NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – The United States has announced a new Sh759 million 3-year Local Works program in the Mara landscape, Northern, and Coastal Kenya to support local communities recover from the loss of tourism and livelihoods due to adverse impacts of COVID-19.
In a statement, the US says it will implement the program through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Local Works will engage local leaders and community members to design solutions that will attract and increase private sector investment, support the economic empowerment of local communities, especially for women and youth, and enhance the capacity of community conservancies to access funding necessary for them to thrive and establish stable livelihoods.
The program highlights the U.S. priority to support partnerships that are Kenya-owned, Kenya-led, and Kenya-managed at the local level. Ambassador Kyle McCarter and USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa announced the program during a visit to the Naboisho Conservancy.
“Tourism is critical to a strong Kenyan economy and the United States is committed to helping Kenya’s magnificent tourist areas remain strong as tourists start to return,” said Ambassador McCarter. “By focusing our assistance directly to and for local communities, we ensure the funds are used by those who know what is needed best and increase transparency and accountability. USA Marafiki means making sure our support goes where it is needed,” he emphasized.
Acting Administrator Barsa said, “Local Works will focus on conserving biodiversity and wildlife, increasing women’s participation in the governance and leadership processes and provide opportunities for women-owned, conservation-focused enterprises.”
The Local Works program targets vast geographic areas that are home to some of the most vulnerable communities in Kenya. The target areas have a history of the highest levels of economic and conflict insecurity, poverty rates over and above the national average, chronic food insecurity and inadequate access to quality health services. In addition, these areas also have disproportionately high unemployed youth populations and significant gender disparities.
The communities in the Local Works catchment areas also face environmental threats including high levels of wildlife poaching, desert locust invasions and landscapes exposed to severe degradation due to unplanned grazing. Communities and landowners in these landscapes depend heavily on nature-based tourism, conservation and other conservation-compatible land uses for their livelihoods and socio-economic well-being.
By partnering with locally-led conservancies, the United States will continue to champion innovative local leadership for conservation and economic investments as a pathway to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities in Kenya. The program will be fully driven by conservancy leadership and their members and grounded on what they identify as their highest priorities.