RESPONSE BY THE CEC SULEIMAN SHUNU, TO THE QUESTIONS BY
THE COUNTY OVER THE ALLEGED LEASE OF ISIOLO PARK.
THE ISIOLO COUNTY GOVERNMENT
DEPARTMENT OF COUNTY TOURISM, CULTURE AND SOCIAL
P.O. BOX 36-60300
ISIOLO COUNTY ASSEMBLY
PO BOX 60300- 36
RE: Comprehensive Statements on Allegation of contractual
agreement between the county government of Isiolo and African Parks Networks on Shaba and Buffalo Springs national reserves by County Executive.
Thank you for your letter dated 25th February, 2016 ref: ISL/CA/FBA/1/2/16 requesting a comprehensive statement, regarding the alleged contractual agreement in the above subject matter.
We wish to make the following statement in response to your
queries comprehensively as follows:-
a) The current rumours in the public domain
i) In the past few weeks unknown individuals, amorphous groups
and some local non-governmental organizations have been peddling disturbing rumours to the extent that the county government have either sold, leased or entered into some kind of contractual arrangement with an organization from South Africa on Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves.
ii) So intense was the news that it even found its way into the pages of the local dailies. The motive of the story remains unclear but without doubt it has stirred a lot of debate and caused anxiety and fear among fellow county men and beyond. we, the CEC– Tourism and HE, the governor-Godana doyo visited a local radio station-
Angaf FM radio to dispel the rumours and provide correct position as part of informing the public.
iii) As the executive committee member in charge of tourism under which the said reserves fall, we wish to state here formally and categorically that isiolo county government has not and had not entered into any kind of agreement with any entity, local or foreign
in any undertaking on Shaba and Buffalo Springs national reserves, whether in form of lease, sales or memorandum of understanding (MOU).
iv) The allegations are unfounded, baseless and aimed at misleading the public from the realities on the ground concerning the two reserves.
v) Currently, the government of Isiolo has an Agency Agreement
with KATO for revenue collection entered into with defunct Isiolo County Council, in 1995
vi) The trends in revenue collection in past has been going down (annex Table 1, and 2)
vii) The County government has made huge investment in the past 3 years to the parks (See Table 3) to the tune of ksh 540,187,685 excluding the payment of huge wage bills to the rangers. And during the same period the revenue from the parks ksh 220,845,780
viii) The highest ever recorded revenue collected is ksh
142,618,155 in 2012 and lowest 47,768,504 in 2008 (Table 1)
b) What is the true position regarding the two Reserves as at now?
It would be helpful to the County Assembly and the public at large, if we provide the following information at this stage:-
a) Isiolo county government has started an introductory
engagement with African Parks Network, a not-for-profit
organization based in South Africa on possible private-public
partnership arrangement with the goal and objectives of
establishing partnership between the Isiolo County Government and African Parks network on matters of management, financing and
development of Buffalo springs and Shaba National Reserves
b) African Park Network (APN) is a world class, reputable
organization with impeccable park Management resume.
c) However, at the moment, this is only business idea that the
county government has floated as strategic thinking/direction for addressing challenges of the said parks and making consultations with stakeholders and partners
d) The process of consultations are ongoing and we promise to be as inclusive as possible
e) Should current consultations with stakeholders find the idea of public- private- partnership (PPP) feasible and viable, a new
business model of management of these two Parks may come into being and I hasten to add all these would follow due process of the constitution and the provisions of relevant laws of Kenya.
f) Having stated the true position accurately to enable the house to make informed discussion on the subject, I want to further state categorically that even in future undertaking we promise that all due
process of the law and due diligence would be observed in the matter.
But why does Isiolo County government, even think of strategic partnering with private sector as indicated above?
2. Mandates of the County executive
a) Isiolo county government has mandate to plan, initiate, co-
ordinate and implement projects and program in the entire county
with the goal of achieving social economic developments.
b) Isiolo County is rich in natural resource endowments with main
economic activities being pastoralism and tourism but located in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL), which is ecologically fragile and
sensitive ecosystem with erratic low rainfall.
c) In past and present tourism revenues for the park support socio-economic activities of the county and attendant management of the parks is considered critical and strategic pillar of the County economy.
d) Currently, the Isiolo County government has a mandate to
manage the National game Reserves and parks in the County. These are the Buffalo Springs, Shaba and Bisan Adi reserves. The parks are traditionally home to key wildlife species including the big five of Africa. The County has potential for more game reserves and there is a need to restore, rehabilitate and protect its rich diverse heritage of flora and fauna which is disappearing at tremendous rate.
3. The goal and the objectives of public private partnership
The goal and objectives of our current discussions with the African Parks network is to find a common ground on which build a long term sustainable relationship between the County Government and African Parks network is management, financing and development of Buffalo springs and Shaba National Reserves. It is anticipated that once concluded the arrangement eventually would spur socio- economic benefits to the local communities. This is win-win situation for all parties involved- Commercial investor, the government, communities, strategic management partner and donors.
4. problems and challenges faced in executing the mandates
The two Reserves are priceless resource inherited from the defunct county council by isiolo county government, and must be made sustainable for current and for the future generations. The problems and challenges of the Parks, however, are compounded by general problems of the county, and more specific to tourism and wildlife conservation and management such as:-
a) The county has major development challenges and constraints borne out of many years of neglect and marginalization, poverty, conflicts and lack of social infrastructure evident all around.
b) Wildlife protection and conservation in parks have potential for social and economic development, particularly for the benefit of local communities and contribute to wildlife survival in the face of competing forms of other land use.
c) The county has had challenges and constraints in management, development and financing of the parks over the years.
d) In terms of management of the parks, the county had direct role of the day-to- day involvement of the parks with vertical command and control structure with top down approach to management and decision making. This has led to the suboptimal performance in financing park operations, development of infrastructure in parks and poor management and governance.
e) Revues from tourists are dwindling as a result of the insecurity with the parks, human/wildlife within the park and surrounding areas of the parks is at all times high, human-wildlife conflicts is on the raise.
f) The parks have no products or branding-
g) Industry players have complained and compelled to close down business eg. Joy’s Camp
5. Rationale and justifications for strategic management partnership
The County government of Isiolo has developed strategies and plans to address the aforementioned challenges. The concept of wildlife conservation, protection of animals within/around the parks is posing challenges to management of the parks. Both Shaba and Buffalo national game reserves require rehabilitation and re-engineering of management and financing with long term
sustainability in mind.
In Past, the revenue generated from the reserves almost entirely financed the operation of the council then, though hardly sufficient, with the council workers (including park rangers) going without pay for more than half a year. In fact the county government bore the brunt of the burden by settling six month salary arrears of the former council employees upon
inception in 2013. Currently, the two park/reserves were a pale
shadow of its former self and needed critical fresh breathe of life.
It was an exercise in futility to continue doing business the old council way. A different management model was not the only way to go but the only way. Hence, a paradigm shift in policy and operation needed to go forward of on the management,
development and financing of the parks.
Our past experiences are:-
a) The direct management of parks by the government has not been very effective in conservation and protection of wildlife in the parks.
b) The county government of Isiolo has been trying to address this challenge by finding strategic management partners to work with to mitigate the challenges of wildlife parks management and the constraints of wildlife protection and ecosystem conservation.
c) The county government having challenges, a strategic
management partner would take total responsibility for the
rehabilitation and long-term management of two game reserves under it, in partnership with Isiolo County Government and local communities.
d) The county government over the years had been struggling with the issues of the development of the parks in the county and indeed witnessed a near collapse of parks with rampant insecurity.
e) However, the constraints have been the required huge capital
outlay to invest to improve, upgrade all infrastructures (physical, human resource, financial and systems) in the parks. Both national and county governments have not found enough capital reserve or
partner injection the needed resources ameliorate the current dire situations in our parks.
f) Financing of the development and management of parks call for change in paradigm from direct government management to public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement since the government lacks both the financial resources and business acumen to run the parks
sustainably, while a private sector investor with expertise would combine world-class conservation practice with business expertise and would place emphasis on achieving financial sustainability of
the parks by combining long-term donor funding with tourism revenues, related business enterprise and payment for ecosystem
services, which all serve as a foundation for economic development and poverty alleviation.
6. In conclusions
i. The parks require total rehabilitation of ecosystems and embrace modern conservation technology, techniques and methods as well as new business model to make money.
ii. Building partnership between resource-base of the parks and
commercialization of the products is critical for long term
sustainability and survival of both Buffalo Springs and Shaba
iii. It is important to recognize that a new business model is
required if we have to bequeath the parks to our children. The
current affairs of things in our parks cannot be sustained.
By Suleiman Guyo Shunu-CEC in Charge Tourism, Culture and
Social Service- Isiolo County Government
Table 1. Revenue from both Buffalo Spring and Shaba National
Year revenue in shillings
Table 2. Number of visitors and amount of revenue realized from
Shaba National Reserve
Year number of visitors revenue in s
2009 4874 30,561,800
2010 5590 38,042,800
2011 6398 44,826,400
2012 4550 35,416,200
2013 4253 22,996,600
2014 4460 26,634,800
2015 3915 17,646,600
Table 3. The County Government allocations to the Parks
Financial year Recurrent Development Total
2013/2014 108,062,250 104,373,585 212,435,835
2014/2015 71,066,069 94,376,289 165,432,358
2015/2016 50,977,000 81,344,492 162,321,492
Ibrahim M. Adano…………………
For CEC Tourism, Culture and Social Services