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The Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), in Kenya cover close to 80% of the land and are home to approximately 36% of the country’s population, 70% of the national livestock and 90% of the wildlife. The residents of the ASALs earn their living through a mix of pastoralism and agriculture. However, pastoralism is the main source of livelihood contributing to 13% to the GDP of Kenya and further plays a vital role in both the economic and socio-cultural development of the resident communities.


The economic and social impacts of climate change coupled with other regional and global dynamics have compromised the quality of livelihoods and coping ability among the ASAL populations further amplifying their ability to cope. Recent disasters, such as the Ukraine war, earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and severe droughts and cyclones in various regions of the world, have exposed community vulnerabilities and consequently increased the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance. Kenya, and in particular the ASAL areas are equally prone to natural disasters like droughts, floods, animal and human diseases and pandemics. Every year, damage and losses caused by natural disasters represent approximately 3-5% of the Kenya GDP. Humanitarian needs keep increasing and these shocks simultaneously undermine the gains of development and slow down the progress towards sustainable development.

The humanitarian aid system, that currently exists in Kenya and other similar nations, is dominated by international organisations and agencies. The recent 2021/2022 drought and subsequent floods in parts of ASAL Kenya increased the number of people in urgent need of assistance. Humanitarian agencies are therefore stretched in terms of human, technical and financial capacity. Interestingly, in most of these emergencies, local actors have been first to respond, are acquainted with the situation, social - cultural context and nuances and are able to act and collaborate with communities before, during, and after disasters.

The humanitarian sector has long acknowledged the important role played by local actors in emergency response but this has largely remained more of theory without much practical application. The concept of localisation and prioritising the role of the local actor has been embeded in several policy commitments which include: Good Humanitarian donorship principle 8, the Grand Bargain Commitment 2, Sendau Framework for Disaster risk Reduction 2015 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, Localization received more attention at the World Humanitarian Summit, 2016 and gave rise to specific commitments in the Grand Bargain and Charter for Change that followed.

The localisation agenda, has the potential to serve as a catalyst to scale up preparedness, response, recovery, resilience building and development efforts that put the local actors and communities at the centre of actions and decisions.

About the ASAL Humanitarian Network - AHN

The ASAL Humanitarian Network (AHN) is a movement led by local and national actors in Kenya currently spread over 10 ASAL Counties advocating for a humanitarian system that enables more locally led responses. Formed in 2019, the network has been pursuing to catalyze the Localisation agenda and push for an effective humanitarian aid system that works for the people in crisis.

The mission of the network is to strengthen the resilience of ASAL communities through locally-led approaches, with a goal of promoting the localization agenda by using innovative, evidence-based, and outcome-focused approaches to emergency response, capacity building, and advocacy.

AHN aims to influence systemic changes in the way emergency responses are conducted in Kenya by partnering with government, UN, and other INGOs. The network's role is to catalyze, facilitate, and trigger a demand-driven and effective risk-informed aid system for populations affected by crises.

AHN provides a platform where the local and national NGOs in Kenya advocate for more support and recognition of their vital role as local actors in emergency and humanitarian response. In addition, the network creates space for:

1) Local actors to jointly advocate for the localization of Humanitarian Action especially in the ASAL region

2) Information and capacity sharing among the members through co-learning workshops and regular interactions

3) Engagement of the ASAL stakeholders and holding duty bearers accountable and

4) Coordination of the local and national actors in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected communities.

Through advocacy and a locally-led programming, the AHN promotes the leadership of local actors in Kenya, in line with global commitments to Localisation entrenched in the Grand Bargain and Charter for Change.

The members of the network believe in capacity sharing among each other therefore networked together, the AHN has a wide array of expertise, ranging from cash programming, women’s rights, MEAL, media and advocacy, food security, livelihoods and nutrition, climate change adaptation, WASH, gender sensitive budgeting analysis and community mobilization.

Mission - A strong, vibrant and accountable network that strengthens the resilience of ASAL communities through locally- led approaches

Vision - ASAL communities that are resilient and empowered

AHN Model
As a network of local and national organisations, with combined experience and knowledge of working in the ASALs, the AHN envisions becoming a platform to implement ways of shifting the power to local and national actors in humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actions grounded on its model based on the following principles/components:

a)The use of Evidence-based outcomes of locally led emergency preparedness and response to influence government, UN and other INGOs for systemic shift in way emergency response happens in Kenya

b)A locally-led no-regrets kitty/pooled fund with clear trigger criteria to enable a competively bided for response in ASAL region

c)The amplification of local voices in coordination forums where local organisations are well represented at decision making spaces at local and national levels

d)Joint Influencing and Advocacy that is locally-led. Within the network are grassroots models that have enable more equitable and locally led humanitarian response, holding duty bearers, including ourselves as the network, to account and amplify the voices of marginalized communities.

e)Harmonized approaches for implementing humanitarian and development initiatives. The development and constant improvement of a common framework for emergency response that uses reliable and up to date data from government agencies, Civil Society Organisations and other agencies.

f)Collaborative and focused capacity sharing and strengthening among the different ASAL stakeholders in a process that acknowledges the existing knowledge and experience of the local actors and communities.

Strategic Pillars of the Network

The ASAL Humanitarian Network (AHN) is a voluntarily collective of local and national organisations present and active in the ASAL counties, unified around common issues and commitments.

The network is built on the foundation of four strategic pillars that guide the network’s activities:
a)Response and Preparedness 

b)Recovery and Resilience 

c)Advocacy, Localization, Media and Campaigns 

d)Institutional Capacity Building 

Counties of Operations