Sustainable Ecological Land Management (SELM)

Published: 15 October 2020
Last edited: 06 February 2023
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 This solution focuses on improving small-scale farmers value chain for sustainable watershed management, which leads to improved ecosystems that support livelihood and economic development. It is being implememted in partnership with community-based organisations, WRUAs, schools, and county governments.

It targets 1500 households in two sub-counties that are located within the microcatchment areas of Sasumua and Ndakaini Dam, which are the major water reservoirs for Nairobi City.

Project activities include institutional training and on-site training on sustainable ecologic land management (SELM) practices, and rain water harvesting, which is incorporporating water harvesting technologies such as water pans, for efficent water utlization in crop production. It entails also the protection and restoration of riperian ecosystems/zones. To support awareness raising among furture generations, school children receive practical conservation training through the establishment of mini aboretums.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Access and benefit sharing
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Sustainable livelihoods
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 16: Access to and sharing benefits from genetic resources
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Muranga County, Central Kenya | Nayandarua County, Central Kenya



  • land degradation
  • riperian ecosystem management
  • deforestation
  • water scarcity
  • forest management
  • catchment protection
  • soil fertility


  • food security
  • education
  • community cohesion
  • talent nurturing
  • sports


  • Poverty eradication
  • generating higher income


  • 92 primary schools in Muranga and Kinangop sub counties
  • 2500 small-holder farmers (men, women, and youth)
  • Agricultural extension officers and forest officers
  • Commnity Based Organizations (CBOs)
  • Community Forst Associations (CFAs)
  • Nairobi city

How do the building blocks interact?

Benefit sharing in management of natural resources can have multiple impacts on conservation and community wellbeing. Increased farm productivity and household wellbeing gives communities dignity and confidence to participate in public activities that include e.g. joining associations to collectively manage resources as a common good.


Mutual trust, knowledge and understanding are the basis for building awareness on the importance of the sustainable use of forest resources. Government is taking lead in not only giving communities forest users rights, but also offering participatory management opportunities. This builds strong relationships that can be leveraged to increase reporting, surveilance, protection and utilization of forest resources.


1. Increased farm productivity

2. Increased farm vegetation/forest cover

3. Reduced siltation into rivers

4. Higher household income

5. Increased food security and nutrition

6. Forest surveilance improved through CFAs engagement

7. Riperian ecosystems restoration enhanced

8. Increased access to knowledge

9. SELM practices has led to heightened land restoration



John lives in Gatanga in Muranga County. The area is home to Ndakaini Dam that supplies Nairobi residents with water. Catchment destruction and perennial droughts had drastically reduced water levels of the dam, and also affected farming practices across the county.


John attended a training organized by SACDEP on sustainable ecologiy land management (SELM) practices, which included surface run off harvesting. This training was conducted prior to the rains. Through this training, John learnt how to construct a water pan and with the help of SACDEP his project was made a reality. This pan allowed John to harvest water when the rains set. With climate change biting hard into farming lands, dry spells deny farmers the opportunity for year-round cultivation. However, John, equipped with the new facility (pan), was bale to continue with his farming activities. Irrigating his land with drip technique enabled a sustainable water use, conservation, and reduced soil erosion.


John' s farm productivity increased because of all-year cultivation, water effiecieny and sustainable farming practices. His household income increased drastically improving his living standards.


With keen eyes of the villagers watching the transformation, John became a self-appointed good will SELM ambassador. 33 farmers within his village, having witnessed the economic progress, joined the programme through John's influence.


These farmers formed a group that underwent training by he SACDEP project officers. With the simple hands-on training they received, these farmers replicated John's technology in their farms. With more farmers signing up, the microcatchment area began to see reduced erosion and land degradation. Riperian enchroachment decreased not to mention increased milk and food supply leading to more nutrition, food variety and increased household income.

Contributed by

daniel.ndegwa_35992's picture

Daniel Ndegwa SACDEP kenya