Next to Enkare Narok River in Narok South, a tree nursery is thriving. Here, there are about 50,000 seedlings of trees such as cypress, blue gum, grevillea robusta, croton, whistling pine, acacia, and macadamia.
Planted and maintained by Nguzo Africa, the seedlings will later be distributed to various learning institutions and public facilities for transplanting.
“Over the past couple of years, Narok County has witnessed a high rate of forest and environment degradation thus affecting the livelihoods of more than 1.2 million people. We have observed that most trees are felled down by households practicing agriculture. Due to the rampant destruction of trees, locals have witnessed rampant cases of flooding, drought, strong winds, and dust. Further, there are fewer trees to attract rain which endangers not just the people, but also the livestock and wild animals in the Maasai Mara ecosystem,” says Elizaphan Ogechi, Executive Director, Nguzo Africa.
Through the “Adopt a Tree” initiative supported by the I&M Foundation in partnership with KCDF, the community development organization has a target of planting 1million trees in schools and public spaces in three years by encouraging the community to undertake reforestation, agroforestry, clean energy, water harvesting, and waste management as a measurement to correct the environment degradation.
To bring members of the community on board to adopt a tree, Ogechi says that they have been holding campaigns and market outreaches to enlighten residents on the importance of the conservation of trees and alternative sources of light and fire.
In 2020, through the support of the I&M Foundation and KCDF partnership, Nguzo Africa gave some farmer households solar lanterns. Jackline Nangisa from Ololulunga, Narok South is one of the beneficiaries of this initiative.
“I have three children and one of them has a right-hand deformity. To help her access support, I joined the Ololulunga physically handicapped self-help group, and it is through this support group that I received a solar lantern. Before, we depended on firewood as our source of light when cooking and reading. The provision of the solar lantern has particularly helped my children because they are now able to study early in the morning and at night before going to sleep,” she offers.
In her quest to conserve the environment, Nangisa has also benefited in that she charges her phone and that of her son on the solar lantern.
“Without this, I would part with Kes. 40 after every two days or so to have our phones charged. Now, I use the money to put food on the table,” she shares.
Working with Schools
According to Ogechi, the “Adopt a Tree” Initiative is already present in 27 of the 50 schools that they are working with.
One of the schools is Ongata primary school in Narok South. Last year, they received over 1,000 trees comprising of different species which they have planted within the school to combat the climate crisis.
Christine Kurere, the school’s headteacher welcomed the project into the school and says that the learners are much elated to undertake tree planting and taking care of the trees. “In the morning before they go to their classes, they water the plants and do it again before going home. Most of these pupils have not seen trees being planted so it is a novel experience to them. Further, having learned and experienced the effects of land degradation, this is a good way to teach them about environmental conservation,” she shares.
Peter Warui, Programme Coordinator for the Livelihoods Programme at KCDF says that KCDF is working closely with Nguzo Africa to provide communities in Narok County with trees and energy-saving jikos. “We selected this place because of what is happening to its ecology, and we want to change that,” he shares.
Source of Seeds
Nguzo Africa sources for seeds from farmers in the region or from other organisations such as Vi Agroforestry in Kitale. While working with schools and county officials to reach more people, they face a number of challenges. “Narok is a big County, and the learning institutions are far apart. As such, the cost of transporting the seedlings is very high. Further, our outreaches and campaigns involve moving from one ward to another which rockets our expenditures. However, we are determined in expanding our tree nurseries efforts despite this. Narok County has a plan to plant 43 million trees and we are intentional in being part of the enablers of that County target,” says Ogechi.
Under the partnership with KCDF, I&M Foundation has set aside an investment of over Kes. 50 million in the next three years which is expected to benefit over 5,000 households in Kilifi and Narok Counties.
Among many of the rural communities where KCDF works, a majority rely on agriculture and natural resources to survive. For these people, the effects of climate change - limited water, energy, food sources and increased competition for them - are a critical matter. As a result, considering the challenges each community is facing, and then developing localized solutions that will make the biggest impact remains a big challenge. KCDF together with its partners is broadening its approach in this area by strengthening the capacity of communities to have a voice in conservation initiatives affecting.