Area of Operation

Kivulini Trust operates in Northern Kenya. The region encompasses the old districts of Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale in northern Kenya and covers an area of 100,510 sq km with an approximate population of 400,000 inhabitants.

Why Northern Kenya?

Northern Kenya is characterized by low and unreliable rainfall (150-200 mm per year), high temperatures (30°C) and expansive scrublands, grasslands, extensive salt pans and lava-strewn desert plains with isolated extinct volcanic mountains.

Within this landscape is found a unique assemblage of faunal and floral diversity and important habitats that include Lake Turkana (which hosts Kenya’s largest concentration of Nile crocodiles), Mt. Kulal (world heritage site), Koobi Fora (World Heritage Site), Chalbi desert, Mt Marsabit (a unique Montane forest) and the Waso Nyiro River. The Grevy’s Zebra, the Beisa Oryx, the reticulated giraffe and the Somali Ostrich are among the endemic wildlife to this area.

The region is a home to diverse communities who have great pride in their heritage. They include the Gabbra, Boran, Saakuyye, Garri, Somali, Elmolo, Daasanach, Rendille, Samburu and the Turkana. These groups manage camels, cattle, sheep and goats which serve as source of livelihood. Other groups include the Konso, Waata and Burji who are blacksmiths, hunter-gathers and agro-pastoralists respectively.

The most important resource to the pastoralists is space. This natural asset, land, is central to the social, economic and spiritual well being of the communities whose conservation practices have ensured the survival of wildlife, catchments areas, water points, sacred sites and their livestock which need large space to track resources.


However pastoralists continue to face complex and inter-related challenges. The development of Northern Kenya region has been constrained by historical marginalisation. Development policies that are biased toward high agricultural potential areas have portrayed northern Kenya as a waste land. Regional integration into national socio-economic development is challenged by poor understanding and misconception about pastoralism by policy makers and the general public.  In addition, competition over limited resources has increased insecurity and ultimately hampered economic progress in the region.

Rapid change and outside influence pose serious threats to the culture and their family values of pastoralists. These range from abandonment of use and production of material culture to corruption of language and practices of traditional religion.

In addition, irrational development processes such as provision of water and creation of settlements in a haphazard manner have largely undermined the wisdom of the traditional authority structures that regulated mechanisms of access, management, and control of grazing and water resources and the necessary mobility of pastoralists.

Kivulini hopes to mitigate these challenges through the raising of community awareness, enhancement of participation, building capacity, creation of opportunities and assist communities in the management of change.