Land Grab and Dwindling Water Resources: Reconciling competing claims and conflicts over natural resources in Africa's dry lands, specifically Kenya.


Conflicts over natural resources in semi-arid Africa especially concerning water resources and pastures seem to be on the rise. Besides a fast growing population and climate change, causes are increasingly originating from newly introduced economic activities, some faraway. For example, water sources and pastures are diminishing because of growing numbers of upstream cultivators, including export-oriented producers. Furthermore, land ?grabbed? by (foreign) investors takes away grazing areas. The project will assess the role of key actors, analyse impacts, and describe the cause-effect relationships between conflict, climate change and outside interference. Specific attention will be devoted to future scenarios. Satellite imagery analysis will present future scenarios to the basin stakeholders. The matching of today?s local knowledge and needs to likely conditions in 2030 should reveal the (future) hot spots of resource competition. There is a serious urgency to find solutions for off-farm non-sustainable effects. Failure to do so risks a situation of a ruined natural environment and huge conflicts between many resource users, such as horticultural companies, pastoralists, small farmers and others.

The reseach component will look into three hypotheses that call for empirical testing:
1. Increased diversification of household economies leads to intensified occurrence of conflicts
2. Sudden changes in resource availability cause conflicts
3. The absence of (effective) institutions allows for more conflicts over natural resources

Besides the academic interest a key objective of the project is to assist local conflict mitigation initiatives by introducing reconciliation efforts using research findings successfully implemented elsewhere. The programme will collaborate with local (land) networks, farmers? and pastoralists? organisations and donors enabling the dissemination of research results into action-oriented technical and economic
development efforts. The CoCooN programme is also a unique chance to revisit the accomplishments of Dutch sponsored aid programmes conduced in the past in Kenya?s semi-arid regions, especially in water development. Likewise it offers an opportunity to study environmental side effects of the more recent public-private partnerships providing economic growth. The study will be carried out in four river basins in Kenya (Lake Turkana, Ewaso Ny?iro North, the Tana river and Athi catchment). The proposed research and its expected outcomes meet the global goals of the Millennium Development Goals. Long term experiences of the Consortium partners in these regions should make available technical, legal and governance solutions to address the huge challenges ahead. The findings are expected to have relevance for understanding and solving resource-based conflicts in the wider Horn of Africa.



W 07.68.303.00


Mw. G. Petit

Verbonden aan

African Studies Centre


Dhr. R.A. Espinoza, Dhr. P. Manzano, Dr. M. Mwangi, Dr. B.N. Mwasi, Dr. O. Odipo, Dr. A.W. Roba, Dr. M.M.E.M. Rutten


01/07/2011 tot 17/09/2013