Improving Governance to Support Better Livelihood Security and Ecosystem Management in the Drylands of Africa


To strengthen natural resource governance by reducing marginilisation of ethnic groups in the drylands of Africa and improving policies and practices to ensure sustainable use of these resources and ecosystem conservation


Background and activities

IUCN and partners are working with various community organisations and political institutions to improve governance structures in the drylands of East and Northern Africa (Kenya and Mali). Activities are based on developing participatory decision-making processes and information sharing among multiple stakeholders at national, regional and local scales.

Drylands are geographically remote and governance is typically weak. Local governance mechanisms are currently poorly developed and not recognised by the state. Policies on natural resource use are in need of review in order to change the unsustainable management practices that degrade and threaten these fragile ecosystems.

In addition, communities living in drylands are often ethnically different from those in power and are currently socially and politically marginalised. This further constrains their capacities to voice their needs within the political framework.

In Garba Tula district in Kenya (Northeast of Nairobi and 60km from Meru National Park), IUCN and the Wildlife Resource Advocacy Programme (WRAP) are coordinating the development of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). They work with various community and local government institutions to build capacities and strengthen governance on the ground. IUCN and WRAP seek to formalise land rights by documenting local rules tied to natural resource management, creating by-laws, mapping the district's natural resources and developing a district natural resource management plan. This will ensure that development remains compatible with traditional pastoralism, the main economic activity in the area.

In Mali, this sub-project targets a transboundary ecosystem made up of La Gourma, an elephant reserve, and the Resèrve Sylvo Pastorale et Partielle de Faune du Sahel. There are efforts to develop the transboundary management strategy and IUCN and partners act as consultants for this process. In addition, they assist in the valuation of ecosystem services, build awareness in local communities and implement pilot management projects which they will monitor and evaluate.


This sub-project will enable IUCN and partners to identify pastoral practices that benefit the environment and use these to provide policy guidance for drylands management.

Documentation of communities, management practices and the institutional networks involved will allow IUCN and partners to improve governance structures and strengthen drylands natural resource management. As a result, local communities, indigenous institutions and government bodies dealing with environmental management issues will have greater capacity to engage in and foster more participatory decision-making processes to ensure effective long-term governance of these resources.


Participatory governance of natural resources can make local communities more powerful and significantly improve their lives. According to Hussein Ungiti it is “a way to bring local people together to protect, conserve and manage their land, water, animals and plants …. to enable willing community members to play a part in improving the quality of people’s lives – economically, culturally and spiritually”. Read more about what IUCN and partners have achieved in Northern Kenya.


IUCN-ESARO (East and Southern Africa Regional Office) is responsible for monitoring and evaluation of this sub-project.

IUCN partners lead work on the ground. These include: WRAP in Garba Tula District in Kenya and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory in Mali.

Funded by UKaid from the DFID's Governance and Transparency Fund
  • UKaid
  • Camels in Ksar Ghilane in South Tunisia

    Camels in Ksar Ghilane in South Tunisia

    Photo: IUCN Photo Library © Imène Meliane

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Preserving land and life in Garba Tula, Kenya

Preserving land and life in Garba Tula, Kenya