The major shifts in conservation practices in Kenya over the past 30 years have all been driven by changes on the ground, not top-down policy. The bottom-up spread of ideas has driven changes in government agencies and de facto changes in policy, not the other way round. ACC has been a key national NGO behind this bottom-up de facto policy shift and the realignment of government agencies in support of biodiversity conservation. ACC uses the bottom-up approach as its main avenue of policy change. In particular, ACC tries to accelerate and make the bottom up process more effective by creating the forums and process that make it more effective and contribute to broader national frameworks and institutions that bring about complementary and reinforcing centralized efforts. The open rangelands task force and other such initiatives are one way of going about it and influencing a change in policy and practice by bringing together a range of stakeholders to deliberate and act. This is done to help enact, institutionalize and operationalize pro-poor conservation and natural resource policies and legislation.
Advocating and catalyzing policy reforms that accommodate community initiatives; empowering communities about policy implications on livelihoods and resources; translating national policies into local level conservation priorities and strategies eg. Minimum Viable Conservation Areas; and engaging in water resources policies dialogue with government line ministries, local authorities, civil society, communities and the donors
Central Government, Local Authorities (county councils) and Landowners and Communities. ACC programs are directed primarily at community-level governance, aimed at fostering a bottom-up process discouraged and marginalized by decades of command-and-control conservation and resource management by central government. To achieve this goal, ACC has been: negotiating best community-level governance that improves and broadens participation (including women and youth) to bring about better natural resource management practices and skills in the four conservation landscapes; drawing in strategic partners able to lay the governance structures necessary for more productive and sustainable use of natural resources;using bottom-up approach that constantly engages with government agencies and local authorities to foster more constructive and reinforcing linkages between government, local authorities and landowners and communities; and catalysing development of sound policies, procedures and practices for the liberalization and decentralization of wildlife and natural resource management. ACC’s lessons learned from the work in the four landscape conservation areas helps districts and county councils strengthen their technical and planning capacity to co-ordinate community-level governance. At the national level ACC uses these examples to illustrate the need for developing a national policy framework for Minimum Viable Conservation Areas (MVCA).
Through experience and lessons learnt from projects and involvement in community conservation initiatives, ACC established that governance is one of the biggest challenges at the community led conservation and development activities. It’s as reaction to this that ACC has taken into building capacity for communities through leadership training, horizontal learning and exposure to the already well established and well governed projects elsewhere. At the group ranch level in the landscapes, ACC is giving a lead in the development of group ranch constitutions and other governing mechanisms to assist the group representatives in governing people and resources