As the Manager of the Lekurruki Conservation Trust, Peter Matunge is responsible for improving the natural resources upon which the people depend, as well as protecting the conservancy's many species of wildlife. In an area as remote as Lekurruki in Northern Kenya, where droughts and high levels of poverty persist, he has his work cut out.

Excellent Development has been supporting the Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT) with the construction of sand dams in 2015. We spent some time with Peter Matunge to learn more about the conservancy, the people that live there and his work.

How did the conservancy come into being?

Lekurruki conservancy was started in 1999 by the community of Lekurruki with the vision that it would help them to achieve some social, economic and ecological sustainability. Peter Matunge, Manager of Lekurruki Conservation TrustThis area, before the establishment of conservancy, was prone to poaching and insecurity and people were suffering from poverty due to degraded land.

"Last year we had a drought here and we spent a million (Kenyan shillings) to bring in water from outside - money that could have gone to support bursaries and teachers and help with other community projects. Excellent coming to build sand dams is filling a big gap."

Peter Matunge, Manager of Lekurruki Conservation Trust, Northern Kenya.

What kind of work does the conservancy do?

We have three key programmes. One is security. We have a team of rangers who are trained to provide security for the wildlife and people.

The other thing we do is rangeland management. The objective is to increase the productivity of the land. This is a community that depends on land, so if the land doesn't produce, the community can't earn anything.

Thirdly, we do community work. We construct schools and we also fundraise to support infrastructure, such as roads. We support education through bursaries and engage six teachers.

What are your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is unpredictable changes in climate. Rains here are erratic. We used to have two rainy seasons in every year but now you don't expect that. So we might get good rains this year, next year we might not have good rains. So that's the biggest problem.

Another challenge is encroachment from neighbouring communities. Because we are able to plan and get good grass and pasture in the conservancy, other people come here because they are desperate. We want to help, but there needs to be a system so we can manage resources in a sustainable way, so we are having a lot of meetings and dialogues, trying to resolve and prevent conflict.

Despite these challenges, what have you been able to achieve?

When I came here in 2012, this conservancy didn't have a single primary school. So I'm very proud that by next year we will have a full primary school from class 1 to class 8.

We have also cleared over 200 hectares of land that was infested by invasive species. We reseeded that land with grass. When we started, we bought grass seeds from other areas, but now we are harvesting grass locally and have seed banks so we can re-seed our land sustainably.

How do you think sand dams will help?

Last year we had a drought here and we spent a million (Kenyan shillings) to bring in water from outside - money that could have gone to support bursaries and teachers and help with other community projects. Excellent coming to build sand dams is filling a big gap.

Do you think there’s potential for sand dams to help more people in northern Kenya?

Almost 80% of the conservancies in Northern Kenya are located in areas with water constraints, so there is a possibility that the idea of sand dams can be a very important source of water for the other conservancies.

sand dam in lekurruki

The first sand dam built in Lekurrki in February 2015 has already raised groundwater levels.

More are needed to transform the entire area.

Please consider making a donation today to enable more pastoralist communities to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands, providing their families, neighbours, livestock as well as wildlife with clean water for life.

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