Across Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands, vast rangelands are being transformed into community conservancies – common property arrangements managed for transhumance pastoralism and biodiversity conservation. The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) has spearheaded this transformation, promoting community conservancies as a model that conserves biodiversity while developing resilience, improving livelihoods, and promoting security among diverse pastoralist groups in Kenya. Building on recent critical engagement with the NRT model, this article reframes community conservancies as green grabs. In doing so, it makes two overarching contributions to wider debates. The first contribution complicates stereotypes about ‘grabbers’ and ‘grabbees’ and unsettles crude distinctions between political reactions to green grabs, social phenomena commonly portrayed as enacted from above and reacted to from below. Using the concept of bricolage, we show how actors at multiple scales with multiple identities participate – consciously and unconsciously – in reshaping institutional arrangements for managing communal lands and natural resources to align with conservation. The second contribution reveals how power works through emergent hybrid institutions, producing undesired and unintended outcomes. With this in mind, the article concludes that green grab by bricolage produces contradictory spaces animated by a seemingly adaptive, innovative, and progressive agenda, but constrained by historical patterns of access, accumulation, and domination.
- Green grab
- Community-Based Natural Resource Management
- Critical institutionalism
- Institutional bricolage