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Reconciling people's livelihoods and environmental conservation in the rural landscapes in Kenya: Opportunities and challenges in the Amboseli landscapes


Moses Makonjio Okello is with the SFS Centre for Wildlife Management Studies, Nairobi, Kenya. e-mail:;


Two of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2000 are: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The link between depressed livelihoods and unsustainable use of land and natural resources can be seen in Kenyan rangelands. Here, the local community is dependent on land and its resources for livelihoods, but the demand and competition is increasing, endangering both the resources they depend on and threatening environmental health. Amboseli is an Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) area that experiences ecological constraints, resource limitations, and low economic investment. Local communities in such landscapes are resource-dependent for their daily livelihoods, and have few socio-economic opportunities. Pastoralism, which is the main source of their wealth, continues to decline and exploitation by a few local elites and poor local leadership further depresses livelihoods. Other challenges to these poor rural landscapes are increasing human population which increases demands on natural resources and environment; persistent hunger; low universal primary education; poor gender equality and empowerment of women; environmental degradation; and lack of local and global partnership for development. This paper focuses on the two Millennium Development Goals mentioned above. Linkages, challenges and opportunities in enhancing rural livelihoods while promoting environmental sustainability in rural landscapes of the Amboseli Rural Landscape are discussed.