From herdsmen to safari guides : an assessment of environmental partnerships at IL Ngwesi, Laikipia district, Kenya.
This thesis provides an analysis of a community based conservation project in northern Kenya and also considers broader theoretical questions relating to the establishment of successful environmental partnerships. In East Africa, pastoralist communities are threatened by the erosion of their resource base, delicately balanced ecosystems are being progressively degraded, and the conflict between wildlife conservation and other forms of land use is escalating. The challenge faced by rural communities is to achieve socioeconomic growth in conjunction with environmental conservation and social stability. Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDP's) and Ecotourism projects have been attempted in underdeveloped areas with the objective of enhancing biodiversity conservation through approaches which endeavour to address the needs, opportunities and constraints faced by rural communities. The hope is that communities will develop a vested interest in maintaining biodiversity (wildlife) on their land so as to sustain the income it generates. While some successes have been recorded, critical analysis by researchers suggests that a number of problems beset such projects and few have met their objectives. The case study examined here is both an ICDP and an Ecotourism project. It is a community based conservation effort on the communally owned II Ngwesi Group Ranch, in the Laikipia district, in semi-arid/arid Maasailand in northern Kenya. This area sustains important wildlife populations but as human population pressures increase the future of the permanent and migratory animals that occupy this land is in question. An initiative was undertaken in 1996 by the community in partnership with the neighbouring private ranch to build a lodge on the land and to start protecting an area for tourism use. The aim of this thesis is to examine the project as an example of an environmental partnership and consider what implications the partnership itself might have for future initiatives. The II Ngwesi project is categorised according to the environmental partnership theory, which assisted in describing some of its operating features and success factors. The thesis argues that, in thinking about how to achieve a working management of natural resources in similar contexts, careful consideration must be given to the nature of environmental partnerships that often constitute the basis of ICDP/ecotourism projects. These factors can be taken into account in developing more successful initiatives in the future.