Arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya (ASALs) make up 89% of the country. Arid counties alone cover 70% and are home to 38% of the population and 70% of the national livestock herd and 90% of the wild game that supports the country’s tourism industry. One of the main characteristics of ASALs is that they have the lowest development indicators and the highest incidence of poverty in Kenya. The areas are drought-prone, which leaves communities living in these areas very vulnerable.
In Kenya, a severe drought is estimated to affect between three and four million people.However, even in ‘good’ years, many families in ASALs live with hunger or the fear of it. The human cost of drought is clear to see in lost lives and livelihoods, but the economic cost is also crippling. An estimated Kshs. 969 billion of drought-related damages and losses were incurred between 2008 and 2011,2 equivalent to 17 percent of GDP in 2011. The assessment of the 2008-2011 drought noted that its impacts were generally worse in places where poverty levels are high. In the nine arid counties, a history of uncoordinated and unequal development has meant that the basic building blocks of local economies – particularly security, infrastructure, and human capital – are weak. In the remaining 14 semi-arid counties, vulnerability is also associated with factors such as land pressure and land sub-division, market failure, and an over-reliance on rain-fed production and crop varieties which are poorly adapted to drylands. Further, the strategies which communities might once have used to manage drought are becoming less effective as the population grows, the climate changes, boundaries solidify, and customary institutions lose someof their power. All these challenges necessitated adoption of the EDE Strategy and subsequent development and implementation of EDE MTP II during 2013-2017.
While the challenges in ASALs are evident, their potential has often been obscured. Adequate attention to the region, proper understanding of its needs, potential and addressing political commitment is defined in Sessional Paper No 8 of 2012 on The National Policy for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands which was passed by Parliament on 6th December 2012.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) was established as a statutory body under the State Corporations Act (Cap 446) through Legal Notice No. 171 of 24th November 2011. The National Drought Management Authority Act (2016) further strengthened its mandate to exercise overall coordination over all matters relating to drought risk management and establish mechanisms, either on its own or with stakeholders, that will end drought emergencies in Kenya.
Creation of NDMA is also underpinned by Sessional Paper No. 8 of 2012 on the National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands (the ‘ASAL policy’),
Through the Common Programme Framework (CPF), stronger alignment and coordination of investment and harmonisation of programming is ensured, in line with the objectives of the Kenya External Resources Policy of October 2013. This policy spells out the need for country ownership and leadership, mutual accountability, managing for development results, and stronger alignment and coordination.
The comprehensive EDE coordination structure is led by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). The coordination structure strengthens synergy between sectors and agencies at the national and devolved levels and increases accountability to drought-affected communities.
Intergovernmental Forum: Apex body, chaired by the President and attended by governors from drought-prone counties. It provides political direction to the EDE within the framework of the Intergovernmental Relations Act, 2012.
Intergovernmental Committee: Chaired by the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for drought management in Kenya and attended by Cabinet Secretaries from the National Government and governors from ASAL counties.
National EDE Steering Committee: Chaired by the NDMA. Its members include the Government chair and donor co-chair of each pillar, as well as other co-opted members. The Government chairs ensure links to the relevant sectors and ministries.
EDE Pillar Groups: Chaired by the Government and co-chaired by a development partner. Pillar groups draw membership from all organisations, state and non-state, that have interest in the pillar/sector activities.
County Steering Group: Chaired by the Governor, with NDMA as the secretariat. It draws membership from all state and non-state actors handling EDE issues at the county level.
EDE Secretariat: Located in the NDMA, which is the focal point in Government for the EDE and is the secretariat for various EDE structures.
ASAL Development Partners Group: Brings together all development partners operating in the ASALs and is responsible for coordinating all their issues and ensuring they align their investments to the CPF for EDE.
A number of political and economic blocs have been either formed or strengthened in order to achieve the goal of EDE. One of the political groupings is Pastoralists Leadership Summit that brings together all the members of parliament and governors from pastoral areas on a common platform to legislate issues that help address challenges facing pastoralists. Others include the ASAL Stakeholder Forum and ASAL Donor Group which ensure that EDE investment is better coordinated, aligned with the CPF and, where possible, harmonised. Regional economic blocs have also emerged to accelerate economic development and by extension address resilience of ASAL communities to drought and other hazards.
Platform Steering Committee Member: Amb. Dr. Leonard Gaithe – Head of ASAL Directorate, State Department for the Development of ASALs, Ministry of Devolution and ASALs
IDDRSI Focal Point: Dr. James Oduor – Chief Executive Officer, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA)