Participants in an arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) county workshop. Photo credit: Africa Lead
Drought emergency, human conflict, and endemic poverty is a chronic risk for communities in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). Spanning 23 counties and representing 89 percent of the country’s land mass and 18 of the 20 poorest constituencies in Kenya, these ASALs are home to predominately pastoralist communities. In recent years, these communities have experienced major livestock losses that have led to food insecurity and severe socioeconomic consequences – millions now rely on long-term humanitarian aid.
USAID Kenya’s Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) has been working in the ASALs since 2013. Bringing together implementing partners in the region, PREG is USAID Kenya’s approach to diligently convening and coordinating efforts among USAID’s 17 implementing partners in the region, including Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and county governments. The effort seeks to amplify and streamline USAID’s investments focused on improving and building more resilient and food-secure communities.
Over the past year, Africa Lead has supported USAID as the lead learning partner to guide and facilitate Kenya PREG partners through a focused and directed learning process to strengthen and improve PREG’s already impressive collaboration and learning efforts. Africa Lead’s scope of work has covered three main objectives: 1) develop and implement a learning agenda for PREG; 2) provide institutional support to NDMA’s Pillar 6: Institutional Development and Knowledge Management, in implementation of Kenya’s Ending Drought Emergency (EDE) Strategy; and 3) support evidence-based policy and investment choices by EDE stakeholders for building resilience and economic growth in target counties.
The PREG Learning event brought together more than 50 partners from across PREG’s partnership at the national and county levels to develop a learning agenda for the partnership. Photo credit: Africa Lead
Venny Mayaka, with USAID Kenya’s Resilience and Economic Growth in Arid Lands – Accelerated Growth (REGAL-AG) project emphasized the importance of PREG’s efforts to coordinate and link activities more closely. “Early on we used to compete in the way we implement activities, beneficiaries, and areas of support. It used to be more or less like a competition. And that used to be a big problem when it came to implementation of programs working with communities. But right now as it is, the greatest success with PREG is that the activities are now layered, in a way that one partner complements the other partner and now funds are being utilized in a better way.”
In August 2016, Africa Lead facilitated a PREG learning event, bringing together more than 50 partners from across PREG’s partnership at the national and county levels to develop a learning agenda for the partnership. During the event, PREG partners also adopted a collaborative framework for collective action to ensure sustainability of the partnership’s activities. One of the recommendations to come out of the PREG learning event was the need for joint work planning by PREG partners. To support this, a team from Africa Lead conducted a PREG needs assessment in Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa counties in November 2016 to review the state of the PREG partnership in the different counties.
“Following the needs assessment in the five counties, we designed a curriculum for joint work planning and team building workshops. The curriculum incorporated a brief overview of key concepts on partnership and collaboration, and an action planning template to capture areas where the partners wanted to improve collaboration as well as identify new opportunities for layering and sequencing,” recounts Hellen Kariuki, Africa Lead’s Regional Resilience Program Coordinator.
The objective of the joint work planning workshops was to help participants develop the skills, understanding, and knowledge needed for effective partnership and collaboration, and to identify new areas for collaboration and interventions. The workshops also balanced core knowledge with highly interactive, experiential learning through team building, and peer-to-peer exchange along the five critical work streams of collaboration and partnership. Participants included USAID implementing partners, county government officials, NDMA representatives, and USAID officials. At the end of each workshop, participants agreed on a county work plan, singled out two sites where they were already implementing different activities, and identified ways to coordinate and integrate their activities to benefit the respective communities.
For example, in Isiolo County, PREG partners identified different activities they were implementing in Oldonyiro Ward and Burat Ward and developed a joint action plan that will help them better coordinate their activities in the next financial year.
Following the success of the county workshops, USAID Kenya and Africa Lead are planning a national-level joint work planning workshop in Nairobi to build on the county-level workshops in the next quarter. Participants at the national-level workshop will include USAID officials and Chiefs of Party of PREG partner organizations. Similar to the county workshops, the main objective of the workshop will be to identify areas for collaboration and draft a joint action plan in advance of the official work planning schedule for the 2018 financial year.