Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems Activity

Livestock Markets Building Resilience in Arid Lands

Background Narrative

The Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems Activity is a USAID-funded program will improve people’s resilience in the face of stresses and reduce poverty, household hunger, and chronic undernutrition through collective action; expanded and viable economic opportunities; strengthened formal and informal institutions, systems, and governance; and improved human capital. To achieve these results, approaches must be risk-informed, shock-responsive, and adapted to the distinct characteristics and dynamic context of different groups in northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands.

The activity establishes an effective management platform that maximizes the capacity of local actors, the collective impact of these actors, complementary programs, and associate awards. On this platform, the initial associate awards create mutually reinforcing push-pull opportunities. Together, the three awards build resilience and create sustained pathways out of poverty.

Expanding Economic Opportunities

ACDI/VOCA, in coordination with partners Mercy Corps, Smart Regional Consultants, and the BOMA Project, facilitates the pull of a more competitive livestock value chain for pastoralists positioned to move up in the sector and more viable, diversified livelihood opportunities for those moving out. It also facilitates an improved enabling environment for inclusive economic growth. The project aims to build vibrant market systems in livestock and other industries, enabling households to generate more income within the sector and diversify their income sources. In doing so, households—with a focus on youth and women—build resilience and create sustained pathways out of poverty.

Strengthening Community Capacities

This project, implemented by Mercy Corps, reduces global hunger, malnutrition, and poverty through inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led growth as well as the improved resilience and nutritional status of the population. The project uses push strategies to equip more marginalized individuals and communities with skills, resources, and awareness to benefit from the Expanding Economic Opportunities activities.

  • Expand and diversify viable economic opportunities through hard and soft investments.
  • Strengthen institutions, systems, and governance to support the development and competitiveness of livestock and other market systems and successfully manage their natural resources, especially rangeland and water access and availability–two key aspects of pastoral livelihoods.
  • Collaborate action and learning for market systems change under direction from the leader award.
  • Improve human capital to help individuals become more resilient and prepared for economic engagement.
  • Provide effective management to maximize local capacity and sustained collective impact.
  • Manage all associate awards and an $8 million grant facility to ensure technical excellence, coordination, and integration in pursuit of the activity’s objectives, while maintaining compliance with USAID rules and regulations.
  • Facilitate the Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth on behalf of USAID, including effective sequencing, layering, and integration among member activities, and coordinate learning for collective impact.
  • Build the capacity of the National Drought Management Agency and county governments to maintain resilience gains and manage integrated programming of resilience activities.

Expanding Economic Opportunities

  • Expand and diversify viable economic opportunities using competitively awarded grants to create livelihood opportunities, catalyze enterprise development, and incentivize investment.
  • Provide technical assistance to help entrepreneurs understand and access markets and capital and to operate profitably.
  • Facilitate access to internships, market-oriented vocational and technical education, and soft skills training to prepare young men and women for employment.
  • Strengthen institutions to support improved access to finance and strengthen the policy environment to encourage investment and inclusive growth that will allow businesses to flourish.

Strengthening Community Capacities

  • Strengthen the capacity of Ward Adaptation and Planning Committees and county administrations to better manage rangeland and water resources.
  • Work with communities to develop drought cycle management plans that capture their potential responses to emergencies and the resources required to mitigate them.
  • Strengthen the business development skills of Girls Improving Resilience with Livestock (GIRL) and Rural Entrepreneur Access Program (REAP) groups to better position them to undertake nutrition-promoting enterprises.

Expanding Economic Opportunities

  • Leverage $2 million in new private sector capital investment in the livestock sector.
  • Create expanded economic opportunities in the form of 5,000 new jobs, increased demand, and access to expanded markets.
  • Form livestock marketing associations to establish basic operations and sustainably manage the markets, including negotiating profit-sharing models with local governments and communities.
  • Mercy Corps and the BOMA Project will form 1,820 REAP groups, including 5,460 women, across five counties.
  • Support partial scholarships–of no more than 50 percent–for fees and related costs for approximately 300 youth to participate in vocational and technical training and apprenticeships.

Strengthening Community Capacities

  • Improve management and governance of restored rangeland and water resources.
  • Improve effectiveness of drought response by the county governments.
  • Increase access to animal source foods.
  • Graduate 11,250 girls through Mercy Corps’ GIRL community-based mentorship program, which provides adolescent girls with literacy and numeracy training, advocacy for school enrollment, financial services, and negotiation and life skills.

The grant facility of the Kenya Livestock Market Systems Activity funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is aimed at addressing market systems constraints, and incentivizing innovation for market systems change in Northern Kenya.

There are four grant categories under the facility:

  1. Small grants: a) for start-up or expansion of micro-enterprises or businesses—targeting small traders and those that supply to larger entrepreneurs; b) to support various activities for improving resilience—targeting GIRL and REAP groups; and c) to enhance youth employability and workforce development—targeting youth 18-35 years
  2. Medium grants: a) to support new technologies and models, e.g. for water and rangeland management, conflict resolution, nutrition advancement, etc.—targeting community-level institutions; and b) matching grants to support community priorities—targeting Ward Planning Committees and/or community-level institutions
  3. Growth grants: a) to buy down risk and cost of entry for businesses; and linking enterprises to larger businesses—targeting businesses that have graduated from the small grants category; and b) to support established businesses, e.g. in fodder production, value addition, processing, input supply, etc.—targeting established businesses
  4. Innovation grants: a) to support new and innovative solutions to old problems—targeting enterprises, women and girls, youth, community-level and other institutions


ACDI/VOCA is implementing the Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems Activity, the Leader Award of the Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems Leader with Associates (LWA). The Leader Award serves as the management platform for the LWA providing cost effective and centralized support to associate awards.

Leader Award Activities

•          Provide centralized grants, finance, procurement, operations, human resources, communications, and monitoring and evaluation support for associate awards resulting in operations and cost efficiencies.

•         Provide technical oversight and monitoring across two associate awards, Expanding Economic Opportunities and Strengthening Communities Capacities, and to identify opportunities for sequencing, layering, and integration of activities to amplify impact.

•         Coordinate planning, technical monitoring, and reporting with Associate Awards to promote opportunities for knowledge sharing and technical support.

•         Administer an $8 million grant fund to support Associate Award objectives. The Leader award has supported the associate awards to identify:

  • 82 large and small grants approved
  • Solicited, reviewed, submitted, and received approval on approximately $2 million in grants, with $2.6 million in grants under consideration for approval and in negotiation.  
  • Almost $1 million in strengthening community resilience grants to be awarded in 2020-2022.
  • A total of $200,000 in innovation grants to be issued under both Associate Awards that will allow flexibility for grantees to offer “new solutions to old problems” within the livestock market system in northern Kenya.

 View the project’s brochure here.

View the project’s FY2021 Progress Report here.

Funder: USAID

Chief of Party: Joe Sanders, jsanders@acdivoca.org

Project Director: Mike Thayer, mthayer@acdivoca.org

Project Specialist: Elbridge Boardman, eboardman@acdivoca.org

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