Kenya is hosting the NGARA Secretariat and Kenya Forestry Research Institute is the National Focal Point. Key partners in Kenya regarding the AOP project include: Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) [formerly Forest Department], Gum Arabic and Resins Association, Arid Lands Resources Ltd. and local communities represented by Project Management Committees (PMCs).

In Kenya the Acacia Operation Project (AOP) has established pilot sites in four locations - Sereolipi (Samburu District), Merille, Laisamis and Log-logo (Marsabit District) and in Kibwezi District. The sites were ploughed using mechanized water harvesting technology (Vallerani System) and first planted in October-November 2004.

A total of 20 sites were established; 8 Marsabit District (Merille, Laisamis, Log-logo, Elgadhe, North Horr, Loiyangalani, El Boru Magadho, Gas and Gatab), 1 in Samburu District (Sereolipi) and 11 in Kibwezi Distric. An area totaling 340 ha were ploughed and planted with various dryland tree species and agricultural crops depending on site. A. senegal was planted in Marsabit and Samburu districts while Melia volkensii, Jatropha caurcus and mango were planted in Kibwezi District. Agricultural crops planted included: sorghum, beans, pigeon peas, cowpeas, green grams, pearl millet, watermelon and maize. 

Biophysical and socio-economic benchmarking for the project sites have been carried out. 

Over the last three years of pilot acitives in Kenya, the country has suffered extensive drought, which has greatly affected the perfomance of tree and agricultural crops at the project sites. Nevertheless, the project has had tremendous positive impact on the local communities in various ways: 

Firstly, the sites are situated in areas where the communities are predominantly pastoralists and following sensitization, the communities have begun to embrace agriculture and are now practicing it even in their home steads (manyattas). 

Secondly, the communities have taken up to other alternative livelihoods derived from natural resources following establishment and capacity building of Project Management Committees at each site. Through the establishment of producer associations, there are a number of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) that have been formed and active in the production and marketing of various nature based products e.g. gum arabic and resins, handcrafts, tree seeds, bee products as well as hides and skins. The communities especially in Laisamis, Merille and Sereolipi have also established individual and group nurseries that are now a source of income to them, as they sell these seedlings to other community members and institutions (e.g. schools) or other projects. Merigo women group in Log-logo have put up a guest village, where a number of trees have been planted using skills acquired from AOP. 

In Kenya synergies have been initiated with various projects, which have ensured that in the Acacia Operation Project sites, community activities are sustained beyond project period. Among these are:

Capacity development of subject matter specialists and communities in sound harvesting and post harvest handling of gum Arabic and gum resins funded by the Government and African Development Bank in Collaboration with Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority (ENNDA) 

Food for Assets (FFA) funded by the World Food Programme and assisting communities at the AOP field sites 

1. Capacity development of subject matter specialists and communities in sound harvesting and post harvest handling of gum Arabic and gum resins funded by the Government and African Development Bank in Collaboration with Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority (ENNDA).

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the promotion of gum arabic, gum resins and allied dryland resources in Northern Kenya has been elaborated between Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority and Kenya Forestry Research Institute in the framework of Acacia Operation Project (AOP) and NGARA. Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority is a regional authority with the primary objective of promoting economic development in its area of jurisdiction i.e. the Arid and Semi Arid districts of Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Moyale, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo and Laikipia as well as parts of Meru North, Meru Central, Nyandarua and Nyeri. 

The main objective of this project is to train practitioners in the production and marketing of gum arabic and gum resins with the ultimate objective of providing an alternative livelihood source (income generation) for the local community.

The specific objectives were to: 

Impart necessary knowledge and skills to extension staff and producers in the sound production of gums and resins in the target districts. 

Improve technology on better harvesting, value adding of gums and resins and to increase returns to the collectors. 

The training was organized at two levels; Training of Trainers (ToTs) and training of local communities. 

1.1 Achievements

Training of Trainers has been implemented and a total of 84 Subject Matter Specialists from 9 districts have been trained 

Producer Associations have been identified in the gum arabic producing districts and 7 been formed 

Curriculum for Community training has been developed. Community training is scheduled to begin in January 2008 

2. Food for Assets (FFA) funded by the World food Programme and assisting communities at the AOP field sites

In Kenya, the Acacia Operation Project (AOP) is working with the communities at the project sites through Project Management Committees (PMCs). The original idea of AOP was to have the communities contribute to the project in the form of land and labor. However, majority of the community members working in the project are food insecure and require assistance. The project was therefore forced to provide some token cash for work and later collaborated with the Food for the Hungry International (FHI) through Food for Work (FFW) in fencing two sites (at Merille and Logo-logo). This collaboration was found to be quite useful and more viable in implementing activities in these areas. Another initiative called Food for Asset (FFA) programme in collaboration with World Food Program (WFP) seems even more viable as it is pegged to assets that can assist communities mitigate future droughts. AOP has come up with a wide range of assets. Through FFA, the communities can be supported to effectively develop assets that can be used to mitigate future droughts.
Food for Asset (FFA) emphasizes the creation of an asset and its quality, relevance and benefits of the actual ‘work’ to a given community. The idea is to leave a useful asset behind for the community, a more long-term approach as compared to Food For Work (FFW)

2.1 Achievements

A concept note on this initiative was submitted to World Food Programme in May 2007 and was approved. It was agreed that food for Emergency Operations (EMOP) will be used in phase 1 (July to September 2007) and that the activities be supported through a three year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) in phase two (from October 2007).

A mission was organized in June 2007 to start off the initiative by visiting the project sites to mobilize the communities on FFA and also to present the proposal to the District Commissioner and seek the approval of the District Steering Group (DSG). The mission was successful and the project was approved. 

The key stakeholders (WFP, KEFRI/AOP/ NGARA, KARI, KFS and KRC) met in August 2007 at the WFP office in Marsabit and discussed the proposed activities and proposed a way forward before the food distribution could start. The following activities were agreed upon to be carried out on a pilot basis during the month of September in the three sites (Merille, Laisamis and Log-logo):

Collection of seeds of A. senegal, A. tortilis and A. seyal 

Fencing of project sites 

Repairing of the micro-catchments 

Collection of gums and resins 

WFP released the first batch of the food for FFA activities in support AOP activities in Merille and Laisamis sites in September 2007. The next batch of food was released in December 2007. The activities supported so far are fencing of project sites.

For more information contact,
Mr. Meshack Muga
NGARA Focal Point
Kenya Forestry Research Institute
Karura Forest Products Research Centre
P. O. Box 64636-00620
Mobil plaza
Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: +254 20 2020623 
Fax: 254 20 3750497

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