Rotary District 5010 District-wide Project
Southwest Kenai Integrated Peace, Climate Adaptation
and Food, Water and Environmental Security Project General Description
District 5010 is actively developing a large multi-club District-wide Global Grant international project that partners with the active Rotary Club of Ololulunga, Southwest Kenya.
Southwest Kenya is currently undergoing severe food shortages due to drought, as well as a Covid-related collapse of their cash income from wildlife tourism-related employment in the neighboring Serengeti-Mara area.  This project builds a local capability to increase regional food, water, and physical security, along with longer-term economic resilience and conflict avoidance.
It’s a many-dimensioned problem that requires a broad solution, yet too often Rotary and other projects address only an isolated piece of the broader situation.
A recent data-rich study by the non-partisan Pro Publica think tank details how unmitigated climate change will likely result in increased famine, armed conflict over scarce resources, and unsustainable forced migration to North America and Europe.  You can find a detailed New York Times article at:
This project “ports over” to Rotary an integrated regional “environmental security” process that has been repeatedly proven in Africa and elsewhere over the past three decades, although not yet implemented by Rotary, to our knowledge.  This process lends itself well to Rotary’s new scalable projects initiative.
Our project committee includes Alaska Rotarians who have previously implemented such projects in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa on a governmental level, a District 5010 Rotarian who heads a multi-university rural economic development consortium, and an internationally published ecologist with expertise in devising the long-term climate change adaptation strategies needed to ameliorate the region’s scientifically probable climate change over the next 30-40 years.  Those climate changes increase the likelihood of regional conflict over scarce resources and of forced migration. 
An initial environmental change assessment for the proposed project area has been completed, revealing that probable climate change expected in Southwest Kenya over the next 30-40 years will result in both more frequent and severe drought, coupled with extreme rainfall and flooding events affecting the populated areas and the ability of people to feed and support their families.
The grant area is also impacted by the fact that the national parks to the west, famous for their masses of spectacular wildlife, are expected to experience even more severe and frequent drought. The resulting stressors on the wildlife, tourism and the game management industries, impact not only some of the most spectacular wildlife on the planet but also the grant area’s major employment and cash economy engine because wildlife tourism is currently the primary source of cash income upon which the people rely during drought periods when food must be purchased from elsewhere. 
The recent Pro Publica think tank, indicating that the immigration pressure occurring in Europe and the US is driven in large part by climate changes in warmer areas that are reducing the ability of people to stay in their homelands because they cannot provide for their families or for a safe environment, with food and water stresses arising from climate change as a primary underlying cause.
Thus, not only do climate change and adaptation problems badly affect families living in these areas but also underlie the seemingly intractable forced immigration issues confronting both North America and Europe.  Few people want to move away from their extended families and friends, but many are forced to do so in order to feed and protect their families.  In recognition of this, the RI Board decided in October 2020 to establish a forced migration Rotary Action Group to begin addressing this deeper issue.  The proposed grant project would be a demonstration of one approach that combines RI’s existing water, health, and community development areas of focus with reducing the root cause of many regional conflictual situations and forced migration.
We are developing a multi-phase integrated program that addresses the environmental security of a designated area.  Its goals, approaches, and processes are based on successful U.S. government programs where teams of experts assist local populations in devising locally suitable adaptations to water and other issues arising from their changing climate by addressing resource scarcity, threats to peace, and other factors that force people to migrate.
To the best of our knowledge and an experienced Foundation water project coordinator consulting with us about this project, this more integrated environmental security approach has not been done previously by Rotary.  Our intent is to not only help the Narok County area of Southwest Kenya devise sustainable water, food, and community safety approach but to also act as a demonstration project showcasing this proven multi-faceted approach to the Rotary world.  
This would be a program that could scale up in the environmental area of focus that will be a major area of focus for Foundation in the coming years.  We already have a roster of experienced experts ready to help, both in the US and on the ground in Kenya.
Bernie Griffard, Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club Past President, is the project coordinator.  As both an active-duty Army officer and then as a Professor at the Army War College, he participated in multiple multi-faceted environmental security programs in Africa, Latin America, the Balkans and Central Asia.  Rich McClear of the Sitka Rotary Club has worked with the US Agency for International Development in Kenya.  A variety of other experts in needed disciplines are likewise working together with us here.
Working with the proposed host Rotary Club, the Ololulunga Rotary Club in Narok County, Kenya, our District’s preliminary plan has several integrated aspects, most of which involve providing expert assistance:
  1. Construction of a potable water source from natural springs to town schools via a water pipeline and water storage tank.  This first project phase
  2. Construction of large farm ponds to store rainy season water for later livestock and farming use, as well as reducing flooding events.  There may be less expensive alternatives, such as solar-powered boreholes, which must be evaluated as part of the community assessment and justification for any Global Grant.
  3. Stored water would be used for the cattle, sheep, and other livestock that are critical to the Masai people, culture, and survival, as well as farming as desired.
  4. Improve the genetics of current livestock to provide greater productivity of animal products for consumption and sale, from the same resource input.  This is a priority item.
  5. Improve dry land and lightly irrigated farming to increase efficiency.  One promising option is quinoa, which is 50% higher in protein than the best wheat, highly drought-resistant, and a potentially high-value cash crop. 
  6. Improve the current cash economy by identifying other practical climate adaptation strategies as well as identifying products and assets that can be used to diversity the current employment and cash economy situation. 
  7. Assist in providing a scientifically valid climate change adaptation plan that includes identifying necessary wildlife protections during ongoing land privatization, possibly including provision of suitable dry season water resources for wildlife. 
  8. Identify regional potential conflicts and other threats to personal physical safety arising from resource scarcity and help devise regional arrangements to address and reduce the root causes of those conflictual threats.
  9. Help Ololulunga devise a general community resilience program similar to FEMA-supported resilience programs in the US.  
  10. Act as a demonstration project for Rotary that can be scaled up.