Kenya Arid Lands Value Chain Development Initiative (KAVADI) ©

Published: 30 September 2021
Last edited: 30 September 2021
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"ASAL – Arid and Semi-Arid Lands", covers around the 80 % of the national territory of Kenya. The inhabitants of these counties are mainly pastoral communities covering vast areas. Yet, Kenya’s Arid and Semi-arid lands are endowed with a rich diversity of plant resources exuding gum and resins.


The KAVADI approach builds capacity in arid lands by training communities in wild harvesting techniques of gum Arabic and other resins such as Frankincense and Myrrh, and through the farming of Aloe plots and the pilot plantations of trees with commercial interests. These drought resistant resources create alternative livelihoods opportunities, making communities more resilient and in a better position to mitigate vulnerability to drought. On top of livelihood building, the plantations of drought resistant trees and plants regenerate and restore landscapes, since these species do well in terrains considered "degraded" hence not used for either traditional agriculture or pasture.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Green roofs / Green walls
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Hot desert
Rangeland / Pasture
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Food security
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Genetic diversity
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Health and human wellbeing
Indigenous people
Land management
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Species management
Standards/ certification
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Watershed management
Other theme
Land Restoration
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Territorial and spatial development
Extreme heat
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 1: Reduce global disaster mortality by 2030
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Target 7: Increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through consumers


Marsabit, Samburu | Wamba Sub County; Laisamis Sub County
Marsabit, Kenya
Samburu, Kenya
Show on Protected Planet


  • De-forestation
  • Climate change (desertification, soil erosion)
  • Informality of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP) sectors
  • Scarcity of investment in the sector


The KAVADI concept has been designed to make sure the most vulnerable communities in the region, such as:


  • Pastoralists
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Persons with disabilities



How do the building blocks interact?

AGAR's is keen to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of the rural communities in arid and semi-arid lands, promoting inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development through the enhancement of high potential agroforestry resources, in synergy with the local private sector and national agenda.

For this concept to work effectively our biding blocks rely on each other for a succesful impact, they do this by:

  • Relying on good partnerships from all the sector players in their respective roles to increase the productive potential of gum, resins and aloe through the synergistic action of the public and private sector
  • Sustainable management of natural resources through the introduction of correct environmental practices , enhancing the adaptation strategies to climate change, reducing the impact of desertification and deforestation and promoting women's social inclusion in production processes . 
  • Trainings on business management, accountability and sales are performed targeting the communities economical resilience.
  • Formalization of sectorial capacity, increased organizational and financial management and set-up of policies and standards.




  • Income generation activities from alternative and environmentally
    sustainable agro-forestry value chains
  • Access to markets for emerging sectors through strengthening the links with public and private actors, in order to build strategic alliances for product promotion and commercialization;
  • 100 to 200 acres of degraded lands is restored through the use of drought resistant trees and plants (aloe, acacia and boswellia species)



Before founding Agar Limited, I (Tommaso Menini -  Director) worked for several years in arid lands as a business development specialist with several NGOs: during this time, I have seen endless initiatives aiming at strengthening micro-economies through income generation activities. What all these initiatives lacked, including the EU Funded project I personally led in Isiolo for 2.5 years, was private sector's engagement from the design stage. In most projects the private sector was only involved at the very end while looking for an exit strategy. We believe that truly sustainable development can only be achieved by identifying market opportunities and helping marginalized groups to develop skills and capacities in order to develop partnerships with dynamic businesses on equitable terms.

I designed KAVADI © with in mind the base of the pyramid in our trade, the communities in arid lands, which would benefit from a structure that no development initiative has yet managed to build. With this in mind, I re-joined the private sector in 2017 after nearly 10 years working in the aid sector re-activating a company dealing with natural resources in North East Kenya, advocating for adequate environmental practices and the socio-economic empowerment of pastoralist communities through income diversification and as of late, the use of drought resistant plants and trees as a mean to restore degraded lands.

I founded "African Agency for Arid Resources Ltd”, a company specialized in dry land tree species, social economic empowerment in arid lands, natural resources development and environmental conservation in 2018 and in 2019 I became a UN consultant for a project working in 4 ASAL counties in Kenya on land restoration and bio-enterpises developent, which I am currently contributing to.

Contributed by

Wanjiru Mburu African Agency for Arid Resources