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Case study

Enabling Sustainable Land-Management Practices in Kenya’s Tana River Basin via Payments for Watershed Services

Countries and regions
Kenya, Sub-Saharan Africa
Action area


Case summary

Payments for watershed services is a method by which a market economy is created for services that relate to protecting ecosystems. For communities surrounding a river basin, this approach rewards upstream water users, such as farmers, for adopting sustainable land-use techniques (such as terracing, mulching, and agroforestry) that protect water supply and quality for downstream users. A pilot payments-for-watershed-services project was implemented in Kenya’s Tana River Basin, which spans more than 17,000 km2and hosts about 150,000 small-scale farmers. This project aligns with Kenya’s INDC in prioritizing the adaptation measures of sustainable land-management practices and supporting ecosystem resilience. Key actions and good practices related to this pilot project are highlighted below.

  • The use of sustainable land-management techniques such as terracing, mulching, and agroforestry increased crop quality and quantity, resulting in higher income for farmers.
  • Effectively implemented, sustainable land-management techniques reduced downstream siltation and thus reduced wear and maintenance costs for hydropower turbines. In addition, managing downstream water flow via proper upstream land-management techniques increased the efficiency of hydropower generation. Thus it is valuable to assess impacts of land-management practices holistically across other sectors to inform integrated planning (such as energy and water planning).
Planning and implementation activity
Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures
Institutions involved

Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Kenyan Agriculture Research Institute, International Soil Reference and Information Centre, International Fund for Agriculture Development, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

Sectors and themes
Agriculture, Ecosystem Adaptation, Education, Forestry and Land-Use, Renewable Energy, Rural, Water
Energy sub-sectors
Source details

Results supported byUNDPWorld Resources InstituteTransparency partnership