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The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and the Environmental Resources Management Center for Sustainable Development (ERMCSD) in coordination with the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) for developing a sustainable, community market oriented approach that builds climate resilience and improves livelihoods in the transboundary Mt. Elgon Landscape. Between March and October 2014, Ecoagriculture and ERMCSD will work with farmers and leaders of strategic public, private and civic sector groups, agencies and businesses in the Mt. Elgon region of Kenya and Uganda to facilitate a spatially explicit vision and business model designed to open access to markets by smallholder farmers while protecting and restoring vital ecosystem services upon which local agriculture and livelihoods depend.

The Mt. Elgon ecosystem straddles the frontier between Kenya and Uganda and is a major catchment for Lake Victoria the Nile River system and Lake Turkana. It supplies a range of ecosystem goods and services to over 2 million people in Kenya and Uganda. Most people are poor, and place tremendous pressure on the integrity of the ecosystem.  This has prompted conflicts arising from competition for dwindling natural resources in fast degrading landscape. Since most communities are abandoning sustainable traditional forest use practices for more destructive activities.

For sustainable management of Mt. Elgon ecosystem and its multiple functions and services, a new approach to regional transboundary ecosystem management approach is envisioned that leverages community based markets for conversation. Success of the new approach will depend on developing institutional collaboration between stakeholders, empowering communities, and guaranteeing that ecosystem services benefits reach all in the landscape.

Different approaches applied in Mt. Elgon landscape to date either singly or combinations have contributed to securing the integrity of the biodiversity in protected areas (PAs). The boundaries of the PAs were secured and rehabilitation /restoration initiatives of the national parks, (NPs) and forest reserves (FRs) on the Kenya and Uganda sides of Mt. Elgon have continued. The efforts towards joint/coordinated law enforcement by Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Uganda Wildlife Authority and National Forest Authority have been initiated.

There have been various challenges towards the restoration of ecosystem health in Mt. Elgon landscape like frequent fires, invasive species, encroachment, illegal harvesting/logging, charcoal production, conflicts arising from competition over dwindling resources and poaching. Also land degradation in agricultural landscapes on the lower slopes of Mt. Elgon remains a challenge and is a threat to long-term sustainability of biodiversity in protected areas.

To deal with all these, a landscape partnership approach will be proposed to provide opportunity for mobilizing and convening different stakeholders and resources to simultaneously pursue strategies and interventions that.

Integrated management of land, water and living resources, promote sustainable use and conservation in an equitable manner. In so doing, the interconnectedness of economic activities such as agriculture value chains and trade, biodiversity conservation (national parks, forest reserves, water) food security, and poverty reduction in the Mt. Elgon landscape will be advanced.  This approach provides opportunity for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation concerns into the commodity market dynamics in the Mt. Elgon Landscape.

The overall objective of this project is to develop a sustainable community market driven approach /model to improve livelihoods in the Mt. Elgon Landscape. Establish baseline and M&E systems for the pilot landscapes in Mt.  Elgon region.

Consultations will  take place with relevant stakeholders at ecosystem, national and regional levels aimed at:  developing a sustainable community markets approach/model/identification of climate smart agriculture best practices to be replicated in the Mt. Elgon landscape , identification and the sustainable community markets based approach , proposing an effective extension model for the implement of community markets based approach/model and climate smart agriculture and development of the integrated  M&E system for the identified landscapes.

About 82,000 households are expected to benefit from the private sector community partnership model. A market –oriented production system, which can be achieved through intensification of climate smart agricultural  (CSA) production systems , increased commercialization and specialization in higher value chains , will be designed and promoted.

Transboundary natural resource management (TBNRM) as a concept for the management of shared ecosystems cannot thrive without the involvement of local communities, non-government organizations (both local and international) private and public sectors. It is noted that there are various partners active in Mt. Elgon landscape (and others could be brought on board) and the interventions are scattered and uncoordinated.

Scope of work will entail undertaking a comprehensive mapping of key players active in the Mt. Elgon landscape, capturing their roles and mandates and what their contribution could be towards implementation of community markets based approach /model in the Mt. Elgon landscape and climate smart agriculture.