mount Kipiriri

This section was completed in 2009, finalising the encirclement project of the Aberdare Range. The fences stretch along the forest reserves and allow the migration of the elephants between Mount Kipiriri and the Aberdare Range along a 4 km corridor. The fence delimits the forest from the agricultural area, in this case the settlement scheme of Mikaro created on former forest reserves in 1969.

Photo credits: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo, 23 January 2016.

An Ambitious National Objective: Reaching over 10% Tree Cover

  • 20 Most of the reports and articles refer to the forest cover surface area, even if its definition di (...)

15The protection of Kenyan water towers is part of a new national effort to increase the country’s tree cover. The Vision 2030 national development plan and the Constitution of 2010 set as an objective to attain and maintain a minimum of 10% tree cover on the national territory, thus following the international recommendation of the United Nations on the horizon of 2030. However, official Kenyan texts do not specify what is understood by the expression “tree cover.”20 Recently, a 2022 deadline was mentioned in a governmental document providing details about the national strategy to fulfil this objective (RoK 2019).

16The afforestation measures (i.e. the planting of trees on non-forested areas) in the country can build on a dense and old network of tree nurseries, managed by individuals, community groups and associations. This willingness to increase the tree cover in Kenya has been encouraged for several decades now, especially by the Green Belt Movement, created in 1977. The tree planting measure was presented by Wangari Maathai’s association as a means of combatting the supposed desertification of the country—which was a great political concern in the 1970s—and to improve the living conditions of rural populations (and especially of women) who could find the resources necessary for their domestic conditions directly on their land before, without having to go to the forest (Maathai 2005). Today, measures favouring the increase of the country’s tree cover are also justified by the issues related to water supply on a national level and the fight against global warming on an international level.

  • 21 Especially by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which also has a regional office in Nairobi.

17Since the areas classified as “forest reserves” account for only 3.5% of the total surface area of the country and are mostly forested, the ordinary, non-classified areas, and the private property areas are also important for the goal of increasing tree cover. Farmers are therefore encouraged by the authorities to dedicate 10% of their land to tree planting. It is notably in this aim that agroforestry is promoted.21 In fact, as noted in the region of Naivasha, the national authorities and environmental organisations present in Kenya insist on giving priority to indigenous trees instead of the more exotic fast-growing trees, such as the cypress and especially the eucalyptus, that are nevertheless favoured by many farmers. The reasons behind this are ecological (increasing the local biodiversity), hydrological (local tree species consume less water) and agronomical (enriching the soil) in nature.

  • 22 Several “payments for watershed services” projects were studied and/or piloted in Kenya over the l (...)
  • 23 It is worth noting that several “payments for watershed services” projects have been developed in (...)

18In order to encourage the increase of tree cover, including in the productive areas, and prevent its destruction in other areas, for several years now projects of “payment for environmental services” (PES) are being developed in Kenya—a compensation mechanism consisting of monetary or in-kind incentives for the purposes of encouraging the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices. Kenya is one of the first East African countries to have initiated “payments for watershed services” programmes22 (Bennett & Caroll 2014) in the region of Naivasha. This is the only programme of its kind in Kenya that has gone beyond the study phase and in which financial transactions, albeit modest, have taken place so far between the actors involved upstream and downstream (Rouillé et al. 2015; Rouillé-Kielo 2019a).23 Several REDD+ projects (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) have also been implemented in the country (Kariuki et al. 2018).

  • 24 These figures relate only to forests such as they were previously defined in note 16 and not to sm (...)

19According to a report published by the FAO in 2015, measures to increase tree cover has already produced positive effects. The surface of the territory covered in forests is constantly increasing: from 3.5 million hectares in 2000, it reached over 4 million in 2005, and up to 4.2 million in 2010, to finally reach 4.4 million hectares in 2015.24 However, this monitoring of the tree cover percentage encountered significant difficulties in its evaluation. At the moment, the forest cover of the country is officially around 7% (KFS 2015). This rapid increase since the year 2000 (25% in fifteen years) cannot be solely attributed to the reforestation and afforestation efforts of the country, but also to the usage of more efficient remote sensing software or to the use of tdifferent definition criteria of a “forest.” It should also be noted that there are strong regional disparities, with 15 counties having a lower cover than the national average, especially in the area around Lake Victoria (0.44% in Kisumu county) and in the North of the country, but there are also 17 counties that have already surpassed the threshold of 10%, especially in the old central province (38.03% in Nyeri county) (KWTA 2015, 31).

2. Despite the Reforms, Users’ Involvement Is still Limited

20Following the lively critiques directed to the extremely centralised character of natural resources management in Kenya, and the injunctions expressed on an international level for a transition towards a more participative and decentralised management of these resources, the sectorial laws promulgated at the beginning of the 2000s (Water Act 2002; Forest Act 2005), under president Mwai Kibaki’s mandate (2002–2013), have seemed to represent a historic turning point regarding governance. The creation of users’ associations could be seen as a demonstration of the willingness of the central government to delegate part of its prerogatives to the local level. However, according to recent studies on this subject, the global trend is towards the strong inertia of previous functioning modes, with the decision-making power still remaining largely in the hands of the state and the parastatal agencies maintaining the state’s control locally.

Water and Forest Reforms in Kenya

  • 25 The others consist of a separation, which is now clear, between the institutions responsible for w (...)
  • 26 The division was made with respect to a critical size (in terms of surface area—150 to 200 km² per (...)
  • 27 Lake Victoria North, Lake Victoria South, Rift Valley, Ewaso Ng’iro North, Tana, Athi.
  • 28 Interview, 16 September 2016, Assistant Technical Coordination Manager, Community Development, WRM (...)

21The content of the Water Act adopted in 2002 embraces the main principles of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) (monetisation of usage, river basin management approach and users’ participation), which were initially stated during the Conference on Water and the Environment in Dublin in 1992 (Rouillé-Kielo 2019b). One of the major changes25 introduced by the Water Act consists of delegating part of the central government’s powers to lower levels (Mumma 2007). New management areas were also created to correspond to those of the drainage areas of the country’s major rivers.26 On a regional level, six catchment areas27 were defined. Each one is managed from a regional office of the parastatal institution created for the reform, the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA). Basin committees for each of these have also been established. Finally, the territory was also subdivided in sub-catchments (in 2016 their number stood at 1,23728). Each of these sub-catchments is supposed to be represented by one Water Resource Users Association (WRUA). In June 2014, only 30% of the country’s potential WRUAs were established, with considerable inequalities among regions. In 2016, established WRUAs would have reached 50% (Rouillé-Kielo 2019b).

22Another reform in the forest sector was undertaken with the adoption of the 2005 Forest Act, which came into force in 2007. It was inspired by the principles of Participatory Forest Management, a management model that calls upon central powers to delegate the management of forest resources to local institutions. The forest sector reform thus introduced two major changes. The first was the creation of the parastatal agency Kenya Forest Service (KFS) as a replacement to the Forest Department, whose actions were highly criticised in the past. The KFS was to take over the management of all state forests. The second was the establishment of community-based organisations, called Community Forest Associations (CFAs), as well as the possibility for the existing associations to have their rights for participating in public forest management activities recognised before the KFS. Given that there can be only one CFA per forest block, their possible total number in the entire country reaches over 400. A vast majority of them had been created already by the late 2000s (Hübertz 2009). As is the case of water users associations, the definition of the potential members of a CFA is both vague and potentially very large, since it does not stipulate the maximum distance from the forest where the potential members of these associations are to be living and the decision on that matter is ultimately left to the discretion of each association.

Persistent Centralism

23Despite the declared willingness to put a stop to the concentration of power in the hands of the central government, the newly created parastatal agencies, KFS and WRMA, responsible for representing the state locally, have preponderant power.

  • 29 The users rights attached to public forests (such as the right to collect dead wood, honey or medi (...)
  • 30 As a first step, only 24 plantations in the country are affected.

24In the forest sector, the creation of a CFA must be approved by the KFS after examination of the association’s statute and management plan. The KFS also has control over the resources and the rules related to their usage. Ultimately, the CFA members are responsible only for ensuring the monitoring of the state of the resources and the control over the rights of use. It is therefore more of a so-called “Join Forest Management” model between the authorities and the users than a real participatory management placing the users at the heart of the decision-making process and regarding them not only as simple users, but also as owners of the resources (Witcomb & Dorward 2009; Mogoi et al. 2012). More specifically, the main advantage gained from being a member of a CFA is the ability to access the possibility of cultivating the plantations managed by the KFS.29 Regarding this last point, the establishment of the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Schemes (PELIS) can be regarded as a return to the shamba system. Introduced by the British in 1910, this system consisted of jointly planting tree seedlings and food crops in the plantation areas managed by the Forest Department. The farmers involved were responsible for making sure that both the tree seedlings and their food crops would grow well. After about three years, when the tree seedlings were creating too much shadow over the food crops, a new section of the forest inside the plantations was cleared. Prohibited in 1988 before being re-established in 1994 (under a non-residential form), the system was again halted in 2003 before it was reintroduced in 2007, this time under the acronym “PELIS” (Witcomb & Dorward 2009). This change was however only a facade since the functioning globally remained the same. The Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) evaluated the surface of the plantation managed by the PELIS system at 10,000 hectares30 in 2013 (KEFRI 2014).

25In the case of water reform, the decision-making power also remains very centralised (Mumma 2007). Regionally, it is the government authorities that prepare the management plans (the catchment areas management strategy plans). As observed in the Naivasha region, the management and water resource protection rules, which are supposedly formulated by the WRUAs, are not very adjusted to the local contexts and coincide very much with the rules established by law and WRMA recommendations or from other organisations that work with the WRMA locally. It is noteworthy that these associations have no sanctioning power and must settle for reporting any irregularities observed to the WRMA, with the WRMA not necessarily following up on the requests made to it, due to a lack of time and resources. Their creation was encouraged by meetings organised by WRMA in collaboration with representatives of local authorities, or by NGOs or cooperation agencies with a local base. The members of these associations are mainly mobilised for activities related to protection of catchment areas, and especially for maintaining and restoring riparian woodlands (or riverside forests) by planting local tree species cast as water-friendly trees. In rural areas, they are also called upon to approach riparian land owners (many of which are farmers) in order to raise their “awareness” of issues related to the protection of water resources.

Image 2. Institutional organisation of the water sector after the adoption of the Water Act of 2002

Image 2. Institutional organisation of the water sector after the adoption of the Water Act of 2002

Source: Kenyan Ministry of Water. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.

Image 3. Institutional organisation of the forest sector after the adoption of the 2005 Forest Act

Image 3. Institutional organisation of the forest sector after the adoption of the 2005 Forest Act

Source: Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.

  • 31 Within the framework of the ASAL program (arid and semi-arid land), led by the Danish cooperation (...)

26The scarcity of resources available to the users is described in the literature as a major obstacle to economic development. The KFS retains control over revenues from the exploitation of forest resources while WRMA controls the royalties on water consumption. The annual contributions of their members are the only fixed revenue base the associations can count on. When these are provided by individuals, they are usually of little value (about a few euros). The associations can however apply for one-off grants as community groups with the Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF). In the water sector, the WSTF (the Water Service Trust Fund), which is supposed to finance the activities of WRUAs’ subcatchment management plans, now applies a logic by county for the distribution of funds to the WRUAs.31 In order to resolve this rather precarious financial situation, the WRUAs and CFAs located in non-selected counties are encouraged to develop strategies for differentiating their sources of revenue, especially by responding to grants offered by environmental organisations.

Who Is “Involved”?

  • 32 The major landowners, who are for the most part of European origin and own ranches or conservancie (...)

27Participation in users’ associations is voluntary by nature and subjected to a payment of a membership fee, usually paid annually. Most of the users’ associations have a corporate membership system and represent different groups of stakeholders (tree nursery growers, beekeepers, etc.). In the regions with such associations, it is in fact common that these are both members of the local CFA and WRUA. While the composition of the associations, and especially of their office, is supposed to be (as encouraged by the authorities) representative of the different elements of the local “community” in question (gender parity criterion, representation of young people and different cultural groups, representation of the different areas from upstream to downstream of the sub-catchments for the WRUAs), studies addressing the issue have reported a more contrasted reality. Works dedicated to CFAs underline the marginalisation of the poorest population, which can be attributed to the membership fee system, seen as an economic barrier to participation (Hübertz 2009). In fact, the prominent positions of the association’s offices (president and secretary) are largely occupied by men, while women are relegated to more time-consuming and less gratifying tasks (Mogoi et al 2012). Furthermore, in the CFA of the forest Ngare Ndare near Mount Kenya, Chomba et al. (2015) report monopolisation of the power by several members in an area marked by strong socio-economic and land-ownership discrepancies.32 However, this situation is not necessarily reported elsewhere. For instance, in the eastern part of the Mau forest complex (i.e. in the Sururu and Eburu forests) the corporate membership system is presented as a safeguard against confiscation of power by the wealthiest users (Mutune, Wahome & Mungai 2015). Most of these remarks also apply to the WRUAs. For example, the twelve associations in Lake Naivasha water basin were all managed by men in 2016. The requirement to fluently know how to read and write in Swahili and in English in order to be considered for the position of secretary or president of an association can prevent less educated people from accessing these positions.

3. New Challenges Related to Natural Resources Management within the Framework of the Devolution

28In 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution introducing a major change with the creation of 47 counties, each having its own government. The harmonisation of the content of the water and forest acts with the constitutional provisions entailed the delegation of some of the central government’s prerogatives to the counties. However, the issue of the devolution of natural resources management created tensions.

Constitutional Provisions concerning Natural Resources Management

29Section 69 of the Constitution of 2010 specifies the obligation of the state regarding natural resources and environmental management. The state is committed to ensuring the exploitation, usage, management, and sustainable protection of the environment and its natural resources, as well as a fair distribution of the revenues that may be generated from the same (KLR 2010, 69, 1, a). The state shall also encourage involvement in the management and protection of the environment (KLR 2010, 69, 1, d).

30Schedule 4 of the constitution lays out the respective functions of the central government and the counties within the framework of the devolution process but does not allow however to clearly identify who will be in charge of natural resources management. This ambiguity gave way to multiple interpretations and discussions during the examination of the water and forest laws. The text (Schedule 4, 22) states that the national government is responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment and its natural resources for the purpose of establishing a sustainable development process. However, according to this same text (Schedule 4, 10), the counties’ mission in terms of natural resources management is also very broad: counties are responsible for implementing the government policies for protection of the natural resources and the environment, which also includes, as is specified in the text, the protection of the soil and the water resources, as well as the management of the forests. They are responsible for the forests previously managed by the local authorities, while the public forests (which are much larger) remain under the management of the Kenya Forest Service.

Natural Resources Management, a Coveted Financial Issue

  • 33 See in particular, Munyeki, James. 2013. “Central Nakuru, Nairobi Counties Have Vowed not to Pay f (...)

31Since the creation of the counties, and in the period during which legislation frameworks were being revised and adapted to the constitutional provisions, intense discussions were ongoing. Disputes between counties were echoed in the press several times,33 following the expressed intention by the governors of counties such as Nyandarua and Murang’a, where the waterway sources supplying notably Nairobi are located, to request financial compensation from the counties situated downstream. During the revision period of the framework law on forests, the issue of sharing revenues was highly debated. With the provisions of the new law, KFS retains discretionary power over the issuing of licenses for exploitation of public plantation forests, and with it, control over the related revenues (evaluated at 1 billion KES per year, which is equivalent to 8.6 million EUR). Furthermore, the exploitation of mature trees from the forests with local species or the selling of carbon credits as part of the possible implementation of the REDD+ programs could provide important revenues rising great interest among counties’ governors. During the discussions preceding the adoption of the law, the National Alliance of Community Forest Associations (NACOFA), responsible for representing the CFAs on a national level, also started negotiations with the central government for allowing users associations to benefit from a part of the revenues generated by the exploitation of the public forests they co-managed. A priori, these claims were to remain unsatisfied.

  • 34 Several press articles were published in the months following the adoption of the text, in particu (...)
  • 35 Gachane, Ndungu. 2019. “Wa Iria Threatens Lawsuit for Murang’a to Get Ndakaini Water.” Daily Natio (...)
  • 36 Maina, Waikwa. 2018. “Nyandarua Leaders Want 14 Counties to Pay for Water Supply.” Business Daily.
  • 37 The county of Nairobi is the first in the country to have adopted a law in this area. The amount o (...)

32The Water Act (RoK 2016) and the Forest conservation and management Act (RoK 2016) were finally adopted in September 2016, i.e. respectively two years and one year following their drafting. These laws partially clarify the conditions for participation of counties in natural resources management issues. As for water resources, the counties’ representatives shall be appointed in the new basin committees, the Basin Water Resources Committees (BWRC), which have an expanded mandate and are created as a replacement to the old CAACs, which had only a very limited and exclusively advisory role. The assertion of decision-making power at the national level marked in the Water Act 2016 was challenged by county representatives as soon as the text was adopted, claiming that it was unconstitutional.34 Since then, there have been press reports of county governors’ continued willingness to take possession of water from dams for riverine communities35 or to impose taxes on water supplies to other counties.36 In 2019, Nairobi County committed itself to compensating the counties where rivers that contribute to the city’s water supply are located by adopting the Water and Sanitation Services Policy.37

  • 38 Interview from 25 September 2016, Kenya Working Forest Group (KFWG), national coordinator.

33Apart from these new acts of parliament, that followed the adoption of the constitution in 2010, several initiatives for developing discussion between the different key stakeholders for natural resources protection on the county level emerged. The county natural resources forums were intended to be set up to unite all representatives of the local government, the county, the private sector, the civil society and the “indigenous communities.” By 2016 only six forums would have been created.38 In the case of water towers, many of which stretch over several counties (the one in Mount Kenya, for example, is shared between five counties), KWTA has encouraged the development of inter-county management plans by adopting a landscape approach so as to allow natural resources management to be organised in line with the ecosystem limits rather than the administrative boundaries (KWTA 2015, 32).

Conclusion

34The changes initiated with the adoption of the Water and Forest Acts adopted in the early 2000s, which have been revised recently, reflect the “integration” paradigm in natural resources management, with a greater involvement of the local levels in “governance.” However, after several years of implementation and in spite of the small revisions recently made as part of the devolution, participation primarily concerns the management of natural resources that can be described as “productive” (for example, KFS’s plantations with the “PELIS” system, or riparian agricultural holdings), and do not pertain to areas under stricter protection. In the “productive” areas, the central government retains control over the rules for the use of resources, as well as over the revenues generated by this use. It seems that the water and forest users’ associations “participate” in the management activities primarily as auxiliaries to the central government, in order to help achieve the objectives set on a national level, in particular that of a 10% tree cover up to 2022.

35Recently, the challenge of protecting water towers allowed for the justification of a stricter protection of the forest reserves. The valorisation of the forests described as “indigenous” is part of the process of making the Kenyan water towers sanctuaries of the national “natural” heritage and presenting them as guarantors to the emerging economic prosperity of the country. Protection of these forests is implemented through materialisation (with electric fences) of their borders and through regular eviction of the groups of people residing there. The selective nature of the movement for recalling the former forest reserves raises the question of the way the authorities decide whose presence in these areas is legitimate or not. The modalities of protecting these forests, particularly the evictions measures, raise human rights concerns. The ongoing preparation of a Bill regarding the management of water towers (whose first draft was released in 2019) will potentially clarify the strategy of the national authorities on how to restore these areas.

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Notes

1 As per the Falkenmark indicator (1989), a country is considered to be experiencing “water stress” when the amount of available water is less than 1,000 cubic metres per person per year. In 2009, the available water per person per year in Kenya was estimated at 647 cubic metres (RoK, WRMA, 2009). However, this number is constantly evolving, depending on demographic changes, as well as the changes of known available water and water reserves. The discovery of two giant aquifers in the county of Turkana in 2013 largely modified the estimation of the global volume of water resources that may potentially be mobilised on the national territory.

2 Kenya has 348 protected areas, covering a surface of 75 237 km² (KWTA 2016, 11). Around 8% of the country’s surface area is covered by reserves and national parks run by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

3 We can point out as an example the Olkaria geothermal station inside the Hell’s Gate park in Naivasha, or the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) fast rail line, linking Mombasa to Nairobi and passing through Nairobi’s National Park.

4 Translations from French are made by the author.

5 10 months of fieldwork between March 2014 and December 2016.

6 Defined by the authorities as “a forest which has come about by natural regeneration of trees primarily native to Kenya, and includes mangrove and bamboo forests” (RoK 2005).

7 This terminology seems to indicate that the protection activities undertaken in these areas reference a previous state (Rouillé-Kielo 2020). However, neither the documents on the subject, nor the responses obtained during the interviews specify any specific timeframe of reference.

8 For example, the Kenyatta government declassified around 6,100 hectares of forest reserves in the Aberdare Mountains in 1970 by (UNEP, KWS, Rhino Ark & KFWG 2003).

9 Such as coal production, marijuana growing, and exploitation of timber.

10 By counting on the increase of the forest cover over the water towers and its beneficial effects on the rainfall and water flow regulation. See Bernard Calas’ chapter in this book for more information on demographic trends in Kenya.

11 The Kenya Forestry and Wildlife Service is supposed to bring together the KWS, KFS, KWTA and the Nyayo Tea Zone. Donors, in particular those supporting the KWS, were strongly opposed to the reform, the goal of which was to create budgetary savings. See in particular Ndii, David. 2015. “Why Uhuru’s Parastatal Reform Was Doomed to Fail.” Daily Nation, 8 May. https://nation.africa/kenya/blogs-opinion/opinion/why-uhuru-s-parastatal-reform-was-doomed-to-fail-1092180 [archive]; Kemei, Kipchumba. 2014. “KWS-KFS Merger Opposed, Says CS.” The Standard, 5 April. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/kenya/article/2000108630/kws-kfs-merger-opposed-says-cs [archive]).

12 Vidal, John. 2014. “Kenyan Families Flee Embobut Forest to Avoid Forced Evictions by Police.” The Guardian, 7 January. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jan/07/kenya-embobut-forest-forced-evictions-police [archive]; Kitelo, Peter. 2016. “Does Burning Homes Save the Water Towers? Quite the Opposite.” The Star, 12 July. Published in Katiba Institute: http://katibainstitute.org/does-burning-homes-save-the-water-towers-quite-the-opposite/ [archive].

13 In autumn 2019, the authorities announced plans to evict around 60,000 people from land within the forest reserve north of Narok (Sayagie, George. 2019. “60,000 Families Targeted in Second Mau Forest Eviction.” Daily Nation, 2 September. https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/narok/60-000-families-targeted-in-second-mau-forest-eviction-199852 [archive]). According to Human Rights Watch, 50,000 people have been driven out of the Mau Forest since 2018, and nine people have been killed during the operations (“Kenya: Mau Forest Evictees’ Plight Intensifies.” 2020. Human Rights Watch, 23 July. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/23/kenya-mau-forest-evictees-plight-intensifies [archive]). See also the following press articles: Mwale, Anne. 2019. “Looming Mau Phase Two Evictions Elicit Mixed Reactions.” Kenya News Agency, 6 September. https://www.kenyanews.go.ke/looming-mau-phase-two-evictions-elicit-mixed-reactions/ [archive]; “Mau Evictions Should Be Done Humanely.” 2019. The Standard, 7 October. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/editorial/article/2001344617/mau-evictions-should-be-done-humanely [archive].

14 Robert Kirotich, considered to be one of the last representatives of a hunter-gatherer community, the Sengwer, was reportedly killed during an eviction order by agents of the Kenya Forest Service (Watts, Jonathan. 2018. “Kenya Forest Death: Activities Blame EU for Ignoring Human Rights Warnings.” The Guardian, 19 January. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/19/kenya-forest-death-activists-blame-eu-for-ignoring-human-rights-warnings [archive]).

15 See on the European Parliament’s website the text referring to the question E-000557/2018 dated 19 April 2018 (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-000557_EN.html [archive]).

16 In their typology of environmental organisations active in sub-Saharan Africa, Brockington and Scholfield (2010) classified this organisation as falling into two common categories: “Charismatic animal-orientated NGOs” and “Single protected area NGOs.”

17 This is reflected in the activity reports of the Rhino Ark ("Arkives") published every two years, which can be consulted on the organisation’s website (http://rhinoark.org/).

18 It is a competition between 4 x 4 vehicles in steep areas. It brings in about 100 million KES per year (about 1 million USD).

19 Interview, 2 December 2016, Rhino Ark Manager, Nyeri.

20 Most of the reports and articles refer to the forest cover surface area, even if its definition differs from one organisation to another. According to the FAO, whose data we use, a “forest” is a “land spanning more than 0,5 hectares with trees higher than 5 metres and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent (…)” (FAO 2012).

21 Especially by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which also has a regional office in Nairobi.

22 Several “payments for watershed services” projects were studied and/or piloted in Kenya over the last fifteen years (around the Sasumua dam, in the Upper-Tana, and in the Upper-Mara).

23 It is worth noting that several “payments for watershed services” projects have been developed in Kenya, mainly in the highlands, to improve water supply to large cities or key sectors of the economy. However, the lack of “buyers” for these watershed services has prevented the achievement of these projects. The Nairobi Water Funds project currently being developed by The Nature Conservancy, if it comes to fruition, could be the first African “Water fund” (there are several in Latin America).

24 These figures relate only to forests such as they were previously defined in note 16 and not to smaller and less dense vegetation patches.

25 The others consist of a separation, which is now clear, between the institutions responsible for water management and the water supply services, a separation of the policy design with daily administration and daily regulations; the involvement of non-government entities in both the water resource management and the water supply services (Mumma 2007: 160).

26 The division was made with respect to a critical size (in terms of surface area—150 to 200 km² per WRUA (Richards & Syallow 2018) and representation of population), with the limits of the catchment areas not being necessarily taken into account.

27 Lake Victoria North, Lake Victoria South, Rift Valley, Ewaso Ng’iro North, Tana, Athi.

28 Interview, 16 September 2016, Assistant Technical Coordination Manager, Community Development, WRMA.

29 The users rights attached to public forests (such as the right to collect dead wood, honey or medicinal herbs and graze livestock) do not depend on the CFA membership.

30 As a first step, only 24 plantations in the country are affected.

31 Within the framework of the ASAL program (arid and semi-arid land), led by the Danish cooperation agency Danida and the European Union, only six counties were selected. Today, with many new projects emerging, around 17 counties and a little under 100 WRUAs should be able to receive support by the WSTF in the years to come (interview, 16 September 2016, two WSTF agents).

32 The major landowners, who are for the most part of European origin and own ranches or conservancies which can be of over 10,000 hectares, managed to influence the budgetary orientations of the CFA in their favour, and did so at the expense of the small landowners who are Kikuyu, Maasai and Meru and 91% of which own less than 2 hectares of land (Chomba et al. 2015).

33 See in particular, Munyeki, James. 2013. “Central Nakuru, Nairobi Counties Have Vowed not to Pay for Water.” The Standard, 9 August. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/central/article/2000090485/uproar-over-countys-plan-to-charge-for-water [archive].

34 Several press articles were published in the months following the adoption of the text, in particular to report an appeal to the Court of Justice by the Council of Governors, representing the county governors (Kadida, Jillo. 2016. “Counties in Court to Block Enforcement of Water Act, Say it Takes away their Roles.” The Star, 15 December; Kadida, Jillo. 2017. “Citizen Sues to Stop Implementation of New Water Act.” The Star, 6 February [archive]; Kakah, Maureen. 2016. “Governors Challenge Implementation of Water Act in Kenya.” Daily Nation, 14 December. https://nation.africa/kenya/news/governors-challenge-implementation-of-water-act-337874 [archive]).

35 Gachane, Ndungu. 2019. “Wa Iria Threatens Lawsuit for Murang’a to Get Ndakaini Water.” Daily Nation, 8 September. https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/muranga/wa-iria-threatens-lawsuit-for-murang-a-to-get-ndakaini-water-201678 [archive].

36 Maina, Waikwa. 2018. “Nyandarua Leaders Want 14 Counties to Pay for Water Supply.” Business Daily.

37 The county of Nairobi is the first in the country to have adopted a law in this area. The amount of funds earmarked for compensation to other counties was not reported in the sources consulted.

38 Interview from 25 September 2016, Kenya Working Forest Group (KFWG), national coordinator.

Table des illustrations

Titre Map 1. The main Kenya’s water towers
Crédits Source: UNEP (2005; 2009); KWTA (2015). Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/2515/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Titre Image 1. Parastatal agencies involved in environmental management and their respective responsible ministries in Kenya
Crédits Source: Websites of Kenyan ministries and parastatal agencies. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/2515/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,4M
Titre Photo 1. The electric enclosure located east from Mount Kipiriri
Légende This section was completed in 2009, finalising the encirclement project of the Aberdare Range. The fences stretch along the forest reserves and allow the migration of the elephants between Mount Kipiriri and the Aberdare Range along a 4 km corridor. The fence delimits the forest from the agricultural area, in this case the settlement scheme of Mikaro created on former forest reserves in 1969.
Crédits Photo credits: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo, 23 January 2016.
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/2515/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 2,0M
Titre Image 2. Institutional organisation of the water sector after the adoption of the Water Act of 2002
Crédits Source: Kenyan Ministry of Water. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/2515/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 762k
Titre Image 3. Institutional organisation of the forest sector after the adoption of the 2005 Forest Act
Crédits Source: Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Author: Gaële Rouillé-Kielo.
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/2515/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 525k

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