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BLOG: The Camel Caravan


How to get the attention from the government, private sector, communities and press at the same time for water availability problems downstream the river? In Kenya local indigenous peoples organizations managed to come up with an eye-catching initiative. They organized a Camel Caravan.

The Camel Caravan in Kenya. Photo by Wetlands International Africa

Borana & Samburu pastoralist communities and camels started simultaneously at the upstream and midstream part of the Waso Ngiro river in North Kenya and walked two hundred kilometers for seven days and nights. Through the action they connected all the different river users and made them aware of the problems of decreased water availability being faced downstream.

Funding commitments

The private sector that was targeted includes tourist lodges, farmers and local communities. Pressure of water use upstream has led to the fact that the once permanent river has become a seasonal river downstream. This shortage of water worsens the already tough life of the pastoralist people which suffer from severe droughts and face even harsher conditions with more droughts to be expected as a result of climate change. When the heavy rains come, the degraded river basin can no longer regulate the water flow, which has result in severe flash floods downstream and, as people were not alarmed in time, to large loss of livestock.

The Camel Caravan event generated much national and local media attention and raised the awareness not only among the specific ‘users’ of the river but among a large group of stakeholders a donor conference that took place after the caravan resulted in funding commitments to support local organizations to protect and restore the river and to reduce abstraction.

This action was organized as part of our disaster risk reduction programme in which we collaborate with CARE, Cordaid, the Red Cross and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Transforming towards sustainable livelihoods

In Kenya our programme supports many activities to increase people’s resilient against natural hazards. We support for instance the planting of multi purpose and drought tolerant trees and provide 30,000 households with fuel saving stoves and 5,000 households with solar charged power to reduce the pressure on forests. We also try to ban charcoals burning and provide people with alternative livelihoods.

We engage 20,000 of the most vulnerable households in sustainable livelihood options, such as using harvested rainwater, dryland farming with minimum tillage, improved rangeland and water resource management and planting valuable crops such as fruit trees. We establish early warning & early action systems for floods and droughts and strengthen local community institutions to become less dependent on foreign aid programmes.

Watch the Camel Caravan. Video by Impact

Read more about Reducing Disaster Risk or visit Wetlands International Africa for more information on the aims and activities of our work in Kenya. 

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Communications and Advocacy Department