The selection of project districts and target areas was done during the project preparation phase based on discussions among stakeholders and in the project steering committee. Consultation was also carried out with KARI and other research partners in order to ensure that the selection process was based on empirical evidence on the selection indicators.
Aspects taken into consideration were the level and spread of land degradation, type of agro-ecological zone and current land use system. One criterion was that the district includes agro-pastoral communities, with a prevailing mixture of cropping and herding land use systems. Capacity of district authorities and availability of extension staffs were other considerations. Garissa was not originally considered among the selected districts.
However, during a later stage of the project preparation phase, it became clear that some of the other chosen districts had lower levels of pastoral land use than envisaged and it was considered important to include a more pastoral based district in the project. Care was taken to ensure a balance of similarities and differences between the chosen districts:
1. Narok North District was in the past mainly pastoral with minor cultivation but now most land is sub-divided & privatized with increase cultivation.
2. Mbeere district is Semi-Arid with cultivation dominating but also hosting some livestock.
3. Kyuso district is Agro-Pastoral with some mobility and immigrant herds.
4. Lagdera district is characterised by a more mobile pastoral system with cultivation restricted to homesteads and along rivers.
Activities in the four districts will include one or two landscape units per district. For the purposes of this project a “landscape unit” will comprise a defined area of grazing or agricultural land with shared topography and characteristics, where possible with natural boundaries, such as a river, gully or major change in gradient (e.g. hilltop) over which a “community” has control. Where this is not possible (Kyuso and Garissa), the administrative unit could be used for example, a “Location” (the administrative unit below a Division and normally comprising a group of villages). Although their size may vary, each landscape will cover a land area of approximately 2500 hectares, perhaps covering several Locations. The landscape may be privately owned (i.e. registered with Title Deed) or customary farmland, as well as communal grazing and bush land.
Narok North District : Narok North district is situated in the south-west of the country and in the southern part of Rift Valley Province. There are two main areas - the highland zone above 2300m and the lowland zone between 1000m and 2300m above sea level. During the PDF-B phase the district was subdivided into two districts, Narok North and Narok South and project activities will be concentrated in Narok North. The two districts have a combined population of 460,975 persons (2006 population projections) and cover an area of 15,087.8 km2.
Mbeere District : Mbeere District is one of the thirteen districts that form Eastern Province. It was carved from the larger Embu District in 1996 and its headquarters is located at Siakago township. This district covers a total area of 2,092.5 km² with an estimated population of 200,371 (Republic of Kenya, 2005). The district borders Embu District and Tharaka District to the northwest and north, Mwingi District to the east, Machakos District to the south and southeast and Kirinyaga District to the west.. The altitude ranges from around 500m above sea level on the Tana River basin to 1,200m above sea level.
Kyuso District : Kyuso district borders Kitui District to the south, Machakos District to the west, Mbeere and Meru South District to the north and Tana River District to the east. The area is generally plain with a few inselbergs in Mumoni, Nuu and Migwani Divisions. The highest point of the district is Mumoni Hill, with an altitude of 1,747 meters above sea level. The landscape is generally flat, but slopes gently towards the east and northeast where the altitude is as low as 400m. The district covers an area of 10,030 km² and has a population of 303,828 (1999 population census), with an average population density of 47 persons per km².
Garissa District : Garissa district is located 200km further north of Kyuso and is arid. It is one of the districts in Kenya hosting a Millennium Development Village; and FFS initiatives in the Ndertu landscape area will be linked to the village interventions. Pastoralism is the main land use system, although there is irrigated agriculture along the riverine strip. FFS in pastoralist areas is a new concept. The challenge will be to find ways of reversing land degradation through livestock interventions when high livestock numbers are the main cause of the degradation. Much potential and interest for Aloe production and pasture regeneration by reseeding has been expressed by district stakeholders.