Kenya, over the last few years, has seen very sustained growth in its economy. An increase, however, still insufficient to spread well-being outside the main urban centers and characterized by a strong inequality between urbanized areas and the rest of the country. One in every six shillings spent on national domestic consumption is in fact consumed in the capital Nairobi.
However, rural areas play a major role in agricultural production and in the conservation of the fauna and forest heritage, which the strong demographic pressure and economic interests have heavily exploited: the country’s forest area has gone from 12.5% in 1963 to 2% of 2008. The strong media pressure and the commitment of public figures such as Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai have allowed that, at least at the policy level, there was a commitment to return the forest area equal to 10% by 2030, still well far from being achieved.
The forest area is right at the center of the interventions of Mani Tese and the local partner NECOFA in Kenya as it is crucial for the water cycle, the fight against erosion and soil depletion and the conservation of biodiversity, without forgetting the crucial contribution in the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore in the global fight against climate change.
The project’s intervention area is the Mau forest, recognized by the government as one of the country’s five water towers. The forest complex, the largest in Kenya, is at the origin of over 12 rivers, which are central to some of the most delicate and important ecosystems in the country, especially the Mara River, fundamental for the Masai Mara area, a world heritage site humanity, a nature reserve and the country’s main tourist destination. The forest also plays an important role in supplying the Lake Victoria basin and therefore indirectly the Nile River and the Baringo and Nakuru lakes, both important tourist destinations.
As part of our project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the team of Mani Tese and NECOFA worked on the construction of over 20 nurseries and the distribution of over 1 million trees. The distributed trees have a dual purpose: those planted along the Molo river and its tributaries serve to consolidate the embankments and fight soil erosion, the trees distributed to groups or small farmers are planted within their plots. The goal is to allocate at least 10% of the area of each farmer to trees to encourage reforestation, the fight against soil erosion and the supply of biomass for family consumption.
In fact, farmers, especially women, thanks to the presence of trees in their plot can have a continuous source of wood which for 10-15 years, through pruning, will represent an energy source for the family. At the end of their useful life, the trees can be sold, earning an income that will help the family and subsequent planting.
Our commitment alongside the small producers of the Mau forest uses integrated approaches that see the community as a protagonist in the preservation and protection of the forest.
“Panda miti!” (“Plant trees!” in the Kiswahili language) is an imperative of justice that all of us should apply to save our planet.
The AID 010149/MATE/KEN project is co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by Mani Tese and the local partner NECOFA.