Improving livelihoods through sustainable government, NGO, private partnerships in South Nandi Forest, Western Kenya

The RSPB obtained funds from the Department for International Development (DFID) in 2007 to begin a livelihoods and conservation project at the globally important South Nandi Forest in Kenya.

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Since the project started, 10 community groups have already formed, there is a significant rise in support for the forest, encroachment has reduced and local people are benefiting from sustainable forest-based activities.
We began work in Kenya in 1994 and as a result of our support Nature Kenya has implemented a number of very successful conservation programmes focusing on using the skills and enthusiasm of local people to lead conservation efforts. 
We consider Kenya a high priority, and Nature Kenya has proven itself to be an effective conservation partner. South Nandi Forest emerged for a prioritisation process as one of the most valuable Kenyan forests facing imminent threats and lacking an effective conservation response. The forest contains 47 forest specialist species and is the global stronghold for the threatened Turner’s eremomela. It also has many other important wildlife species including leopard and giant forest hog.

However, it is threatened by commercial logging and by over hunting and over-exploitation by poor rural communities. Pilot work by NatureKenya had shown that the communities living around South Nandi Forest were interested and able to work effectively on community conservation based programme and so the RSPB submitted an application to DFID for the current programme.


  • South Nandi and surrounding forests are conserved in perpetuity by and for stakeholders, securing a more prosperous, sustainable local economy.
  • Project partnerships and management processes formalised and maintained, forming a basis for future sustainability of project initiative.
  • Forest Adjacent Communities (FACs), especially women, have a stronger collective voice and a process through which to gain their rights to benefit from the forest resources of South Nandi.
  • FACs are receiving greater income and benefits from sustainable native forest-based enterprises by having gained their rights to benefit from forest resources and increased capacity to maximise these.
  • FACs are receiving greater income and benefits from working in partnership with government estates and private companies to replace use of native wood.
  • Local institutions (government, community based organisations - CBOs) have increased capacity and better governance to support local communities in claiming their rights to manage, regulate and monitor the sustainable use of natural resources for sustainable living.
  • Increase local and national awareness of 1) the importance of South Nandi forest and its resources, 2) the rights of FACs to benefit from forest resources, and 3) the need to provide mechanisms and processes to enable FACs to claim these rights.

Key Dates

  • 2000 - Important Bird Areas in Kenya is published by NatureKenya with support from RSPB, detailing the value of and threats to 60 key biodiversity areas in Kenya. Conservation priorities including South Nandi are established.
  • 2003 - Links established between NatureKenya and a local community group in South Nandi Forest and idea of a larger community-based conservation programme established.
  • 2007 - Funding received for conservation and livelihoods programme at South Nandi from Civil Society Challenge Fund of the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID). Project team established and office established at Kobujoi.
  • 2008 - Project delayed by post election violence in the Rift Valley area. However the project team rapidly reasserts its presence and plays an important role in helping local communities around the project area to recover within the context of project objectives.

Planned Work

Priorities for the coming year of the project include:
  • Continuing many of the successful activities of the project so far.
  • The expansion of income generating activities, especially in herbal medicine and ecotourism. 
  • Marketing initiatives to ensure ready markets for local sustainably produced goods.
  • Producing a participatory forest management plan in partnership with the government’s Kenya Forest Service.
  • Training for local government officials – key for sustainability that they play a bigger part in forest activities.
  • Helping local people to advocate for their needs, and spread lessons learned from the project to other forested areas of Kenya.


The project has been running for two years and has established a firm presence and made an impact in the rural areas around the forest. Among successes are:
  • Good local buy in with 20 local organisations represented on a project implementation committee.
  • 55 local stakeholders given training in participatory forest management – the basis for future forest conservation work.
  • More than half a square kilometre of degraded forest replanted and rehabilitated.
  • 36 community forest guards recruited – marked reduction in illegal forest activities.
  • 180 farmers trained in beekeeping, 600 hives distributed and  harvesting due to start July 2009.
  • 200,000 tree seedlings established by 28 locally established community nurseries. Markets established with six nearby tea estates.
  • 280 people trained in alternative energy techniques and small businesses developed by local women to produce fireless cookers.
  • Training activities for 10 local community groups working on natural resource management around the forest.
  • 15,000 people given environmental awareness training. Working with 25 local wildlife clubs where school tree nurseries have been established.
  • The project is housed in a community HIV awareness centre and has held joint awareness sessions with HIV centre staff and provided income generating help to HIV-affected households.


Species affected (not UK birds)

The work is focused on the threatened forest birds of Western Kenya, in particular the globally threatened Turners eremomela and 47 key forest specialists.



Tagged with: Country: Kenya Project status: Ongoing [Missing text '/categories/category[@name="Root"]/description' for 'English']: Countries