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The Mau forest region in Kenya is an important water source and vital for communities, businesses, and downstream wildlife reserves alike. Grazing is an important source of income and livelihood and one of the main causes of deforestation. At the same time, the cattle in the region are characterised by low productivity due to improper and insufficient feeding, pests and disease prevalence and generally, poor livestock management.

The Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) project aims to restore and conserve 60,000 hectares of the Mau Forest by the year 2030 by establishing financially viable public–private partnership governance models for sustainable land and water management in the vulnerable landscapes South-West of the Mau forest. The project is led by IDH and funded by Unilever Tea Kenya Limited and James Finlay Kenya Limited. On the invitation of and funded by IDH, SNV implements a livestock intensification component to develop an alternative livestock production system with the aim to raise incomes and enhance environmental sustainability. The project will run from July 2017 until end June 2019.

SNV pilots an alternative livestock grazing system for the communities living around the forest, to increase the productivity of these livestock while at the same time reducing livestock grazing in the forest. In this alternative system, livestock are reared in a semi zero-grazing system. Cows are kept overnight in a barn where they are provided with supplementary feeds, milked inseminated and calves are reared. SNV provides local farmers with training  courses and continuous mentoring to support them to adopt best cow rearing and feeding practices. and subsequently are expected to increase their production. The intervention will also be focused at establishing input as well as market linkages to enable the community members to access reliable inputs and markets for their livestock produce.

The ISLA project will partner with local governments, community members, local administration, national government departments concerned with forests and livestock, traders, and value chain actors to achieve its objectives. SNV aims to reach 200 households and establish 10 demonstration farms in the pilot project.

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Beatah Nzove

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