Scaling Sustainable Land management Innovations: The African Highland Initiative Devolution Model.
Benefits accruing from using sustainable land management (SLM) innovations including technologies, approaches and methods specifically in eastern Africa highlands do not match the scale of their adoption among rural poor communities inhabiting critical ecosystems of global importance. The African Highlands Initiative (AHI), an ecological programme building on more than a decade legacy as an innovator towards development of innovative methods and approaches, unveils an AHI devolution model anchored in policy reforms involving transfer of functions to more localised institutions that empowers stakeholders towards scaling SLM innovations. This paper presents the model whose focus is on multi-stakeholder engagements embedded in a structured process comprising of drivers, facilitators, devolution governance, outcomes and feedback systems. The model capitalises on Innovation Platforms (IPs) to access a large consortium of actors, each playing important roles at multiscales, and further take advantage of the benefits of decentralisations to leverage support and buy-in necessary for operationalising an effective scaling strategy. Towards operationalising the model, SLM scaling strategy developed and rolled out in Ethiopia and Uganda is described, unpacking its five components: (i) understanding local contexts; (ii) facilitating learning alliances; (iii) monitoring performance; (iv) implementing tangible action including creating enabling environment; and (v) continuous capacity building. Achievements attributed to the model specific to Ethiopia and Uganda include; a systematic strategy for 10 devolution structures (IPs) at multiscales mainstreamed under decentralised local government authorities; enabling policy environment beyond capacity building; institutional strengthening and human resource development and increased allocation of resources to SLM by local government. Tangible results in Ethiopia include: 1.24 ha fenced for regeneration, seed bulking on 8 community nurseries; distribution of 62, 463 seedlings; 234 km of soil conservation structures; 2 bylaws with 608 households benefiting from Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) technologies. In Uganda results include distribution of 71,903 tree seedlings, nurturing 219 seedlings in 6 community nurseries, building capacity of 153 IP members in seed collection, two bylaws and ordinance; as well as 8,435 ha regenerated. Policy recommendations in support of the AHI devolution model include investment in creating enabling environment, including incentive packages; mainstreaming IPs in local government structures, ; and knowledge management; capacity building; advocacy and awareness building and a political will.
Key Words: Empowerment, Innovation Platforms, decentralisation