The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced a new, three-year Local Works program that will provide up to $7 million to support local communities in the Mara landscape and Northern and Coastal Kenya as they recover from the loss of tourism and livelihoods because of the pandemic of COVID-19. USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa and U.S. Ambassador Kyle McCarter announced the program during a visit to the Naboisho Conservancy.
USAID’s Local Works will engage local Kenyan 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 gain access to funding necessary for them to thrive and establish stable livelihoods. The program highlights the U.S. Government’s priority to support partnerships that are Kenyan-owned, Kenyan-led, and Kenyan-managed at the local level.
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 insecurity and conflict, poverty rates over and above the national average, chronic food-insecurity, and inadequate access to quality health care. These areas 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, invasions of desert locusts, and landscapes exposed to severe degradation because of unplanned grazing. Communities and landowners in these landscapes depend heavily on nature-based tourism, conservation and other conservation-compatible uses of land for their livelihoods and socio-economic well-being.
By working with locally led conservancies, the United States will continue to champion innovative leadership for conservation and economic investments as a pathway to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities in Kenya. The leadership and members of the conservancies will drive the program, which will pursue what they identify as their highest priorities.