How do you bring people from different academic and geographic worlds together to discuss merging their scientific interests? How can global and community-rooted processes work together? How do you talk about global environmental and health challenges and ground them in local conditions?

In March 2024, a SenseTribe team had the privilege to host the first Ecosystems, Finance & Health Inception Workshop facilitating the gathering of 40 leading scientists, development practitioners and finance specialists from across continents, along with staff from the locally-managed Sarara Nature conservancy in Northern Kenya, to explore the feasibility of building an investment case for the co-management of public health and ecosystems in Africa.
The meeting was held on Namunyak Conservancy in Samburu, Kenya (1°00’34.3″N 37°23’05.3″E), from 19 to 22 March, 2024 in Namunyak, which is a conservancy managed by local communities and the Sarara Foundation; a model for community conservation and landscape management. By holding the workshop here, the aim was to immerse participants in a landscape where co-management of health and the environment in African rangelands is already being put into practice. There was also the wish to foster genuine interactions and learning between workshop participants and members of the local Samburu community working with the conservancy.

The natural environment in which the gathering was held, the interconnected discussions with Samburu representatives, the Bush dinner and storytelling, and the growing understanding by the visitors of the range of local challenges and solutions related to water access and quality, healthcare, pregnancy, livestock and soil management, amongst other aspects, helped permeate the reality of health and nature interconnectedness.

Proceedings were opened by Hon. Pauline Lenguris MP, a health professional, the Women’s Representative for Samburu and member of the Kenyan Government’s Parliamentary Committee on Health. She explained that her role is to represent the Samburu community and spoke eloquently about the impacts of prolonged drought and of emerging healthcare challenges, such as malnutrition and cancer, facing her constituents, and the work being done to address them.

Open Space and Action Planning Conclusions

Before the workshop closure, participants came together to create work streams for developing a community of practice dedicated to building an investment case for co-management of ecosystems, food systems, and public health systems in Africa. A vision statement, designed around the future that members of the Namunyak community who participated in the workshop would like to see in 2050, was termed the “Namunyak Declaration”. A roadmap of actions lay the foundations for the birth of a new spirit and commitment to see this effort help us imagine Deep time.

“People thriving in harmony with their cultural and vibrant ecosystems through embracing diverse knowledge systems”
Early draft of Namunyak Declaration:

Our lesson: rooting the global in the local is a powerful way to nurture collective action. The future lies in the present and the current flooding in East Africa makes these efforts ever more relevant. We wish every success to all the stakeholders of the Namunyak Declaration.
Thanks to the Sarara Conservancy, the Samburu representatives, Kenya government counterparts, and all the foundations which supported this effort.