Conference outcomes include strong partnerships and will to achieve results.
Tengetile Zanele Mphila-Nguru
The beginning of the Kenya National Landscape Restoration Scaling conference marked the start of partnerships among organizations engaging in landscape restoration. The conference’s six days of engagement, sharing of experience, lessons, challenges and recommendations for increasing the scale of landscape restoration gave all the participants from different sectors and organizations a platform to identify ways of engaging each other and taking key actions.
The conference was inclusive of youth, women, the agricultural and environmental sectors, private sector and faith-based communities, with around 150 of the total 300 participants joining each daily session. After the official opening by Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, thematic sessions began with discussing approaches and practices of restoration. This was followed by a session on inclusion of youth and women in restoration. The third session was on movement building and leveraging, held on the fourth day. The fifth and last days of the thematic sessions included monitoring, entrepreneurship and business approaches.
A key motivation for the conference was to bring out the challenges faced by everyone as they engaged in restoration as well as come up with solutions, including action plans.
The approaches and practices session saw speakers from the agricultural sector, those rehabilitating pastoral and range lands, and forest and landscape restoration, as well as those conserving wildlife. In the discussions, speakers emphasized the various challenges they faced, such as reduced productivity owing to high levels of land degradation, lack of reporting mechanisms on restoration, restricted communication and information sharing as well as a lack of coordination.
The partners deliberated on the actions plans for solving the challenges. The plans included creating communication networks, conducting a massive campaign to raise awareness of the importance of restoration, and forming or strengthening partnerships among various departments.
Summarizing the approaches and practices session, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) Kenya Country Manager Jonathan Muriuki noted the speakers’ recommendations for increasing the scale of successful projects, designing specific capacity-building approaches, integrating indigenous and local with scientific knowledge and the strengthening of local governance.
After the emphasis on ensuring the meaningful engagement of youth in restoration that was made during the opening session by the cabinet secretary, the youth and women session sought concrete recommendations to help this engagement take place. The speakers developed action plans on the best ways forward. Kiptoo Chemoiwo from GLFx Nairobi presented some of the recommendations, stating that there needs to be a change in mindsets at community level regarding women’s and youth leadership and their role in restoration.
‘County governments can promote the participation of women and youth in decision making by putting in place policies that promote their participation,’ he said. ‘Some of the action plans that will be considered by the session team are supporting a youth network for restoration, capturing success stories on restoration by women and youth, training women and youth in fundraising strategies, grant management and proposal writing.’
The movement building and leveraging session, which featured speakers from the faith-based communities, grassroots and county governments, excited the participants because most of them felt that there was a need to involve these bodies in restoration. In the session, it was recommended that faith leaders should be cultivated as important conveyors of the messages regarding the importance of restoration and environmental stewardship. The leaders should be helped to see their role in promoting environmental stewardship and be empowered with the capacity to engage in restoration. Some of the next steps that came out included holding networking sessions, bringing landscape restoration out clearly in the devolution conference and supporting grassroots mobilization by providing capacity building and connecting groups with projects and resources.
There have been ongoing talks about the needed harmonization of monitoring in the country. The conversation that started in the forest landscape restoration monitoring webinar continued during the conference. The conference session had many speakers recommending creation of an integrated national restoration monitoring framework, enabling conditions to support the framework and establishing a core set of indicators. The landscape restoration monitoring team also suggested the formation of a National Landscape Restoration Monitoring Working Group, which was supporting during the conference closing remarks by Alfred Gichu and Peterson Kamau on behalf of the permanent secretary for Environment and Forestry. This working group will be mandated to oversee a participatory process to agree on definitions, identify monitoring and reporting barriers, gaps, indicators for restoration, tools and approaches for data collection and opportunities for reporting. The proposed members of this working group will be drawn from both state and non-state actors.
The final thematic session of the conference was on entrepreneurship and business approaches for restoration. The session had speakers from the private sector in Kenya, such as Safaricom, Kenya Breweries, BIDCO Africa, Kenya Tea Developers Agency, African Agency for Arid Resources, World Resources Institute, Better Globe Forestry, Seedballs Kenya, Nyuki Hubs, RAE Trust, Base Titanium Mastercard, L.E.A.F Africa, Wangari Maathai Institution for Peace and Environment and KENGEN Foundation. These speakers presented several recommendations on how the Kenya private sector, including entrepreneurs, can be engaged in restoration and how there can be a conducive environment. The challenges faced by businesses involved in restoration were also noted. The speakers had the following recommendations for the Government: to review legislation that made it hard for the private sector to meaningfully engage in restoration; to deliberately collaborate with the private sector in restoration and together with technical partners support the private sector, especially on carbon issues.
Linda Munyao, chairperson of the Environment Institute of Kenya, who was also the moderator of the session, mentioned that the speakers also advised the private sector to aim at creating profitable enterprises, documenting private-sector stories, including the journey of restoration to share and make it saleable, leveraging the high unemployment rate of youth and involving communities in their environmental endeavors. As part of the recommendations and action plans for the entrepreneurship and business approaches session, it was stated that one domicile entity for all bodies interested in investing in restoration will be created and this will be done in close consultation with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
The conference came to an end on Friday 16 July 2021. The chief guests during the closing session were Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga and Chief Administrative Secretary Anne Nyaga of the State Department for Agricultural Research at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives. Boga appreciated the collaboration and urged everyone to play their part in ensuring that we no longer degraded the environment. In her closing remarks, Nyaga emphasized the importance of forming youth and women’s networks and also appealed for the inclusion of children so that they would be informed at an early stage, which will help with the long-term sustainability of restoration.
‘The Ministry is willing to collaborate in the re-establishment of restoration activities in all the primary and high schools in the country,’ she said.
If you would like to be involved in the networks and actions emerging from the conference, please email: RegreeningAfrica@cgiar.org
About the project
Regreening Africa is a five-year project funded by the European Union (EU), through the European Commission. The project seeks to restore one million hectares and benefit 500,000 households in eight countries, including those under Great Green Wall such as Mali, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Somalia. Others include Kenya, Rwanda. By incorporating trees into croplands, communal lands and pastoral areas, regreening efforts make it possible to reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes.
Regreening Africa is implemented by a consortium of partners comprising of World Agroforestry (ICRAF), World Vision, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CARE, Oxfam and Sahel Eco. But most important, the project builds on the knowledge, experience and commitment of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa who are keen to turn the deserts and degraded lands into thriving landscapes.
The project directly contributes to the goals of the Great Green Wall initiative and the AFR100 commitments. Its success, and that of other similar initiatives in the region, implies that the ambition of the Great Green Wall (GGW) is gradually becoming a reality.
This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Regreening Africa and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.