Investing in Food Systems in Kenya's Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

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This report presents lessons from other donor Food & Nutrition Security (FNS) interventions in the Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and informs the formulation of The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kenya' s FNS investment priorities in the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) region.

It serves as a building block for operationalising strategies that focus on stability and is fully inclusive with particular attention on ASALs. The report provides an overview of the ASALs food systems, the lessons learned and offers recommendations for an integrated FNS programme in the Northern ASALs.

The ASAL areas in Kenya are very complex for two reasons. Firstly, the primary production system, pastoral livestock economy, is a very rational resource use system developed and practiced by pastoralists. Secondly, poor understanding and misconceptions of pastoral production systems have been incorporated in development policies and other engagement in pastoral development in the ASALs, leading to a problematic legacy that is characterized by several marginalisation processes which have undermined pastoralists’ rationale and coping strategies. 

Key challenges noted were the following. Firstly, the lack of sound problem analysis in programme design often led to a simplified Theory of Change and low quality of internal M&E systems. Secondly, the lack of conflict sensitivity of ASAL programmes and the consequent lack of consideration for local competition for scarce resources often led to ineffective interventions. Thirdly, many donor interventions were characterized by an overall lack of reported results (outcomes and impact, intentional and unintentional) in the project documentation, which makes it difficult to assess the quality of specific approaches used. Finally, the voice of pastoralists and their local institutions - particularly marginalised groups, such as women, minorities, and people with disabilities - was not given much attention in project formulation and implementation. Another area in which progress has been lacking is donor efforts that support an enabling environment in the ASALs towards improving service provision and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

This report provides recommendations for more effective programme design, for more effective programme implementation and management of ASAL food systems, and for more synergy, strategic partnerships and sustainability.

Share your own experiences!

What experiences do you have with food system challenges and solutions in arid and semi-arid lands? Either in Kenya or in a different country. We are curious to hear from you!


Agriprofocus by Masha Bakker 6045 min

Ibrahim Palaz

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