Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) Conference
Kenya’s Vision 2030 identifies the development of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) counties as a top priority. In order catalyze the economic transformation of the ASAL regions; Kenya hosted the inaugural ASAL conference from September 5 to 7, 2018. The National government through the Ministry of Devolution and ASAL counties, the State Department for ASAL and the Council of Governors organised the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) Conference.
Held in Malindi, Kilifi County under the theme “Unlocking the Potential of ASALs for Accelerated National Development, delegates included County governments, donor community, the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) and non-governmental organisations. The conference brought together 29 counties in a four day event aimed at stimulating economic growth.
The conference aimed at creating a platform for prioritisation and realigning of ASALs development agenda with the national development priorities. Participants in the inaugural conference held at Ocean Beach Resort, Malindi, in Kilifi County included ministry officials, departments and agencies, the 29 ASAL county governments, politicians, development partners and the private Sector.The 29 ASAL counties are Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia, Narok, Kajiado, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Embu, Migori, Homa Bay, Nakuru and Kiambu.
RCMRD as a Delegate
The Conference brought together key stakeholders to showcase what they are doing about enhancing peoples’ resilience to Climate Change, improve visibility, interact and impart skills and knowledge on ASALs.
Joseph Murage the Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist and Kenneth Kasera the User Engagement Lead of RCMRD participated in the Conference with support from USAID by Partnership for Resilience & Economic Growth (PREG). RCMRD's exhibition booth provided an opportunity to meet stakeholders and show case RCMRD's role through capacity building in environmental management and resilience to climate change through integration of Earth Observation information and geospatial technologies into development decision-making.
Key areas discussed
Key areas of discussion included: Taking stock of opportunities, challenges and progress to inform development of the ASALs; Strengthening the coordination and engagement of partners in ASALs development;
Development and adoption of a roadmap to address emerging ASALs developmental needs; Creating a mechanism to track the implementation of outcomes arising from the conference and Alignment of ASALs development plans and priorities to the Kenya’s Vision 2030, and the Big 4 Development Agenda.
Big 4 Development Agenda
The Big Four Agenda is aimed at accelerating economic growth focusing on manufacturing, food security and nutrition, and providing universal health coverage and affordable housing. This Agenda sits within the global, continental and national development contexts. At the global level, the Big Four Agenda is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, upon which the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are anchored. At the continental level, the Big Four Agenda aligns with Africa’s Agenda 2063 themed “The Africa We Want”. This agenda sets out Africa’s aspirations for development by 2063 and is founded on the desire for shared prosperity and well-being, for unity and aspiration, for inclusive growth and people-driven sustainable development. In the national context, the Big Four are pegged on the Kenya Vision 2030 and mainstreamed in the third-Medium Term Plan (2018-2022) of the Vision.
The Big Four Agenda is also a step in the realisation of the country’s Constitutional obligations. Indications are that a wide range of stakeholders are willing to support and partner with the Government on the implementation of the agenda including the County Governments.
Possible Partnerships for RCMRD
Key stakeholders that the Centre had an opportunity to work with and after follow up include:The County Government of Nyeri; County Government of Samburu; County Government of Isiolo; Kerio Valley Development Authority;
Commission on Revenue Allocation; National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU); State Department for Development of the ASALs and Garissa University.
Lessons from the Devolution Conference
The environment in the ASALs poses big challenges. Drought is the single biggest threat to livelihoods, occurring more frequently and with greater intensity in recent years. In 2017, the ASALs faced a drought emergency with an estimated 3.4 million people not having enough to eat. And the drought was followed by unprecedented heavy rainfall and flash floods, resulting in casualties and livestock disease outbreaks in the same regions.RCMRD learnt that there was need to develop targeted key messages to address key issues in environmental management. The Centre staff also got feedback on improving the RCMRD brand by for instance including more information like the Vision statement on promotional items like bags in addition to the RCMRD logo. It was also recommended that RCMRD develops an RCMRD dissemination plan and an improvement in management of visibility materials especially banners and brochures.
After the conference, the delegates came up with resolutions including developing a policy to enhance investment in arid areas to spur inclusive growth.