National Prosopis Strategy created with expertise from CABI and partners approved by Kenyan government

20 March 2024, Kenya: A National Prosopis Strategy (NPS) created with expertise from CABI and a range of partners has been approved by the Kenyan government to help protect the country’s environment, ecosystem services and livelihoods from Prosopis juliflora.

The National Strategy and Action Plan for the Management and Control of the Invasive Prosopis juliflora Tree Species 2023-2032 was given the green light by Kenya’s Cabinet. It will shortly be formally ratified by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry.

It introduces a framework that confines the existing invasions by preventing further spread to new areas through Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) measures that include biological, chemical and mechanical control methods.

Capitalizes on the findings of the CABI-led Woody Weeds project

CABI staff from CABI’s regional centre for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya (Dr Ivan Rwomushana, Winnie Nunda and Linda Likoko) and the Swiss Centre (Dr Urs Schaffner and Dr René Eschen) were involved in the drafting of the NPS.

It capitalizes on the findings of the CABI-led Woody Weeds project that facilitated the development of a common approach in policy formulation of long-term management of Prosopis juliflora in eastern Africa.

Structures set up in the strategy will enhance Kenya’s capacity and commitment to manage invasive weeds of national importance in general. The NPS will guide the management of Prosopis juliflora in 15 counties for the next 10 years.

Prosopis juliflora, a South American tree species, was identified and promoted in the drylands around the world in the past – including Kenya and other parts of eastern Africa – to address a myriad of problems including firewood demand, dust storms and environmental degradation.

Devastating consequences to the environment and livelihoods

However, the species, due to a lack of proper management and control spread beyond the targeted areas with devastating consequences to the environment and livelihoods.

Some of the areas include irrigation schemes of Bura and Hola (Tana River County), Perkerra and Lororro (Baringo County) and Katilu (Turkana County) that have been overrun by Prosopis and are now operating at less than 30% of their capacity.

Traditional livestock grazing areas are suppressed because the dry season grazing areas are invaded by Prosopis, and fishing in Lake Baringo and Lake Turkana and along rivers such as Turkwell, Kerio and Iwaso Nyiro are suppressed because most landing bays are submerged and covered by Prosopis bushes. Also, wildlife in protected areas such as Lake Bogoria National Reserve is threatened because Prosopis builds impenetrable thickets along the shoreline.

The species has also been associated with high water consumption, which contributes to water scarcity in ASALs and exacerbates the effects of droughts. The health effects of Prosopis include livestock deaths caused by consumption of excess sugar laden pods or through starvation due to rotting and loss of teeth.

Hon. Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Forestry, in the NPS, said Prosopis is considered to have devastating consequences on the overall ecosystem and the livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers threatened by the loss of critical dry season grazing areas, pastures and cropping areas.

Furthermore, in a press release issued by the Kenyan government, President William Ruto and the Cabinet noted that “the extent of invasion has escalated to emergency stage of the national disaster-risk index assessment scale’.

The strategy outlines that areas of intervention will undergo appropriate active land use in addition to restoration measures aimed at achieving the original status of the indigenous vegetation especially in areas of high conservation values.

It also states that The Ministry will ensure that annual activities for implementing the Strategy in line with our respective current strategic plans for our institutions are fully supported through our internal resources in addition to commitments from the affected Ministries, Counties, and development partners. This will ensure a smooth roll out of the activities in each of the affected counties during the Plan period.

The National Strategy and Action Plan for the Management and Control of the Invasive Prosopis juliflora tree species 2023-2032 is an additional set of programmes and policies aimed at catalyzing climate change adaptation within Kenyan’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

These include the Ministry of Interior and National Administration (MoINA), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MOA&LD), Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation (MoWS&I), and the Ministry of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development (MOLPWH&UD). Others are the Ministry of East African Community (EAC), The Ministry of Devolution and ASALs and Regional Development, National Treasury and Planning (NTP), Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MOE&P), and Attorney General Chambers (AG).

Dr Urs Schaffner, Head Ecosystems Management at CABI, said, “The National Prosopis Strategy could not have been achieved without strong collaboration between various government and non-government partners who share the same commitment of protecting Kenya’s environment, ecosystems and livelihoods from this nuisance weed.”

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