• Service: Advisory
  • Type: KPMG information
  • Date: 12/18/2013

Documenting customary laws improves natural resource governance  

In Kenya, IUCN and its local partner RAP have documented customary laws on the access, use and management of rangeland resources in Isiolo County of Northern Kenya. The process of developing these laws has increased local people’s understanding of their rights and opportunities within the new Constitution with regards to natural resource governance, and once these customary laws are integrated formally i.e. they are passed by the new County Government, they will improve natural resource governance, increase local authority over decision making, and benefit approximately 40,000 pastoralists in the region.
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Key elements of context


Garba Tula district of Isiolo County, like many other arid and semi‐arid districts of Northern Kenya is populated by majority pastoralist populations who practice extensive livestock keeping across communally managed rangelands. These rangelands are home to approximately 40,000 Boran pastoralists who maintain a pastoral livelihood as well as conserve the land for use by large wildlife populations, in this important area between Meru, Mwingi and Kora national parks. Despite the importance of the Boran customary rangeland management system to the sustainable management of this areas and its resources these traditional systems are rarely recognised by the State or the temporary users who enter the district during the dry seasons to make seasonal use of the resources. This lack of recognition and the increasing influence of the State is weakening these institutions and the leadership they traditional provide in terms of rangeland management. Land in Garba Tula district, like many other communally managed lands, has been held in Trust by the County government since the introduction of the Trust Land Act in 1963. Despite the intention that County Councils would be accountable to the communities and make decisions based on traditional rules and norms, the Trust Land system has in reality been an opportunity for elite capture, and the misappropriation of key resources areas for individual benefit, with local communities poorly informed of their rights within this system. The resultant impact on the rangelands of Garba Tula has been negative, with a weakening of the traditional governance system, promotion of individual tenure systems, disruption of grazing routes and resource access and consequently increasing degradation of the landscape.