Green energy programmes to revive Narok forest cover

Nkoilale Community Development Foundation in Narok,

Rikaton Kesier (right) and other members of Nkoilale Community Development Foundation in Narok, with their energy-saving stoves.

Photo credit: Millicent Mwololo | Nation Media Group

The three economic activities in Narok – agriculture, tourism and livestock keeping – are all tied to climate change. “To revive the economy of Narok and tourism in the Maasai Mara environmental conservation is key,” says Elizaphan Ogechi, the Executive Director at Nguzo Africa.

“We have experienced other periods of drought, but this one has ravaged not only food, water sources, and our livestock,” says Nelson Ole Nkirrokor, the Chief Executive officer at the Nkoilale Community Development Foundation (NCDF).

Both Nguzo Africa, a community foundation, and NCDF have partnered with the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) and I&M Foundation to green up Narok for improved livelihoods and reduced Carbon footprint.

KCDF is a development grant-making organization which has built a strong basis for community-driven approaches and is unique in Kenya as a pioneer of community philanthropy and sustainable development. KCDF works through strategic and carefully selected partnerships in Kenya, both at the national and community level.

The mission of the I&M Foundation is to deliver a positive impact to society through lasting solutions by engaging the planet, people and profit to create shared value for its stakeholders. 

Since November 2020, KCDF has been collaborating with I&M Foundation to foster community engagement in a three-year partnership to foster community engagement in environmental conservation in Kilifi and Narok Counties. 

KCDF and I&M Foundation are working in strategic partnerships with four local organisations, Nguzo Africa, Nkoilale Community Development Foundation (NCDF), A Rocha Kenya and Meda-F in environmental conservation. The project entails initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable practices such as tree planting in schools and public spaces, harnessing green energy and encouraging the adoption of energy-efficient cooking stoves.

In Nkoilale, KCDF and I&M Foundation are working with NCDF to plant 85,000 tree seedlings in schools and community spaces and install energy-saving stoves in homes and schools. Over 46,000 tree seedlings have been planted over the last two years.

Similarly, KCDF and I&M Foundation have partnered with Nguzo Africa and planted 60,300 tree seedlings across Narok South sub-County since 2021. This milestone, Hillary Cheruiyot, Project Officer at Nguzo Africa says, has been attained by working closely with 33 schools in the region.

“Climate change is a reality and we can feel the weight. Encouraging people to plant trees is now easier than when we started,” shares Mr Nkirrokor. The CBO has constructed small water pans with a dam liner on community spaces for tree-growing purposes.

Every quarter, KCDF uses geo-referencing to capture real-time data in their tree planting sites to audit the survival rates, says Patrick Mwangi, the monitoring, evaluation and learning officer at KCDF. This enhances transparency and accountability on their partners to ensure that the survival rate is high.

Schools heed the global call to offset carbon

In Narok South, at Larakwe Larakwe Primary School Johnston Mutai, the head teacher, has been leading teachers and pupils to green the compound in a project implemented by KCDF and I&M Foundation, in partnership with Nguzo Africa. The school has planted 1000 tree seedlings in the last two years.

“Over 800 trees have survived and the learners apply manure, weed and water them regularly,” Mr Mutai says. The school intends to plant another 1000 tree seedlings in the next year. 

NCDF is working with Nkoilale Primary School to enhance tree cover. The headteacher, Moses Paraiywa says that the growth of trees has made the school more habitable. 

At Naisudori Secondary School, Joseph Mutai, the headteacher has since 2017 been championing a tree planting drive every year.  In 2021, Nguzo gave us over 1000 tree seedlings for free through their partnership with KCDF and I&M Foundation, he says.  
“Over 90 per cent of the tree seedlings have survived. Each one of us has a responsibility to take care of the trees,” says Mr Mutai. 

The school has a feeding programme and has adopted the use of an energy-saving cooking stove. 

“This new energy-saving stove cooks fast and ensures that the food is clean and well cooked. It does not emit smoke and has reduced the consumption of firewood by over 60 per cent,” shares Julius Chepkwony, the school chef.

Prolonged drought remains a challenge and only two schools have been able to receive water tanks from Nguzo to re-activate tree growing. “There is a need for more water tanks and energy-saving stoves for schools and households, which cost Sh3,800 and Sh600, respectively,” shares Mr Cheruiyot.

In Nkoilale, women have embraced energy-saving cooking stoves. “It will save more trees when many women are collecting lesser firewood,” says Rikaton Kesier, a mother of seven in Nkoilale village.

Ms Keiser has already spotted a business opportunity in the construction, sale and installation of energy-saving cooking stoves. I am ready to take this project to other areas in Narok, she says. 

“The energy cooking stoves reduce the utilisation of wood fuel by up to 40 per cent,” Ann Tanui, a home economics officer at the Bomet County government says.

Climate change mitigation and SDGs

The conservation project by KCDF and I&M Foundation has integrated climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals (SDGs). Peter Warui, the programme coordinator for livelihoods and environment programmes at KCDF says that linking tree planting to livelihoods helps generate jobs for young people and grow incomes.

“When young people nurture tree seedlings for sale, grow trees for timber and other non-timber uses – it generates incomes and grows the economy,” shares Mr Warui. 

Besides saving budgets that would have gone towards the purchase of firewood, energy-saving cooking stoves help to save trees that would have otherwise been felled for fuel. “It is also a sure way to fight respiratory diseases and ensure preventive health at the household level,” Mr Warui explains. 

The construction and sale of energy-saving stoves for sale creates jobs and builds enterprises. A tree-planting culture and the use of energy-saving cooking stoves will help in developing counties where the tree cover is very low.