Category Archives: Conservation

EXPLORING CHICKEN REARING-AN INCOME GENERATING PROJECT FOR ASSETS

It is exactly 15 years since the birth of our ASSETS programme in 2001. The journey has not been easy ensuring that the promise we made back then is fulfilled. The ASSETS Eco-bursaries have been coming from our esteemed donors and proceeds from our Eco-tourism projects in Mida Creek and Gede Ruins.

Fueled by the conviction of conserving our Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek together with the community members at large, there have been financial constraints, inadequate support from some of the community members and accountability issues which mar the project. However we have withstood the storm and heeded to the vision, “nature conserved people transformed”; it’s what you use that makes a difference and creates the echoes of the raising voice”

ASSETS, which has stood the test of time, has been able to disburse scholarships to many bright and needy students that come from the villages adjacent to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, amidst difficult years for the tourism industry since most of the funds are sourced from the ecotourism facilities at Mida Creek and Gede Ruins. It is due to all these that we thought it right for some time now that we think of another finance generation project that will keep us going. Though it may not bring a lot of returns in this near future we are certain that it will surely help in the future.

Chicken rearing is the project we embarked on beginning this year.  It’s not only about paying for their bursaries, but also educating them on how to care for the creation. We have seen it right that there is need for the young children who are growing up to be educated on the environment so as to cultivate a positive curiosity that will drive them to conserve and protect their environment so that in reality they can witness the above imagination. Barlow, in Confluence of Streams, puts it nicely: “children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for nature. Properly cultivated, these values can turn into sustainable patterns of living.”

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The chicken rearing is not only to generate funds but also to be a platform where the community can come and learn how to rear local chickens in their homesteads. This will reduce the pressure on the habitats we are conserving for our endangered species. Educating the young generation will influence the whole community at large.

 

THE YEAR 2015, THE HOPE AND PROMISE OF 2016

Conservationists of all persuasions have embarked on a quest for environmental sustainability but in the face of an acutely difficult task we all need to consider what would motivate us to achieve it”- Peter Harris (Kingfisher’s Fire).

In retrospect, the motivation for the previous year for the A Rocha Kenya team can certainly be traced to the reinforcement of the Christian principles already upheld by the staff. This was instilled and fueled by the bible studies conducted every Monday morning which inspired and rallied the team to take care of God’s creation as alluded to in the book of Genesis, despite their job descriptions. It was further propelled by the visit of the A Rocha Founder- Peter Harris and his wife, Miranda Harris. They were able to be involved in the A Rocha Kenya’s activities and in turn they motivated the team and inspired many more in churches at Nairobi and Malindi through preaching the gospel of care for creation, by emphasizing the need for Christians to reconcile with God and his creation and ensuring restoration of God’s creation

Focusing on the Science and Conservation team, they were able to get a lot of research work going on. Despite being a team of two, they still soldiered on with support from numerous volunteers, interns and even the rest of the staff members. The terrestrial research team was able to conduct several bird ringing exercises held at Mwamba, Gede Ruins, Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. The annual water fowl counts were successfully carried out followed by many others at Mida Creek. One of the major highlights was mapping of the newly acquired Kirosa Scott Reserve and the monitoring of the endangered Clarke’s weaver breeding sites in Dakatcha Woodland. The team was also able to host several researchers.

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Moving on to the marine side of things, the year marked a beehive of activities for the team ranging from research in the intertidal rock pools to the coral gardens of Watamu Marine Park. The major highlight of the year was the presentation of marine research work that has been conducted by A Rocha Kenya since the year 2010 until the end of 2014 in the Watamu Marine Park. This was spearheaded by Benjamin Cowburn and Peter Musembi. They organized workshops at Watamu, Mombasa and Nairobi where several stakeholders were invited including Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, National Museums of Kenya, Watamu Marine Association, Watamu Turtle Watch and boat operators. However, it was not all hard work and no play for the marine team, there was always the occasional recreational snorkeling and swimming for anyone willing to join.

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The larger Community and Conservation team worked to bridge the gap between the research team and the community at large, getting them to understand the need to restore the threatened habitats and ecosystems. The team was able to oversee the implementation of two projects into fruition, with one targeting empowerment of community forest associations (community groups who are actively involved in management and conservation of forests) through building their capacities and the other targeted empowering communities in Dakatcha Woodland through a livelihood project that promoted the adoption of Farming God’s Way (a conservation agriculture model). On the other hand, the pioneer program of the department-ASSETS, which has stood the test of time, was able to disburse scholarships to the many bright and needy students that come from the villages adjacent to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, amid a difficult year for the tourism industry since most of the funds are sourced from the ecotourism facilities at Mida Creek and Gede Ruins. Lastly, the vibrant environmental education team was able to conduct many lessons that were taught in schools around Dakatcha Woodland, Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Watamu Marine Park and Bamba.

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The mother of all- Mwamba Field Study Center, was able to host numerous guests throughout the year. They included researchers, volunteers, holiday makers, kite surfers and honeymooners. The year saw the center introduce a restaurant which is up and running, offer accommodation to water sports enthusiasts, host numerous workshops and to crown it all hold a kids festival followed by a successful fundraising dinner for the ASSETS program.

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Karara Field Study Center-which acts as the national base of A Rocha Kenya at Karen in Nairobi did not lag behind. The team was able to conduct numerous Farming God’s Way training, host several schools for environmental education lessons plus carry out various outreach activities to various community groups and churches.

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In order to instill and reinforce the spirit of team effort. The two teams from Nairobi and Watamu were able to participate in a team building exercise that saw them go on a blue safari that involved snorkeling at the Watamu coral gardens, lunch at the pristine Sudi Island and participate in beach games thereafter.

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It is my belief that there is no blueprint for a perfect course of action, since it is our job to identify it. The idea that there is such a blueprint reduces the whole business to a kind of a celestial game show with dire consequences for wrong guesses, but sadly it seems to be widely believed. However, this demonstrates our path for the New Year filled with uncertainty but promising with hope as written in Jeremiah 29:11 and Mathew 6:23-33. Certainly, I am convinced, the team will able to achieve even more than the previous year and continue ensuring nature is conserved while people’s lives are transformed.

FARMING GOD’S WAY WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES

A Rocha Kenya offers a great opportunity for conservation awareness and action to the community living around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. Constant involvement and encouragement of the members of Muvera WA ASSETS is crucial to keep the interest of the community in conservation. Tree nursery management, tree planting and use of farming God’s way methods in their farms is very key.

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Farming Gods Way is a farming practice that has proven to be productive in places where it has been practiced, in fact it is a method that borrows insights from how GOD Himself being the First farmer does ‘’Farming ‘’ as observed from what happens in the forest where so many litters of leaves decay to provide the land with the best ever nutrients for plants to grow well. At Gede we have the FGW demonstration plot aiming at imparting knowledge to people that we work with so that they replicate this to their farms. The outcome from the plot is extremely encouraging, the crops that were grown from the FGW demo sites were healthy and its yields were extremely high that we have been selling the produce and the money proceeds to the ASSETS different programs.

With these results in mind we have extended the plot to accommodate other crops that were initially not kept in the demo site. We have increased nine plots so that we can grow other types of crops that are on demand, such as spinach, onions, dania and carrots among others.

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Apart from all these, farming God’s way trainings will soon be introduced to our target audience so that everyone is well aware of all the benefits and importance of FGW. As it has proven to be more and more productive, Farming God’s Way is bringing hope to farmers in Dakatcha. Mr Stephen Moneni is slowly reaping the benefits after two seasons of practice. ‘It is amazing that I didn’t have to weed my plot during the second season’, he says, ‘and the difference between the plot and the rest of the farm is evident, I am pleased’. Having been a strict maize farmer, Stephen has now diversified his crops and made compost for his farm in a bid to increase his yields.DSCN1134

 

MEET DORIS; THE ASSETS BENEFICIARY WHO GETS SATISFACTION THROUGH GIVING BACK TO HER COMMUNITY.

“Were it not for A Rocha Kenya’s ASSETS program, i don’t know how my life would be today,” said Doris Furaha an ASSETS beneficiary who hails from Kahingoni Village in Kilifi County.

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Doris(left) with A Rocha Kenya’s volunteer Rebecca Eastwood.
Despite having passed her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examinations highly in the year 2010 at Kahingoni Primary School, Doris Furaha’s future seemed bleak. Her parents; who are small scale could barely afford to enrol her in a secondary because of their meagre earnings. The second born in a family of two could only pray for luck to come her way.
And lady luck sure did knock on her door when she was selected as an ASSETs beneficiary in the year 2011.She was enrolled at Bahari Girls High School where she obtained a mean grade of B- in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E) examinations.
“Teaching these young boys and girls keeps me busy and helps me avoid bad company but to top it all sharing my knowledge with these young people gives me satisfaction. The sight of me here, is an enough motivation for them to work even more harder despite the challenges they face.” She said at Kahingoni Primary School where she volunteers as an English, Kiswahili, Social Studies and Science teacher. Doris has been a volunteer teacher at Kahingoni primary since May 2015.

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Doris with her mum
Even as she keeps on equipping these young ones with the knowledge she still holds onto her dream of becoming a clinical officer someday. It is her prayer that she will be able to join the university and study her dream course.
ASSETS is a well targeted sustainable development programme that provides secondary school scholarships, meeting the economic and social needs of the local community whilst promoting the conservation of two of Africa’s most important ecosystems: Arabuko Sokoke and Mida Crreek in the Kenyan North Coast.

Re-awakening Ngong Forest User Groups

 

Ngong Forest is unique because it is the only indigenous forest located in the confines of a city. About 80% of its 208 species of trees and plants are indigenous.
It is rich in biodiversity with about 190 species of birds and 35 species of mammals. Besides, it supports various rivers including Mbagathi and Ngong-Motoine. Our mission as A Rocha Kenya is to transform people`s lives so that they can conserve nature and we are committed to empowering the Ngong Forest user groups so that they can realise this objective. We are currently using the Community Forest Association trainings as a platform to address the challenges that the forest has been facing. Encroachment, urbanisation, mining, illegal logging and invasive species are some of the major challenges here.
Olulua Forest Environmental Participatory group, one of the user groups we are working with, has realised a major achievement. On 27th January this year, we taught them how to make compost manure using Lantana camara and Tithonia diversifolia. The group has embraced this fully and are now composting using the above mentioned weeds which are alien. These species are rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium and Manganese.
This is an innovative and environmentally friendly way of turning harmful invasive weeds into beneficial uses. One could say, ‘Killing two birds with one stone.’

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Members gathering Lantana camara.

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Sprinkling water onto the compost.

A Trip to ASSETS Schools

It is on a Wednesday morning, the 28th day of January. It is 8 am as we leave our Gede office. We are visiting ASSETS schools to establish a list of the pupils who scored atleast 320 marks in the final exam; Kenya Certificate of Primary Education(KCPE).

Our  Maruti crawls through a dusty  road and before long , we arrive at Mijomboni Primary School.We issue the head teacher with an A Rocha Kenya newsletter before the Wild Life Club patron hands us the names of the pupils who, out of the 500 marks, were able to garner 320  or more. We have bursary application forms that we give to the patron, the pupils are to get them from him.This is what we are going to do in each of the other schools we are yet to visit.

The next school on our list is Girimacha and we drive along a dusty route winding on the edge of Arabuko Sokoke Forest. From here, we drive to Malanga and our car has to pass through an eroded path full of potholes and sometimes confine its wheels between gulleys. At around 11 am we arrive at Bogamachuko Primary School. The patron, here, gives us the list of the top perfomers and dares to inform the head teacher, who is in a meeting with parents, that ASSETS team has arrived. The head teacher comes out promptly. I see it on her face that she is very happy that we are here. 12 pupils. That is the number we get here, the largest so far.We leave Boga ( this is how they proudly abbreviate the name of their school here)  and drive to Kahingoni, then Nyari, Mzizima, Mida and back to Gede in the evening. What a round!

We look at the list.We have 45 pupils with atleast 320 marks. Then  we remember that our budget is not as fat and we will have to recruit only 30 of them to the bursary scheme this year. We would later do assessment which involves collecting the application forms and visiting the pupils in their homes to interview them. One of the decisive criteria in this assessment is living close to Arabuko Sokoke Forest or to Mida Creek atleast 3 years before sitting the exam.

At some point I remember what Peter and Miranda Harris, the A Rocha founding couple, said,” [E]very A Rocha family that we visit around the world, we tell them how ASSETS has brought hope to the young generation and is progressively changing people`s perceptions and attitudes towards conservation” This reminds me of Boga, the best ASSETS school this year. I have taken one photo of a few pupils standing in front of their school`s sign board and realised that some other pupils in a room, that is worthy quite a  trouble of upgrade, were staring at me and I can not quite tell the speed with which I captured them too, when their teacher said,” These are visitors from A Rocha Kenya. We need help and I know that they can help us” Faces of pupils yearning for hope.

Here at A Rocha Kenya, we are glad that our readers, supporters and donors do not disappoint. They are a generous lot that progressively are making ASSETS be a story of hope.

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Launching of the green schools program

A Rocha Kenya’s Conservation Officer Mr. Festus was privileged to attend a launching of the Green Schools program which was initiated By His Excellence President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nyandarua County at Mikinga Primary school. This was then to be replicated in the whole republic, it was time for coast to launch this program and Bale Primary School in Ganze Sub-County was the focal point for the event.

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The event was graced by the Minister for Environment and Natural resources in Kilifi County Hon.Mwachitu, Head of Conservancy Coast Mr. Nderitu and Ecosystem conservator Mr.Maina. There were lots of entertainment during the forum; Bale primary school traditional dancers really entertained the guests with their traditional songs and dances.

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This was really encouraging seeing people taking charge in an Event like this which goes hand in hand with the Objectives of A Rocha Kenya as an Organization.

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A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the.“Deuteronomy 11:12.

 

Inspiring entertainment by the ASSETS beneficiaries and their parents

On the 7th of October 2014, we held a grand opening ceremony for the new Environmental Education resource facility. Bishop Julius Kalu officiated the official opening.
We had several entertainments as the ceremony was taking place from primary school students, an ASSETS beneficiary, a choir and a play by the community. The ASSETS beneficiary a young bright man from Gede boy’s high school gave a small talk on how the program has played an important role in his life and the importance of conserving the environment.

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The primary school students presented two songs about the dangers of not conserving the environment, the importance and urged the people to conserve the environment. The choir also did a wonderful job to emphasize on the same singing a wonderful song about the environment.

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The community wasn’t left behind  they  performed a play:  a group of parents whose kids benefit from the program. They illustrated very well why people should not go around poaching elephants and other wild animals and the consequences of such actions.

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The entertainment was…i cant really find the right words to describe it but let me say it was simply breathtaking!

MEKATILILI SCHOOL VISIT

Imagine a world without sustainable land, or living oceans! Our natural resources exist in a fragile balance and are vulnerable to environmental changes. That’s why it’s important that we all do our part to conserve, preserve, and care for the Earth’s resources and protect the environment that sustains us.

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A Rocha Kenya team made a visit to Mekatilili School and taught the pupils the importance of being good stewards of the earth- for all of us have to share the Earth’s fragile ecosystems and precious resources, and each of us has a role to play in preserving them.

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The theme of the days environmental education was;” ecosystem is a complex set of relationship among the living resources, habitats, and residents of an area.” The function was successful and pupils were encouraged and promised to take care of the environment.

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We need to be  proactive in protecting the earth’s ecological balance. If we are to go on living together on this earth, we must all be responsible for it.

ARABUKO SOKOKE SNARE WALK…

In a forest ecosystem, living things are interdependent, and they are also dependent on water, light, temperature, space, topography, soil type, chemicals, nutrients and other factors. If something in an ecosystem changes drastically, for example, if there is a sudden change in weather or even cutting down forests for development or agricultural purposes obviously reduces their biodiversity.

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A Rocha Kenya joined the David Ngala, two KFS rangers, Mvera wa ASSETS parents and the beneficiaries themselves for a snare walk in Arabuko sokoke forest. The purpose of the snare walk was to create awareness and to help remove any snares they come across and take action on any other illegal activities.

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We dint observe any active snares but we saw two old snares (probably 3months old), logging of trees for timber and building. It was a productive walk for the Mijomboni parents and beneficiaries had firsthand experience of what poachers have turned our forest into.

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We are hoping and praying that the word will spread, the destruction of our forests to stop and conserving it to be our passion.