We were invited by Caritas Austria to design and facilitate a multi-stakeholder conference on the future of pastoralism in the Marsabit region in northern Kenya.
The purpose of this conference was to share knowledge and practices on pastoralists’ livelihood, to discuss new possibilities and alternatives for the future. The aim was to identify feasible new ways of working together and inform a new approach that all involved stakeholders could take into their work and life.
The process was divided in two phases. In November 2012 a small group traveled to six of the pastoralist communities in Marsabit. The field trip was to gather the wisdom and insights from tribal community members about past, present and future resilience practices. In each location a process was facilitated that allowed women, youth and men to reflect and share among themselves and then with the whole. The findings were gathered, summarised in a report and shared at the knowledge conference in January.
In January 2013 45 diverse stakeholders gathered in Marsabit for a 4 day knowledge conference. One third of the participants were pastoralists themselves. Two representatives (one man and one woman) per ethnic group had been selected by the communities themselves during the field trip. The other participants were development workers of local and international NGOs, UN agencies, donor agencies who are working with pastoralists in Northern Kenya, scientists with research and practical experience in specific fields related to livelihood in arid and semi arid lands and government representatives – in total around 45 people.
Over 4 days the group went through a deep learning process and discovery of the various challenges and opportunities facing pastoralists in the Marsabit region today. On day one the county commissioner welcomed the group, major findings from the field trip in November were presented, each person had a chance to share with the whole group the questions and resources they were bringing to this event. On the second day the whole group went to visit a nearby pastoralist community which was a profound experience that really brought the group together. The afternoon was spent reflecting and sharing what the group had learned form the journey. On day three learning sessions were held about high level topic areas like peace and conflict, climate change and natural resource management and an exploration about how change happens based on everyone’s experience. In the afternoon participants decided themselves what conversations they wanted to have to explore potential pathways for the future. The final day was dedicated to ‘harvesting’ – making sure the participants could take the fruits of their learning home to their organisations and communities.
Post conference outcomes:
1. Founding of a Marsabit County Local Network
One result of the conference was the creation of a legal network of all local stake-holders present in Marsabit. Caritas Austria together with Pacida and the Diocese of Marsabit took the lead on the establishment of the MIONET network.
The main objectives and activities of the network are defined as “Coordination and Collaboration”, “Advocacy and Lobbying”, “Learning and Knowledge sharing”, “Capacity Building”.
2. Follow up on the Content related Findings of the Conference
Caritas Austria together with the Diocese of Marsabit and Pacida started a training on assessment and proposal writing in Marsabit. The results of the field assessment (ongoing) will be linked with the outputs of the conference. The follow up of the upcoming activities will in future be done by the MIONET network.