Teaching Climate Change in Rural Kenya

This is a gust blog from our media intern, Lucy Arndt, hailing from the U.K. Contact ask (at) wildlifeworks.com for our many internship opportunities in Kenya and the Congo. 

One of the most surreal things I’ve experienced since arriving in Kenya was being part of a teaching session on climate change with village elders – held entirely in Swahili.

In my first week here, I accompanied the Community Relations Department of Wildlife Works on a series of community visits to the rural communities that are part of the project area. One of these was a focus group discussion with village elders (clan leaders, school leadership, etc.) to explain the project aims and how their personal actions can make an impact.

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Can you imagine explaining the concept of greenhouse gases, how trees take in carbon dioxide and why trees are valuable for anything other than fuel to these folk in this situation? The majority of the people in these rural villages, especially in the older generation, don’t speak a word of English, and many have very low levels of education. When asked how old they are, many have no idea; they pull out national ID cards to show their birthdate but don’t know how to count the years to calculate their ages.

I sat there for the nearly two-hour discussion transfixed by the conversation taking place. Most of it, of course, I had no idea what was being said, but every so often I’d hear random words:

“…climate change…”

“…greenhouse gases…”

“…carbon…”

“…carbon credits…”

And at this point I’d learned a few key words in Swahili like that “ndovu” means elephant, “simba” is lion.

So in a way I was able to vaguely understand what was being said, and I challenged myself to follow the discussion as much as possible. (Thankfully, afterwards a Kenyan intern I’m working with kindly translated the main points and questions!)

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After a presentation to the focus group, including showing pictures of glaciers retreating in the Arctic and a polar bear balancing precariously on a tiny iceberg, there was a general discussion where community members asked questions:

“How do you sell the carbon? You are asking us to save trees, but do you then cut them down to sell the carbon??”

“You ask us to save trees, but elephants knock them down. How is that fair?”

“How are we compensated for elephants destroying our crops?”

All fair questions! And it all was fascinating! I was impressed that Wildlife Works is properly teaching climate change in order to get the community to understand the science, but as Protus (one of the Wildlife Works Community team) said in the discussion, “the change in weather you see is due to this carbon.” People really understand that. It’s getting dryer, hotter, during the ‘rainy’ season I arrived in Kenya to I saw the rain twice. Climate change in action. (I just have to recognize here how surprisingly easy that phrase is to write – as I’ve done countless times for reports and presentations for work or university papers – when the reality of what ‘climate change in action’ means here is so devastating.)

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The way the conservation model here works is that money comes back to the community (for education scholarships or water access projects) from the sale of carbon credits when deforestation is avoided (read more about the overall aims of the Wildlife Works project here). This means that collectively, the community has to buy into the fact that a standing forest and roaming animals are worth more to them alive than as charcoal or bush meat. One is far more intangible than the other.
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The aim with these discussions is to empower members of the community to own conservation goals and be ambassadors for protecting the forest and the wildlife that calls it home. To carry the learning back into their villages and homes and spread the word further. Pretty cool stuff, right?

To read more about Lucy’s adventures in Kenya, visit her blog. 

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Women’s Economic Empowerment Event

Wildlife Works strongly values women in the community and their autonomy to assume influential roles and set their own course. Last week, several members of Wildlife Works attended a women’s economic empowerment speech within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area in Kenya. The meeting featured Rachel Chebet, the wife of Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto, and focused on ‘table banking’.

Table banking is a practice that Mrs. Chebet started four years ago in the Taita Taveta region (where our project is based) to strengthen womens’ groups and promote economic stability. Table banking is a practice through which women organize into registered groups where each member contributes to a ‘group bank account’ that is then loaned out to women in the form of unsecured loans. As these loans are paid back with a 10% interest rate, the overall pot of money grows over time, allowing these groups to grow in wealth.

tabletop banking, kenya, women

The talk encouraged women to come together and register in groups of 15-35 people, as money that is given to communities by NGOs and the government is mostly funneled to registered and organized groups. Table banking is also highly important in regions like Taita Taveta because it allows women the ability to attain a loan outside of a microfinance organization, thus reducing the risks associated with missing deadlines on their loan repayments and higher interest rates.

The speech targeted over 2,000 women in Kasigau and Maurungu towns and was attended by nearly 600 women. Those who could not fit inside the community hall spilled out of the doors and watched from the windows. It was a lively affair. The event was strung together by the concept of women in power, with several influential women in attendance including the county Deputy Governor’s wife, prominent businesswomen, and a celebrity singer. From singing and dancing to praying and reflecting, the event had the attention of every last woman in the hall.

table banking, micro financing, kenya, women

Wildlife Works has helped to facilitate large community meetings like this one through improving the community hall space, including providing nearly 550 chairs to be used at events like this one using money from carbon credits. We believe it is of utmost importance to give the community the tools they need to take charge of their futures and make unified, diplomatic decisions for themselves.

table banking, micro financing, kenya, women

Through table banking, the women within our project area can finance their business endeavors and partake in economic growth that is profitable, meaningful, and sustainable. It is so great to witness events like these and see their success and impact. Watching many hundreds of women turn to each other and say “you need to fight” in unison was a spectacular example of how women are working with each other to promote economic stability within an area that is also protecting a valuable and beautiful ecosystem.

table banking, micro financing, kenya, women

Eco stoves Tackling Carbon Emissions

This is a post from a guest blogger, Francesco Mirabito who originally came through the Wildlife Works project area from Italy in June of 2015 as part of the Walk with Rangers event. He fell in love with Kenya and our wildlife sanctuary so he came back again to launch his Eco Stove product in partnership with Wildlife Works.

Eco stoves tackling carbon emissions, benefiting health and improving gender relations

Last summer, I had the opportunity to spend a few days walking through the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project with the Wildlife Works rangers.

During those wonderful days, walking, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the southeastern highlands of Kenya, I met people tirelessly devoted to the conservation of a masterfully preserved ecosystem and the community linked to it. These people have to deal with many challenges to meet their basic needs in a rural environment that has very limited natural resources.

While in the bush, I discovered how complex it can be to preserve so vast an area. For example, one day we came across piles of wood. The rangers explained to me that these were from illegal loggers cutting down trees within the Wildlife Works project area and we had to destroy the wood. Immediately, I realized that this is an issue even more controversial than poaching.

Everybody has the need to cook food, and the access to a clean and cheap energy resource is a right, making this issue very complex. In my time with Wildlife Works, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about ‘dirty cooking’ and its implications.

In Africa, over 90% of the wood taken from forests is for fuel. The majority is consumed directly as fuel and a substantial amount is also made into charcoal. More than 80% of charcoal is used in urban areas, making it the most important source of household energy in many African cities. In Kenya, annual production of charcoal is estimated to be around 1.6 million tons with households consuming between 350 and 600kg annually. It is estimated that about two million people are economically dependent on the production, transport and trade of this charcoal.

Negative impacts of solid cooking fuels

Health

Cooking with solid fuels, such as charcoal, wood or coal, produces significant levels of air pollution in the home environment. The effects are disturbing. Burning solid fuels produces particulates, carbon monoxide and a set of other harmful aromatics gases. These emissions can cause a long list of diseases, including respiratory damage, lung cancer and damage to the fetus and the growth of infants and children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these pollutants contribute to the premature death of at least 4.3 million people each year and to more than 110 million developing chronic illnesses (2010 data). The WHO has assessed home air pollution as the fourth highest risk factor for premature death in the world and the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Premature deaths as the result of these air pollutants exceed the sum of those for HIV-AIDS (1.5 million), malaria (1.2 million) and tuberculosis (1.2 million).

Climate change

Every year, it is estimated that the developing world produces emissions ranging from 500 million to 1.5 billion tons of CO2. This means that the absence of ‘clean cooking’ produces between 1.5% and 3% of global CO2 emissions, the equivalent, more or less, of the annual carbon footprint of a country like Britain (at the lower end of the range) or Japan (at the top).

You also cannot ignore the impact of solid fuels on open fire stoves which emit black carbon, which account for roughly a quarter of the total. While CO2 remains in the atmosphere for decades, black carbon has an atmospheric lifetime of 8-10 days. This means that their elimination could lead to rapid global warming benefits.

Gender inequality

Collecting and processing fuel and cooking food is, in developing countries, an almost exclusively female activity. The consequence is that women, and their daughters, are bearing the brunt of the social, economic and health effects of the ‘dirty kitchen’. For example, according to a World Bank report, in Kenya women are exposed to particulate emissions four times that of men. It is also hard physically; women carry heavy fuel weighing on average 20kg for long distances between 1 and 10km. According to estimates in circulation, the collection and use of solid fuels for cooking and heating results in time poverty, on average 5 hours a day. This is time that is taken away from other activities potentially productive of income and well being, from childcare to education. All in all, this trend crystallizes existing gender inequalities.

I think it’s easy to see that illegal logging is just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, intervening by only punishing those who cut down trees does not address the needs that drive people to cut.

A new cooking stove as an innovative solution

It was during a night campfire, watching the fire, that my mind went back to when I came across the work of Professor Peressotti from the University of Udine. It was something that I thought could radically change the way that rangers cooked their food.

Professor Peressotti’s team have developed a clean, efficient, easy to reproduce, but most importantly, sustainable stove, called ‘Elsa stove’. Their aims are to lessen the pressure of the population on their forested environment while increasing soil fertility of croplands and to ensure sustainable development (i.e. reducing the above mentioned health risks). The cooking stove technology uses mainly crop residues as a fuel source, and wood to a lesser extent, in a more efficient process meaning less solid fuel is used. Benefits include that biochar can easily be recovered, which is used as a natural fertilizer to build soil fertility, and that the burning process emits less harmful emissions.

So, this was the situation… I was sitting watching the fire thinking about how this technology could perfectly fit the needs of the community that was hosting me.

My time in Kenya had almost come to an end; in less than a week a flight would carry me back in Europe. I met with leadership of Wildlife Works, Rob Dobson and Jamie Hendriksen, to share the idea with them. Rob, VP of African Operations, said only: “Hmm, interesting, would you be able to create a prototype before you leave?” I thought: “Wow, finally someone pragmatic and direct.” My answer was: “Yes, of course.” The day after I was introduced to Nick, a really nice and clever guy that is in charge of the workshop. Together we found an appropriate metal sheet, cut six patterns and assembled a stove burner.

eco stove kenyaWildlife Works workshop guys cutting and assembling the first new stove design

The result was a small (cute, even!) burner that I tested with employees that Saturday. Even if it was just a prototype, the reaction of the crew was amazing. It was immediately clear to everybody that those small burners had the power to be a life changer for them and their community.

After returning to Italy, I prepared a project proposal and eventually I flew back to Kenya to put a plan into action. In early 2016, I arrived back at Wildlife Works to huge smiles and manifestations of joy for my return. The workshop guys got started on building the new stoves right away.

eco stove kenyaWildlife Works workshop guys proudly displaying the first batch of eco stoves

After two days of cutting, drilling and bending, we were ready for the first test. I was really worried, because that was my first full-scale test. So I decided to do the first test in a private way. Just Nicholas and I attended the test. It was a huge success; we obtained a strong and hot smokeless flame that lasted for almost two hours. That success pushed us a lot so we continued to assemble burners with renewed excitement. The day after we were ready for a real cooking test, which I did with Joyce and Pauline two of the lovely Wildlife Works employees. We perfectly cooked rice and beans and we did it without smoke, such a surprise for them.

Right away I started the deliveries of the stoves to the rangers’ camps and within two weeks we finished assembling all the stoves. When they were complete, I gave one to each of the workshop guys as a thank you. They were thankful and happy to have the opportunity to use this new technology in their own homes.

eco stove kenyaFrancesco delivering one of the eco stoves to a team of Wildlife Works’ rangers

After delivering stoves to all of the rangers, Samuel, one of the workshop guys, and I started doing demonstrations in the local villages. The people showed a lot of interest about this new way to cook and the most common questions were: “how much it cost?” and “where can I buy one?” I was really excited and had a strong sensation that the project was a big accomplishment. We are now in the process of rolling this technology out further with the local community.

At the end of my trip, I came back to Italy with my heart full of hope for the future, and I think that this was thanks to all the great people I met but especially for the incredible results obtained by Wildlife Works in the region.

I’m already working on the next step of the project. The idea is to use the same principle, the pyrolysis technology, to obtain clean and tenable energy.

Stay tuned!

Francesco Mirabito

 

Meet Alfred, Master Tailor and Leader

At Wildlife Works, job creation is central to our success as a community. The Wildlife Works eco factory is one of our larger departments here at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, with more than 60 current employees. In such a large group, we love to set aside the time to realize some of the very special individuals we are lucky to have on our team.

fairtradefashionMeet Alfred

Alfred Karisa works as a machinist on the skilled tailor team that produces for our high-end clients such as LaLesso and Raven and Lily. Before joining us in 2012, Alfred worked for a private firm as a tailor. He brings several years of experience to our team, including studying dressmaking and tailoring. Alfred is 26, unmarried, and is responsible and disciplined. Brought up from humble backgrounds, Alfred and his three siblings were raised by a single mother. As a result of his steady income through working for Wildlife Works, Alfred has been able to help fund his younger sister through school at Laikipia University.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-06-pmAlfred is one of Wildlife Works’ skilled tailors at our eco factory in Kenya

In addition to being one of our skilled tailors, Alfred is also the President of our Fair Trade USA Committee (read our one year anniversary story of being Fair Trade USA certified here). His personality, along with his ability to get along with just about everyone, was responsible for his election to president of the Fair Trade Committee – everyone trusts him. In this role, he represents the rest of the employee body in matters relating to Fair Trade and also organizes and facilitates meetings of the committee.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-14-pmAlfred is the President of the Wildlife Works Fair Trade USA Committee

We sat down with Alfred as he recalled his experience with Wildlife Works. “Wildlife Works has greatly helped the community, in the construction of schools, giving bursaries to students, building water tanks, and creating jobs,” says Alfred. He is proud to hold a position within his community that allows him to make positive change for his friends and family, coworkers and neighbors. “I feel empowered by working here, and am empowered to help my family and community,” continues Alfred. We hope the eco factory here at Wildlife Works continues to inspire and empower Alfred and the community for many years to come.

 

About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

 

Allan, The Screenprinter

At the core of Wildlife Works’ conservation strategy is job creation for people in wildlife-rich areas. In Kenya, at our Kasigau REDD+ project, we finance the development of several business operations, such as an eco-factory and the production of sustainable charcoal. In 2010, Wildlife Works started a screen-printing facility. In the beginning, this facility was in a single room, outside Wildlife Works’ premises, with four workers. Six years later, our screen-printing facility has developed into a renowned facility doing big orders for global clients, such as GlobeIn, Threads for Thought and Greater Good.

hand screen printing Meet Allan

Allan Kiplimo is one of our screen-printing assistants. He comes from the Nandi hills, in western Kenya. Allan was brought up by a single parent, his mother, together with four siblings. In his early years, he farmed in Nandi, but in search of greener pastures and better work he moved to southeastern Kenya and managed to secure a job at Wildlife Works in 2012. He had no printing skills when he joined but as time went by he learnt the skills through observation and training from his colleagues.

Today, Allan helps out with all sorts of roles around the factory, including testing the first lay of screen till they are perfect and ready for production and maintaining the screens throughout the process to ensure sustained quality.

hand screen printing Allan at work in the Wildlife Works’ screen printing factory

hand screen printing Allan is hardworking and an intelligent young man filled with energy and positivity about life. Since he joined Wildlife Works, he has saved money from his income and now owns a dairy farm in his home county, Nandi, where he employs someone to look after his business while he is away working. Allan also assists in paying school fees for his younger siblings, one of whom has finished his diploma, two of whom are in secondary school, and the youngest is still in primary school.

Despite Allan’s main challenge being that it is hard for him to manage his business due to distance, he is at the place in life he has always wanted to be – helping people and putting a smile on their faces. Allan has big plans for his future; he wants to one day be self-employed, grow his dairy business and be able to create more employment for others.

Thank you Allan for all your hard work, it’s been great to watch you grow and we know your future will be bright!

Fair Trade USA Certification – One Year On

The Wildlife Works’ factory, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, became Fair Trade USA certified in the spring of 2015. We were the first carbon neutral, fair trade factory in Africa! Now, just over a year later, we have been producing Fair Trade USA certified garments for clients around the world, such as Threads for Thought.

Our factory was founded in 2001 on ethical and fair trade policies – back before the fashion industry even had the words to describe sustainable fashion. Buying ethically made clothing is a meaningful way to vote with your dollar for a healthier planet and happier people. Buying Fair Trade USA certified is a way to transparently track the supply chain of your clothes. Our factory in Kenya produces quality made garments that support the local rural population and protect wildlife and trees.

One of the most significant benefits of producing Fair Trade USA that makes a real impact on workers lives is the Fair Trade USA ‘premium’. The premium is 1%-10% of the manufactured price of a garment that the client pays directly into a factory worker’s fund. A democratically elected committee of workers, who collectively decide how to use the money, manages this fund.

Fair Trade USAA meeting of the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee of factory employees to discuss Fair Trade USA matters

Thanks to the vision of our fashion clients and the commitment of their buyers, this money helps to further local empowerment and economic development and has made a big impact on the lives of our workers in rural Kenya. Our workers have used their Fair Trade USA premium money (which to date is a total of around $130 per employee) for things such as paying off school fees for their children, growing or starting small side enterprises and improving their living standards to have luxuries such as electricity and running water.

Read some of the inspiring stories of our fair trade workers here.

fair trade usaElipina
Elipina Wakio is a helper in our factory. Elipina is a single parent and has two children in primary school. With nearly half of this money, she bought six bags of cement to plaster the floor of her house that was previously just a dirt floor. The rest went to clearing her children’s school fees and purchasing new school uniforms for them, clearing her water bill and buying food. “Fair Trade USA orders give me the morale to put more perfection and energy into my work bearing in mind that I will benefit financially at the end of it,” Elipina commented.

Fair Trade USAFestus
Festus Mutua, a sewing machine operator, started working with Wildlife Works in 2011. He is married and has four children, three of whom are already married and one who is in high school. Festus spent his Fair Trade premium money on clearing school fees for his youngest son and boosting his wife’s local boutique business. With the rest of the money he purchased two female goats in order to start a small goat milk business on the side to supplement his income from working in the Wildlife Works’ factory. “I’m so happy being part of Fair Trade USA and I’m grateful to the financial support that I’m benefiting from,” he says.

Fair Trade USAHalima
Halima Chaka is a sewing machine operator who started working with us in 2011. She has six children who are all still in school. Nearly three-quarters of her Fair Trade premium has gone to opening a business in the local village where she sells vegetables, clothes, food, and household goods. With her remaining money, Halima cleared school fees for all of her children. “I’m so grateful for the financial support I have got from Fair Trade USA and it is my wish that these orders come in more frequently!” She added.

Fair Trade USAElipina
Elipina Sezi is a machinist who started working with us in 2012, married and has two children who are both in school. Elipina is a hardworking woman. With her Fair Trade USA money, she has renovated her home bringing to it modern standards of living such as adding electricity and water plumbing. She wishes to have more orders from Fair Trade as it helps her to continue home improvements for her family.

Community
With the last Fair Trade USA order, the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee voted to divide the premium money between themselves and community projects. 75% went equally between the employees and the remaining 25% is earmarked to buy new school uniforms for two local primary schools in the Wildlife Works’ project area – Marasyi and Itinyi. Alfred Karisa, President of the Fair Trade USA Committee, commented, “I want to say thank you to the concerned people who are Fair Trade USA customers. This gives everyone in the factory extra income but also helps us raise the standards of living for our community. Our only wish is that more people chose Fair Trade USA.”

Wildlife Works Scholarship Recipient Joins the Team

“I get satisfaction in my job through putting perfection into my work,” says Zanira Kasyoka, one of the lucky recipients of a Wildlife Works’ scholarship that fully sponsored her secondary education. Her talents and hard work stood out and she is now fully employed as an assistant in the Wildlife Works’ carbon-neutral, eco-factory office.

zaniraMeet Zanira, first a scholarship recipient now an employee

Zanira comes from a humble background in the village of Itinyi, Taita Taveta County, within our project area in Kenya. She was brought up by a single mother together with her elder sister. She now lives with her mother and grandmother, as her sister has married and moved out. Zanira finished secondary school in 2011, at Bura Girls National School and scored a grade B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.

After finishing school, Zanira was very grateful for the support from Wildlife Works and so she decided to apply to work as a contract laborer with us to show her appreciation and gain experience. She worked under a short-term contract in the greenhouse and as an office assistant where she worked very hard, and her sincerity and commitment shone through. After nearly two years, Wildlife Works was able to offer her a full-time job as an assistant in the eco-factory office in 2014. Zanira says she is very grateful and owes all her knowledge to Daniel, our factory manager, and Vicky, our factory office manager, who have mentored her from the beginning. Today, she helps out with processing orders, packaging clothes for shipment, shipping finished goods to our customers and bookkeeping.

zaniraZanira now works for our eco-factory. One of her responsibilities is to help with packaging clothes for shipment. Here, she’s packing an order for our client Globein. 

Ever since she joined Wildlife Works, her family life has never been the same again. Even at only 24 years old, Zanira is now the breadwinner in her family and she provides food and clothing for her mother and grandmother. Despite her main challenge of lack of school fees, she still has hopes and future plans that she will join university and pursue nursing.

zaniraEven though Zanira loves her job, she dreams of continuing her education further down the line

Zanira is one of more than 3,200 local students who have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships since 2004. This funding comes through distributing the profit made from selling carbon credits and is one of the ways in which Wildlife Works supports the local community, by realizing the value of the natural world and making the wildlife work for people.

Agriculture Mentor Program for Local Community Groups

Wildlife Works runs an organic greenhouse on-site at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya. Here, we raise indigenous tree seedlings that we donate to the community to help reforestation efforts as well as test growing techniques for local growing conditions. One of our main objectives is to run tours and training for anyone who wants to learn alternative methods for growing in the semi-arid, drought conditions of the Tsavo region.

Some of the best practice growing methods we teach include water conservation through techniques such as vertical farming (where water trickles vertically down a pod watering more plants rather than draining away into the soil) and introducing people to crops that grow suitably in the local soil and with minimal water. Through this training, we hope to encourage activities that reduce reliance on traditional slash and burn agriculture and assist with water conservation.

In the past year, Wildlife Works has expanded this agriculture mentoring work into supporting several local women’s groups in setting up their own greenhouses within surrounding communities. Two new community greenhouses are now up and running in the villages of Marungu and Bungule where women are growing tomatoes, spinach, beans and more to sell. Wildlife Works’ role was in managing arrangements with suppliers, advising on crop planning and best practice, providing labor for and supervising the building process, nurturing seedlings for planting, and, in the Bungule village case, securing funding.

greeenhouseGeorge Thumbi, Wildlife Works Greenhouse Manager, helps install irrigation

greenhouseWildlife Works employee connects a water barrel on site

greenhouseCompleted greenhouse in the village of Bungule

greenhouseGeorge advising local women on best practice growing techniques

This work is part of Wildlife Works’ efforts to increase the capacity of local communities for self-sufficiency and get them away from depleting the forest.

 

* * * * * * * * *

About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Reproductive Health Education and Support for Wildlife Works Communities

Within the captivating yet isolated hills of Sagalla, Taita Taveta County, Kenya, 20 women and two men came together to form a self-help group with the objective of improving reproductive health. Rauka Reproductive Health Group meets at the Sagalla Health Centre under the auspices of the Sagalla community health unit.

reproductive healthMembers of Reproductive Health Group

Hygiene is a common concern for people living in poverty in developing nations. Rauka Reproductive Health Group felt the need to address issues that are related to reproductive hygiene, especially menstruation hygiene, to assist women and girls in the area. With this initiative, the group has been able to reduce traditional birth deliveries where now pregnant mothers are escorted to health facilities for safe delivery. This helps to prevent mother-to-child transmission of diseases, particularly HIV. The group also has home-based care where they conduct home visits to HIV patients to ensure individuals take their medication.

reproductive healthMembers of the group making reusable sanitary towels

Wildlife Works supports local health groups in various ways to improve the health status of local people. For example, a major challenge facing Rauka Reproductive Health Group is insufficient raw materials. We provide a solution by providing scraps from our eco factory for this group to make affordable, reusable sanitary towels to help those who cannot afford disposable sanitary pads.

reproductive health Wildlife Works community relations officer, Emily Mwawasi giving out scraps to the group

Supporting the Community that Supports Your Production

The SOKO Community Trust is the community outreach arm of the ethical clothing factory, SOKO, that operates within the same Export Processing Zone as Wildlife Works and with whom we share knowledge and implement community projects.

Soko and their clients invest in initiatives that support the community in which they produce: Maungu, Kenya, where Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project operations are based. The SOKO Community Trust’s initiatives aim to provide people with the practical skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty.

On 22th June 2016, The Trust celebrated the launch of two new programs: Stitching Academy Hub and the Pipeline Roadshow

asos foundation kenya soko launchWildlife Works Community Relations Officer, Joseph Mwakima, presents at the Launch event

Stitching Academy Hub

The Stitching Academy Hub is a new sewing machine facility that offers graduates of the Stitching Academy, a seamstress training facility run by SOKO Community Trust, use of industrial sewing machinery for the further development of their sewing skills, career development, and technological skills advancement. The Hub seeks to provide a platform for innovation and creativity in creating viable business ideas as well as strengthen Academy graduates:

  • Entrepreneurial culture,
  • Business education,
  • Financial and computer literacy, and
  • Employability skills.

asos foundation kenya soko launchStitching Academy graduates wave hello from the new Stitching Academy Hub

asos foundation kenya soko launchStitching Academy graduates dancing to celebrate the Hub Launch

The Hub launch ceremony was attended by County administrators, local chiefs, religious leaders, members of the community as well as a team of representatives from the ASOS Foundation, the charitable division of the large online retailer ASOS, which provides funding for SOKO Community Trust’s projects.

The nine students who have so far graduated from the Stitching Academy’s three-month course also participated in the launch. Milka Mwende, who was unable to complete primary school, graduated from the Stitching Academy, said that she loves sewing and she hopes to make a living out of it using the Hub facilities.

The main benefit of the Hub is to help young people like, Milka, who struggled in school gain practical skills and find ways to sustain themselves.

asos foundation kenya soko launchMilka Mwende practices her newly acquired sewing skills at the Stitching Academy Hub

Rob Dodson, Vice President African Field Operations Wildlife Works, spoke during the launch saying that the Stitching Academy Hub help to bridge the difficult gap between education and finding full time work.

Pipeline Roadshow

The SOKO Community Trust also launched the Pipeline Roadshow, a traveling team of professionals who train, support and offer services to the local community. The launch services provided free eye exams by experts and trained community members from the Kwale District Eye Centre. The Pipeline Roadshow’s goals are to support:

  • Financial literacy,
  • Family health and planning,
  • Young women’s health, and
  • Free eye clinic.

asos foundation kenya soko launchCommunity members waiting to be seen by eye doctor

asos foundation kenya soko launchWoman from the community receiving an eye test from women trained by the Kwale District Eye Centre

asos foundation kenya soko launchElderly woman being examined by the eye doctor

asos foundation kenya soko launchCommunity members receiving eyeglasses and eye drops

The Maungu eye clinic screened over 230 patients, distributed nearly 150 eye drops and 90 glasses, and identified nine patients for cataract surgery. All services were free, except the glasses, which cost 50 Kenyan Shillings, the equivalent of 5 US cents. The Pipeline Roadshow will now continue to a further five villages around the Kasigau area to bring health and entrepreneurial benefits to the local communities.

Wildlife Works, SOKO Community Trust and ASOS Foundation believe these initiatives are a key strategy for stimulating self-employment and creation of jobs and will continue to work together to bring these benefits to the local community.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.