Arid Lands Development Focus (ALDEF)

ASAL Humanitarian



Over 80% of Kenya is classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). Extreme climatic conditions, including relatively low amounts of annual rainfall, or extreme rainfall at times and high temperatures throughout the year, have had devastating effects on the environment and livelihoods of communities. About 30% of Kenya’s population is living in ASAL lands. This population is earning a living through a mix of pastoralism and small-scale agriculture but is also characterized by high rates of poverty.

Among the challenges that Kenya’s ASAL counties are facing are inadequate social services; poor physical infrastructure; insecure land tenure systems; dispersed human settlements and internal displacements and refugees. In addition, the increasing impacts of climate change and land degradation from deforestation and overgrazing are threatening food security and livelihoods. 

Moreover, the vulnerability of the population in the ASAL counties has been tested by the desert locust infestation and the COVID-19 pandemic has further affected their livelihoods and amplified food insecurity.

The humanitarian system, dominated by large international organizations, is being stretched to its limit and it appears increasingly unfit to deal with these challenges, let alone address future ones. On the other hand, local actors are often the first to respond to a crisis, are familiar with the context, and have the legitimacy to act and work with communities before, during, and after disasters.

While the significant role of local actors has long been recognized throughout the humanitarian sector, this remained largely a matter of rhetoric and has not translated into reality. At the World Humanitarian Summit (2016), talk about localization intensified and resulted in concrete commitments in the concluding Grand Bargain.

In 2010, the Kenya government promulgated its devolution agenda and made a crucial step in the right direction to deal with poverty and injustice in Kenya.


About AHN

The ASAL Humanitarian Network is a platform led by local and national NGOs promoting a humanitarian system that enables more locally-led responses. The Network was established in March 2019, and its current 30 members are all operating within the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties in Northern Kenya. Networked together, they have a reach in 10 of the most vulnerable ASAL counties with a wide array of expertise, ranging from cash programming, women’s rights, MEAL, media, and advocacy or WASH, gender-sensitive budgeting analysis, and community mobilization. 

As a network, member organizations complement and add value to each other’s programs and have invested in structures that cover the breadth of the ASAL counties that can be used for rapid and timely delivery of interventions, whilst coming together with a collective voice against injustice.

The AHN provides a platform for the local NGOs to advocate for localization of Humanitarian Action, promote information sharing, engage stakeholders and hold duty bearers accountable, and coordinate actions of L/NNGOs in aid delivery to affected people and communities.


AHN Reports


Our Strategic Pillars


AHN Vision

Our vision is to have ASAL communities that are resilient and empowered. Families and communities in ASAL counties have the means to fulfill their needs and the power to voice their demands to duty bearers in Kenya.


AHN Vision

Our vision is to have ASAL communities that are resilient and empowered. Families and communities in ASAL counties have the means to fulfill their needs and the power to voice their demands to duty bearers in Kenya.


AHN Core Values

Throughout our work, we will adhere to the following values:


Our primary focus throughout is to improve local communities self-reliance, social justice and participatory decision-making.


Inspire and earn confidence from the people and communities we serve as well as other actors we closely work with.


Disclose our working in a transparent way and accept responsibility for our actions.


All members are dedicated to the vision, mission and success of the Network.


Our Governance Structure

The ASAL Humanitarian Network (AHN) is a voluntarily collective of local and national organisation present and active in the ASAL counties, unified around common issues and commitments. The AHN is not legally registered but operates through its members.

Steering committee

The steering committee members each represent one of the 10 ASAL Counties, with a minimum of 50% female representation. Each Steering Committee member is bound to represent all member organizations based in his or her county. The Steering Committee members are appointed at the AHN Annual Summit.


The AHN Secretariat is an independent body within the AHN, that is responsible for the day-to-day management and coordination of the network. The Secretariat consists of the AHN Convener, Strategic Coordinator and Humanitarian Program Manager. For the 2022 drought response funded by ECHO, a Consortium Coordinator is also hosted by the AHN Secretariat.

Working Groups

AHN Working Groups support the network in operationalizing its workplan and achieving its objectives. Currently, AHN has set up 6 working groups: Preparedness, Response, and Fundraising WG; Governance WG; Advocacy and Localization WG; Communication and Visibility WG; MEAL WG; and a Women Caucus. Each of the working groups is led by a chair and/or co-chairs that are appointed annually at the AHN Summit.