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The Stuff of Dreams

Swift but sure steps towards spatial planning and securing of wildlife corridors in Isiolo 


Some parts of this text are based on a post by the Isiolo County Government 


Opinion leaders from Oldonyiro town, Isiolo County, listen keenly to a briefing before traveling to Konza City where they learned how planning can be done to consider both development and wildlife corridors. The visit was part of stakeholder engagement in the town planning process being led by the County Government of Isiolo, supervised by Directorate of Physical Planning, and supported by the Wyss Academy for Nature, Save The Elephants and Northern Rangelands Trust. Photo: Kelah Kathure/ Wyss Academy

📍NANYUKI, Kenya

For most of us, some of the fondest childhood memories featured a hero of some kind; someone to look up to, to model our entire character around, and to grow up to be. To embody this hero, we learned everything there was to know about them: their values, their processes, and their likes and dislikes. In the same way, developing plans and implementing processes looks to existing—and successful—models such as Konza Technopolis for inspiration

 

Oldonyiro town in Isiolo county, Kenya, contends with ever-growing human settlements that threaten elephant corridors, in turn heightening human-wildlife conflict. The Isiolo County Government, in partnership with the Wyss Academy for Nature, Save the Elephants (STE), and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), is prioritizing smart urban planning for Oldonyiro town to secure these corridors, and ensure elephants in northern Kenya can move freely in their natural habitat.  

 

Antony Wandera, Projects Manager at the Wyss Academy Hub East Africa, said of the County’s initiative, “Oldonyiro town is a critical corridor connecting Laikipia to Isiolo and Samburu and is currently under threat of unplanned development from changes in land tenure. We welcome this effort because there is certainly a need for planning for wildlife connectivity alongside urban development, and to retain historical elephant routes in towns like Oldonyiro.”  

 

In March, 2024, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning of the Isiolo County Government hosted a site visit to Oldonyiro town to familiarize themselves with the elephant movements in and around Oldonyiro town, and threats brought by settlements to these routes. The objective of the visit was to gather insights towards co-designing a nature-focused town plan, as part of people-nature smart landscape and land-use planning for development. For its similarities to Oldonyiro as far as having a wildlife corridor, a first visit to Konza Technopolis followed, where the county planning team witnessed a successful planning and implementation model in action. A few weeks later, an extensive town planning concept for Oldonyiro—including a work plan and budget—was finalized by the key government departments and partners, and including the National Land Commission, and the National Survey department.  


The county planning team in Konza Technopolis where they witnessed a successful planning and implementation model in action. Photo: Konza Technopolis

On April 17, a second trip to Konza was held, this time for opinion leaders of Oldonyiro town. Speaking at a briefing session before travel, Alex Mungai, Physical Planner with the Isiolo County Government, shared that in addition to developing plans for Isiolo’s urban centers, it is critical that stakeholders at all levels—including residents—have a common understanding of the processes involved. He said, “Planning is a participatory and consultative process, which must have clear public participation to truly achieve citizen buy-in and ownership. By the end of the planning and approval process, the goal is that everyone—even at village level—knows what to expect.”   


John Letimalo, a business representative and opinion leader from Oldonyiro, expressed thanks for community inclusion, saying, “We count ourselves lucky for the opportunity to broaden our experiences, and to see what more is possible if we keep an open mind. You can count on us to apply the lessons learned from Konza, and to move the town planning project forward. Co-existing with the wildlife around us is beneficial to us, because without them there would be no planning.” 



As the town and corridor plans are developed, the anticipated long-term outcome is to support the conservancies and residents within them, and especially how residents can actively participate in managing and maintaining these corridors. Expounding on this sentiment, Mr. Wandera said, “In our mission to create a new relationship with nature, we recognize knowledge-action gaps that can be improved to restore healthy ecosystems. Where we see an imbalance in interactions with nature, we co-design solutions to prevent or repair the damage. With most of our projects, we prioritize connectivity and longevity, ensuring that these improved landscapes stand the test of time.” 


This partnership with the Isiolo County Government, and other stakeholders, reflects the interconnectedness in addressing the challenges faced by wildlife corridors in Oldonyiro town. Together, we can contribute to sustainable development, wildlife conservation, and the coexistence of ecosystems, people, and nature in the region.  

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