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Community engagement in natural resource management


Enhancing community participation in natural resource management, in both the terrestrial and marine sphere, is an enormous part of the work that WWF is doing in Kenya. Recently we’ve been supporting the establishment and strengthening of the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee (CWCCC) in Lamu, as well as other CWCCCs elsewhere in the coastal region.

When Kenya adopted its new constitution in 2010, much of the responsibility for managing natural resources moved from the centralised national government to 47 newly established county governments. This was a process called devolution and, whilst it has brought some challenges, broadly it’s seen as a very positive step. The decision to devolve was based on the notion that local communities and authorities are best placed to govern the use of natural resources within their county – they are the ones with the greatest understanding of it and the ones most directly affected by it, as my colleague Elias explained in his earlier blog,

Lamu seascape © Cath LawsonLamu seascape © Cath Lawson

In Kenya we have a Wildlife Conservation and Management Act. This is a national level piece of legislation but it calls for the formation of County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees (CWCCCs), and it is through this mechanism that governance and decision-making on wildlife matters is being largely devolved to a county level. An appointed officer from Kenya Wildlife Service is the Secretary to each committee and the Chairperson is appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, but within each CWCCC there is also the opportunity for four people to sit on the committee as community representatives.  This helps to ensure that communities have a voice in natural resource management issues

Equivalent committees have now been established in all counties in Kenya, supported by WWF in the counties where we work. The committees help to empower local communities in decision making about wildlife management whilst also helping to create incentives for wildlife conservation.

The roles of the CWCCC

These include: registering wildlife user rights; overseeing development and implementation of management plans on community and private land; ensuring benefits from wildlife are accordingly distributed; bringing together stakeholders for effective land use planning; monitoring implementation of management plans for National Parks in their area together with KWS; developing and implementing mechanisms for human-wildlife conflict mitigation; and reviewing and recommending on claims for compensation from wildlife damage or loss.

In addition to helping to establish the CWCCCs, we’ve been supporting induction training for CWCCC members – ensuring that they fully understand their roles and responsibilities and are conversant in the relevant sections of wildlife legislation. We’ve also been helping the Lamu CWCCC to establish an action plan for Lamu County

By bringing CWCCCs from different counties together, we’ve been able to facilitate the sharing of experiences and lessons between CWCCCs – ultimately helping each committee to be stronger. We hope to encourage a coordinated approach from all the coastal counties in Kenya. This will help us to move towards the more sustainable use of marine natural resources and the management of wildlife to ensure thriving populations of flagship species, like marine turtles, all the while encouraging community participation in natural resource management!

WWF office © Cath LawsonWWF office © Cath Lawson

In future blogs we’ll tell you more about the initiatives that the CWCCC in Lamu is undertaking, with our  support, to ensure sustainable marine resource use.

We are grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting our conservation and community work in Lamu.

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