People from around the Horn of Africa take part in collective learning to improve their landscapes. Cora van Oosten

Horn of Africa landscape learning journey: Landscapes beyond boundaries

From solar panels to resource management, increasing resiliency of regional landscapes
Thu April 2019

By Ilse Hennemann, Fatouma Abdillahi, Lampat Parashina, Joyce Engoke, John Ajjugo and Cora van Oosten

How can vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa make their surrounding landscapes more resilient to climate change through shared experiences and by operating as a network beyond boundaries?

This was exactly the aim of the “Landscape Learning Journey,” a co-production of the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network and Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. Together, the organizations selected a group of landscape facilitators from existing organizations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland, South Sudan and Sudan in the Horn of Africa to empower them to enhance landscape resilience through improved landscape governance. The facilitators traveled to each other’s landscapes and took up critical knowledge, skills and attitudes on topics related to climate smart landscapes and governance.

They collectively analyzed landscape dynamics, climate change vulnerabilities and the capacity of landscapes to cope. They shared experiences with facilitating multi-stakeholder collaboration, mitigating land use conflict, developing visions and designing appropriate governance arrangements that work.

Despite volatile contexts, some impressive results have been achieved: construction of water storage systems, youth employment in solar panel maintenance and women’s employment in the production of fuel-saving cook stoves. Moreover, capacity development occurred in climate-smart agriculture, integrated water resources management, improved cattle breading and landscape restoration. University curricula were developed, and national and regional policies were influenced to guide the region toward a more climate-resilient future.

Fatouma Abdillahi from Association Djibouti Nature says: “We used to do a lot of different activities without much of an overarching plan. But through the Landscape Learning Journey we have learned to have landscape governance as a guiding framework, which helps us to structure our activities and increase coherence of our program. During our learning journey I have learned to facilitate stakeholder processes within our landscape. Today, I see myself as a facilitator of my own landscape. I am capable of analyzing my landscape’s dynamics, the stakeholder interactions, the institutional requirements, and opportunities for creating more economic viability. Moreover, now I know the vulnerabilities to climate change, as well as the capabilities of our stakeholders to cope. My landscape has become a lot stronger, and so have I.”

Lampat Parashina from the South Rift Association of Land Owners in Kenya says: “The Landscape Learning Journey really opened my eyes to how the different processes in my landscape are interrelated. I used to work on isolated issues, searching for sectoral solutions. Now I have learned to take a more spatial and integrated perspective and see the entire landscape as one system of which our pastoral communities are part. We translated the landscape governance framework into our own language and culture, which helped us to improve our stories and identify key intervention areas. It also gave us an opportunity to develop a network throughout the Horn of Africa and get to know the major institutions and key players. We brought our experiences to the Global Landscapes Forum in Nairobi and Bonn, where we inspired a lot of young people like ourselves to take the future of our landscapes into our own hands.”

These are just some of the stories from the Landscape Learning Journey that united individuals and organizations from the public and private sector across the Horn. Do you want to hear their stories? Then click here, to see for yourself how people have built a regional network, linking people and places across the Horn of Africa, to build more resilient, more sustainable and more inclusive landscapes beyond boundaries.

For more information, contact ilse.hennemann@wur or




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