ASOS INVESTS IN THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN COMMUNITY, PUTTING THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR BOTTOM LINE IS

ASOS Africa’s line is not only inspired by Africa but is also produced in Africa. ASOS has been working with our production partner, cut-and-sew house SOKO-Kenya, for over four years now. The international fashion company’s commitment to working in Kenya (and in other sustainable ways) has paid off; sales from their green line grow with each collection, which has allowed ASOS to invest deeper in their supply chain community. Asos Africa

As a result of ASOS’s continued orders, SOKO-Kenya was able to expand their small coast-side factory into Wildlife Work’s production site in the Kenyan bush located between Tsavo East and West National parks. With our combined resources, we are able to better support both our clients and our surrounding community. Seeing the impact of their orders to sustain jobs in a poverty-stricken area, The ASOS Foundation became interested in donating to the Kasigau communities to maximize their benefaction in 2013. With the help of Wildlife Works’ and our deep relationships with our community leaders, ASOS has been able to effectively and directly put money into areas of most need.

Bughule polytechnic

Bughule polytechnic

 

The ASOS Foundation’s first donation totaled Ksh 124,755 (US $ 1,430) and was put towards the renovation of Bungule Youth Polytechnic (BYP) in April 2013. The money was designated primarily for the renovation of doors, roofs, windows, door locks, wall paintings, as well as workshop equipment. A later donation of Ksh 1,227,280 (US $ 14,000) was then allocated for the building of office furniture and beds, construction of a water tank, installation of electricity and electrical wiring, and teachers’ salaries. These renovations were essential to providing a safe and comfortable environment for the students and teachers to further their education goals.

Bughuta Secondary

The ASOS Foundation then provided Ksh 224,825 (US $ 2,580) for the construction of 50 chairs and 50 lockers to the Bughuta Secondary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest donation, however, went towards the construction of the Kula Kila Rock Catchment in Kasigau location. For this project the ASOS Foundation donated Ksh 5,777,269 (US $ 66,200) for the excavation of the site, construction of catchment walls and a 250,000 liter water tank! This project has been an incredible success and will result in a great improvement for the life of the communities.

Kuli Kila water catchment funded by ASOS Foundation

 

 

 

 

Water is a very scarce resource in this semi-arid environment, but through the new water catchment, communities are able to harvest the rainwater for use in dry spells. During this year’s rains, the tank has already filled up twice, and we hope it will continue to do so.   The latest donation representing the most direct investment in their supply chain in Kenya, was to SOKO’s own charitable trust to open the ASOS-Foundation-sponsored new Stitching Academy, which opened its doors in Maungu in June 2014.

ASOS Foundation Stitching Academy with Soko-Kenya

ASOS Foundation Stitching Academy with Soko-Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With an ever-increasing need for qualified seamstresses, the Stitching Academy is a sewing training facility that offers a 2-month training course to 10 people at a cost of Ksh 3,000 (US $34.00). The curriculum has been designed in-house and will provide students with the technical skills required for the garment manufacturing industry hence improving students’ chances of securing employment and/or setting up small enterprises of their own.

ASOS Foundation Stitching Academy

ASOS Foundation Stitching Academy

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOKO put the word out amongst the local community earlier this year and held numerous interviews in May. Twenty-four men and women attended this recruitment process, amongst which SOKO selected the first 10 students. SOKO held an official opening ceremony on the 19th June at the Stitching Academy’s site in Maungu, together with three official visitors from ASOS. Joanna Maiden, SOKO’s founder and Director, is extremely excited about this new project and sees this as having an empowering impact on the local communities. It is planned to hold four courses per year, with the next course due to begin in September this year. We applaud ASOS for producing against the tide of fast fashion. Their sustainable supply chain strategy has proven to align with their profit goals and their customers are responding.

A Letter from Our Head Ranger

ELEPHANT POACHING STILL HIGH

Elephant and rhino poaching has recently been declared a “national disaster” in Kenya by former head of Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) Richard Leakey. The magnitude of poaching has reached terrifying levels and poachers are  operating with outrageous impunity, backed up by an extraordinary network of organized crime.

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Unfortunately the Kasigau Corridor has not been immune from this increase in elephant poaching. Whilst the year started relatively calmly, March and April saw a significant rise in poaching incidents, totaling 30 elephants by mid May. The worst incident to date saw six elephants shot dead on Dawida Ranch, four of which were youngsters not bearing tusks. A further three elephants were lost on Amaka Ranch in March. This indicates the indiscriminate nature of killing that the poachers engage in, as well as the ruthlessness of the individuals involved.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.27.03 AMTo combat this, Wildlife Works has been working closely with KWS and other official organizations to tighten security in the area. We have increased patrols and security measurements significantly. In particular, we have drastically increased aerial surveillance throughout the project area thanks to the support of an additional aircraft pilot. Weather permitting, Keith Hellyer, a Canadian conservationist, has been lending his time and the use of a gyrocopter to patrol the 200,000 ha large project area and beyond at least twice a day. This helps the security team to locate illegal activities, carcasses or charcoal camps early on and respond accordingly.

Furthermore, Wildlife Works has also employed six additional wildlife rangers from the surrounding communities in order to increase manpower. The new recruits have already been orientated with Wildlife Works’ security operations and they have all been posted to the various ranger camps where they are taking up their patrol and surveillance responsibilities. Wildlife Works continues to be committed to the protection of wildlife and will do everything in its power to prevent the further slaughter of these majestic animals.

A LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY FROM OUR HEAD RANGER, ERIC SAGWE

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Dear Readers,

I wish to express my personal and sincere gratitude to all of you who have helped make the Kasigau Phase I and II REDD+ Project a success for the past few years! Despite the challenges we are facing inside the project area, especially regarding a recent escalation in poaching incidents, my ranger teams are working tirelessly with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to ensure the culprits involved are caught and remain in police custody, so that justice can be served. In the first five months of 2014 alone, we have lost 30 elephants to poaching. Whilst this is a shocking figure, let me assure you that we are using every measure, in conjunction with KWS teams operating in various ranches, to ensure that we have intensified security in terms of patrolling and monitoring.

I still admire our ‘no arms’ policy, since it serves to deter violent confrontation. I wish also to bring to your attention that elephant poaching is increasingly carried out using sophisticated weapons, as well as poisoned arrows. I kindly urge community members to share with us any information, however seemingly small, which they might have regarding the menace so that we can channel it into the relevant authorities, especially KWS.

I wish to honorably recognize all members of the community who have responded to our call to protect our wildlife and surrounding environment. As a result, we have witnessed a drastic reduction in charcoal burning, with the exception of a few ranches in the Project Area. Whilst some cases remain unreported, I would like to highlight that community feedback is happening more and more with assistance from the Wildlife Works community outreach team. I encourage all community members to help in the protection of the environment and wildlife, which is possible through our hotline: +254 (0) 727 957 482.

I would like to take this opportunity to salute all members of the community for their effort in helping us to achieve our goals. Conservation is for us all, it does not belong to only one party, and requires the involvement of everyone. Let us keep our heritage safe for the future; our beautiful environment is a valuable resource, which must be preserved.

I am also happy to report that we have increased our ranger force and now number approximately 120 wildlife rangers, all of whom are patrolling the project area on a daily basis. Around twelve of these are operating on the hills and land corridors. Three quarters of my ranger team are members of the community who were selected during the 2010/2011 recruitment exercise. I understand that not everyone who was present at this selection was recruited, and I would like to inform community members that there will be further opportunities for employment following the expansion of the carbon project. Being part of the ranger team is a highly sought after position however, and realistically we are not able to offer positions to all young applicants. Our recruitment process offers a fair way to select individuals who are suitable for this physically and psychologically demanding work.

Thank you all,

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A Grand Leap Forward for the Chyulu Hills Redd+ Project

Chyulu Hills REDD+ WIldlife Works Project

Wildlife Works has done it again! We completed yet another Project Design Document, for the new proposed REDD+ project in the Chyulu Hills!

The Chyulu Hills REDD+ Project (CHRP) is a multi-partner initiative designed to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, restore biodiversity and create alternative livelihoods under the United Nation scheme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It is located in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem, southeastern Kenya and stretches over an area of 410,533.84 ha. Its main geographic feature is the volcanic Chyulu Hills mountain range, from which the project derives its name.

Chyulu Hills

Chyulu Hills 

The Project Area comprises a great diversity of ecosystems, ranging from montane cloud forests to grassland savannah. A large variety of charismatic wildlife roams these landscapes, including populations of the increasingly threatened African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the critically endangered Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis). This wildlife has been living alongside traditional communities for generations. The Chyulu Hills also present a locally and regionally important water tower, which provides much of the surrounding landscape, as well as the coastal city of Mombasa, with a water source. This is just one example of the many ecosystem services the Chyulu Hill area performs.

black rhino

The black rhino, a critically endangered species, lives in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. Image captured by a camera trap from Big Life Foundation.

However, the area is under threat from being converted to a non-forest state due to unplanned agricultural expansion and unsustainable extractive practices such as charcoal burning and the collection of wood to make cultural artifacts. A major goal of the Project therefore, is to protect this vitally important ecosystem by providing economically viable and sustainable alternatives to its destruction.

The CHRP aims to generate benefits in the areas of climate, community and biodiversity under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards. Its specific climate related goals are to prevent the emission of 28,122,572 t CO2e over the project’s 30 year crediting period by stopping deforestation, forest degradation and grassland conversion. This will be achieved largely by employing forest rangers, bolstering employee motivation, creating alternative income and employment opportunities, and supporting stricter environmental law enforcement. Furthermore, it aspires to restore degraded forest and grassland areas, which will increase the quantity of sequestered carbon from woody biomass and soil. The establishment of tree nurseries, reforestation programs and other afforestation/reforestation (A/R) efforts are examples of some initiatives, which will be undertaken to this end.

Community outreach. Photo by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

Community outreach. Photo by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

The Project will also generate substantial community and biodiversity co-benefits. New and sustainable livelihood opportunities, such as direct employment, alternative income generating activities (IGAs) and initiatives to stimulate investment in businesses will be designed to reduce pressure on the environment while significantly increasing community well-being. Additional programs will address food security, improve health and education facilities, as well as raise environmental awareness. Biodiversity co-benefits will be achieved through greater protection of the ecosystem predominantly by means of increased security, improved monitoring and bolstering wildlife-compensation schemes.

Conservation education at Chyulu Hills.

Conservation education at Chyulu Hills.

The CHRP’s uniqueness lies in its eight constituent partners, each of which contributes specific and invaluable expertise. Whilst some partners have long-standing, ground-based operations within the landscape, other partners offer more technical, political and governance expertise. The eight constituent partners include: Big Life Foundation, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International and Wildlife Works. Together with the traditional landowners, this CHRP implementation team presents an exceptionally strong partnership, which will ensure the successful execution of the project’s objectives.

Wildlife Works completed the Project Design Document in June 2014, which is now open for public comments on the CCB website until 27th of July. All comments, positive remarks, constructive criticism or simply suggestions, are welcome.

Please visit: http://www.climate-standards.org/2014/06/25/chyulu-hills-redd-project/.

Wildlife Works Marks World Environmental Day With Town Clean Up and Climate Change Education

At this year’s World Environment Day, some of our employees at the Wildlife Works Kasigau base station put down their tools and left the offices to commemorate the day with the community at Kamtonga, a small village located in Mwatate about 50 kilometers from our station. Those who attended the event included the head community Relations Officer, Mr. Laurian Lenjo, Mrs. Emily Mwawasi and Joseph Mwakima (both working in community relations), and the agribusiness manager, Mr. George Maina.

kamtonga

Community members and pupils gather at the Kamtonga Primary School for commemoration of World Environment Day.

From the moment we arrived in Kamtonga, it was very clear that we could not have chosen a better place to commemorate the 2014 World Environment Day. The Mwatate community has been one of our major partners in the implementation of Phase II of the REDD programme, and we found an eager audience waiting to mark the day that was themed, Raise your Voices Not the Sea Levels. Young school pupils and aged grandparents sat side by side with the youth.

As with every other occasion we have to interact with the community around us, we took the opportunity to pass on the conservation message that we have been preaching since we started operations in the Kasigau region 17 years ago.  The theme for this event was to educate the audience about rising sea levels.

From the puzzled look on many faces, it was clear that not many had heard about the rising sea levels but when one of the speakers mentioned the possibility of Mombasa being submerged in the next 20 years, any lingering doubts started to vanish.

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Wildlife Works Rangers lead the procession to the communal cleaning of Kamtonga Primary School.

Joseph Mwakima gave a concise explanation of the rising sea levels phenomena to an audience that was very eager to listen. Laurian backed it up by explaining how everyone has a role to play in ensuring that we mitigate such an occurrence. Other speakers also echoed the same concerns.

Some of the other issues that were addressed at the event included the persistent issue of child labor in Kamtonga which draws the majority of its income from sisal farming, mining of precious stones and other supporting businesses. Pupils from the Kamtonga Primary School recited heartrending poems about how their peers are vulnerably recruited into the mines and sisal plantations and end up dropping out of school. Our community outreach team members have been doing in-school outreach campaigns to educate students on their rights. Several government administrators, including the town’s chief have made promises to crackdown on any businessperson who were found abusing children’s rights.

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School kids reciting a poem about the Child labour.

After these important discussions, everyone armed themselves with latex gloves and joined in a communal cleanup of the small Kamtonga town. Plastic bottles and bags that littered the town were collected for appropriate disposal.

The event hit a climax with the planting of more than 100 trees in Kamtonga Primary School. The Wildlife Works greenhouse supplied all the tree seedlings for free. 30 trees were planted by the various guests in attendance and assigned to pupils who will be taking care of them. 70 tree saplings were left to be planted by the pupils and teachers later on. We have already received confirmation from the headmaster that the remaining seventy trees have been planted and are thriving!

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Pupils of Kamtoga Primary School set a heap of plastic bags and other debris on fire.

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From left: Community Relations Manager Laurian Lenjo, Head Ranger Eric Sagwe and Community Relations Associate Joseph Mwakima join the community cleanup exercise at Kamtonga Town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are grateful for the Kamtonga Community for hosting us during this special day and for giving us an audience. If we can all take action now, we can effectively mitigate the effects of climate change. It all starts with you and me, and the Kamtonga community!

The chief with the school kids planting a tree around the school compound during the event.

The chief with the school kids planting a tree around the school compound during the event.

May Grace Kanini Wambua Rest in Peace

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Grace Kanini Wambua, who worked with us at the Wildlife Works factory for two years. We deeply appreciate the dedication she put into her work with our company and into the community’s commitment to conservation. Although she was young, she lived a full life and provided a good life to her two young daughters. The illness that took her life in just 2 months was not able to be diagnosed. Below is the eulogy that was presented at her funeral by Monica, one of our nursery school teachers. We send our blessings to her family.

* * * * * *

Grace Kanini Wambuaand daughter
A light has gone out, without so much as a flicker, and all we are left with is the precious memory of how brightly it burned and the warmth it gave us.

Grace’s appreciation of the simple uncomplicated things in life was reflected in her lifestyle. She was very simple and reserved.

Although Grace enjoyed a quiet life, which revolved mainly around her family and her work, it didn’t prevent her from living life to the fullest. She had always worked hard all her life, often more than one job at a time.

Grace was much more than a mother to her children. She was someone you could really trust and rely on, someone you could talk honestly and openly to, knowing you would be neither judged nor criticized, and you could count on her support whatever the problem.

Grace joined Wildlife Works Eco Factory on April 16th, 2012 as a machine operator. She specifically worked with the overlock and straight machines. She was very keen in her work making her the ideal person to work with us on our major client orders. Her contribution to Wildlife Works Eco Factory was magnificent and her time was very much appreciated, not only by the people she worked alongside, but the entire Wildlife Works family and her Maungu friends.

Grace became sick on April 7th, 2014. She complained of severe backpains which later affected her spine and soon her legs became paralyzed. She sought for medical care in Mombasa but her illness turned acute and she had to be transferred to Nairobi for special treatment. Grace succumbed to her illness in Bagadhi Hospital while undergoing treatment and passed on June 6th 2014 at 3pm. It surprised us to learn that she died on her birthday. She left behind two beautiful young girls.

Grace her daughter and Nora
We can’t even begin to imagine the grief and devastation that Grace’s family is bravely facing at the moment. It’s at such times when we are at our lowest ebb that we need the bosom of our family. We help and support each other and in time, the veil of mist and numbness gradually disappears. WE see a light at the end of the tunnel, we step out and we look back, thankful that despite their own grief and sorrow, we had someone to lean on when our own strength failed us. I know Grace would be very proud to see how her family are supporting each other at this very difficult time.

 

 

Grace will be greatly missed by everyone who knew and loved her.

Name. Grace Kanini. Job. Eco factory. IDno 13731654. EMPno WW04.45

Margaret Mschai Rises Above Life’s Challenges and Shares Her Future Aspirations

Margaret Mschai, a mother of two, makes her living by completing various tasks at the Wildlife Works eco-clothing factory, and is wholly grateful for it. Her tasks include trimming, folding and packaging the fabric and finished clothes.

“I love what I do mostly because it is an important part in the chain of events that creates unique outfits for export,” she says, adding, “We cannot all be machinists or designers. Someone has to trim the loose threads and fold the clothes so that they are presented neatly for the final consumer.” As Margaret never had the chance to continue her education past primary school, she was therefore unable to accomplish her dream of becoming a nurse. Like countless girls growing up in rural Kenya during the 1970s, Margaret’s parents did not see the need to educate a female child. Upon completion of her primary school education, she was left with the options to either get married or begin working to sustain her everyday needs.

In her free time at the factory, Margaret learns how to use the company's electronic sewing machines

In her free time at the factory, Margaret learns how to use the company’s electronic sewing machines

Against her parent’s wishes, Margaret chose to spend a term at the high school she had been admitted to. However, before she could take exams at the end of her term, she was sent back to her parents for money in order to pay her tuition fees. Sadly, she was unable to obtain the funds and was forced to leave school and abandon her hopes of becoming a nurse.

Unable to fulfill her ambitions, Margaret found herself moving from job to job until 2002 when she got news of the clothing factory near Maungu that was hiring.

“I had a strong conviction that this was the long-term opportunity I had been looking for when I heard about the Wildlife Works eco-clothing factory,” Margaret, who had learned a few basics of sewing through the years, recalled.

Unfortunately, the machines at Wildlife Works were electronic, as opposed to the manual ones she had been used to. Instead of the sewing job she had hoped for, Margaret was hired as a factory assistant. Among the first to be employed at Wildlife Works eco-factory, Margaret was unfortunately laid off in 2008 when the factory closed for a temporary three-year period.  She describes these years as the hardest period of her life.

Daniel Munyao, the factory manager, calls Margaret one of his most hardworking employees

Daniel Munyao, the factory manager, calls Margaret one of his most hardworking employees

In developed countries, laid off employees are typically able to find a new job and move on with their lives.  However, in a country like Kenya, where the unemployment rate has reached a staggering 40%, this is far from the reality. After the closing of the factory, Margaret learned first hand the hardships faced by those who have no job prospects in their area.

“I had a child to feed and no one was willing to employ somebody who had not gone past primary school- not even as a lowly paid house help,” she laments. Luckily for Margaret, her husband was employed elsewhere and so they were able to survive on the little that he earned.

Despite having never advanced past primary school, Margaret love sewing and hopes to one day be promoted to seamstress

Despite having never advanced past primary school, Margaret love sewing and hopes to one day be promoted to seamstress

Fortunately, Daniel Munyao, the factory manager at Wildlife Works, re-employed Margaret and others when the factory resumed production in 2010. According to Daniel, Margaret is one of the most hardworking employees at the factory. Even when there are no orders being processed, she spends her time learning how to operate the electronic sewing machines.

“I love sewing and I hope that I will one day get a promotion to become a seamstress,” Margaret says.

With what she earns as an employee of Wildlife Works, Margaret hopes to start her own local fashion shop, selling imported second-hand clothes.  Her enthusiasm is apparent as she speaks of her future ambitions.

While Margaret might not have completed her secondary school education, she has undoubtedly lived a life full of valuable lessons. One of these, which she would like to pass on, is to never give up on life, to learn to rise past your challenges and make the best out of every opportunity.

At Wildlife Works, we wish Margaret all the best for her employment, dreams and future aspirations.

Marie Stopes Brings Reproductive Health Services to Wildlife Works Employees

Marie Stopes Kenya, a non-governmental organization that conducts free family planning programs across the country, recently conducted a tremendously informative workshop at our community in Kasigau. More than 100 employees attended, 22 of which benefited directly from the free reproductive health services offered by MSK.

Wildlife Works employees at the family planning outreach workshop

Wildlife Works employees at the family planning outreach workshop

These reproductive health services, including family planning services and cervical cancer screenings, were entirely sponsored by Wildlife Works. Although made available by other members of the health industry, the cost of these services often prohibits employees from being able to take advantage of them.

Apart from the high costs associated with most family planning services, lack of information and access to birth control methods propagates a cycle of poverty for many communities across Kenya. This is especially evident among families in rural areas who are dependent on a declining agricultural livelihood and struggle to raise larger families. Wildlife Works was happy to invite Marie Stopes into our community to provide access to health education.

Employees who attended the reproductive health workshop waiting for their turn with the doctor

Employees who attended the reproductive health workshop waiting for their turn with the doctor

Lessons taught in the workshop included various long-term and short-term reproductive options available for both women and men.  For instance, the use of implants was particularly recommended as opposed to the use of injectables, as they contain less artificial hormones and carry far less side effects. Use of intrauterine devices was also discussed among the list of safe methods. For families searching for a permanent solution, health officials from Marie Stopes recommended the use of tubal ligation or a vasectomy. The training session was largely interactive and effective at diminishing some of the myths that surround family planning methods in Kenya.

One of the Marie Stopes outreach doctors standing next to the makeshift family planning clinic at Wildlife Works

One of the Marie Stopes outreach doctors standing next to the makeshift family planning clinic at Wildlife Works

Peninah Wavinya Kyonda, a single mother of 32 who works as a machinist in the Wildlife Works eco factory, considers the workshop an eye-opener in her quest for a safe and effective birth control method. “I have been thinking about family planning for a long time but doubts and fears of which family planning method is the safest to use always made me hesitate. I can now make an informed choice after the workshop conducted by Marie Stopes,” she said.

Peninah would also have liked to get screened for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there was insufficient cervical screening equipment on that day and only a few employees were able to get the free test. She hopes she will have a chance to get a test through Marie Stopes in the future.

Peninah Wavinya- one of the machinists at our eco factory

Peninah Wavinya- one of the machinists at our eco factory

Dr. Nickson Nyakundi, who was leading the Marie Stopes team, was impressed by attendance and declared the program an immense success. He also said that additional similar workshops are essential if the country is to realize Kenya’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include environmental sustainability, improved maternal healthcare, reduction of child mortality rates, achievement of universal primary education and eradication of extreme hunger and poverty.  Fortunately, Dr. Nickson Nyakundi assured us that the organization will be conducting a similar workshop in July.

Eco-Loans from the Zawadisha Fund to Boost Women Entrepreneurship in Kasigau Corridor

At Wildlife Works, we believe in empowering women to overcome societal limitations imposed on them by continuously supporting and investing in projects that enable women to make an independent livelihood.  We are proud to announce the inclusion of our newest partner in these efforts.

The Zawadisha Fund, a non-governmental and non-profit microfinance organization that provides affordable loan facilities to groups of women around Kenya, began work in the Marungu area of the Kasigau Corridor late last year and is already tremendously influencing the lives of marginalized women in the area.

Water tanks used to harvest rain water during the rainy season being transported to the Neema Women's group in Kasigau.

Water tanks used to harvest rain water during the rainy season being transported to the Neema Women’s group in Kasigau.

On their arrival to Marungu, leaders of the organization met with us to discuss the scope of their project in order to avoid overlapping and conflict of services. They also held meetings with women groups in the area to ruminate on what financial help they needed the most.

Monica Makori, one of our employees, welcomes the tanks at the Neema Women sGroup base

Monica Makori, one of our employees, welcomes the tanks at the Neema Womens Group base

As of now, Zawadisha is working with two women groups in the area, Neema and Tumaini. The two groups have already received eco-loans in the form of water tanks and solar lights.

“Traditionally we have provided loans for small businesses. However, it became clear after our visit in October to Marungu Town that what women needed and wanted was solar lamps and water tanks — that is what they asked for instead of loans for businesses,” says Jennifer Gurecki, who is the chief innovation officer at Zawadisha.

A smiling woman in the Kasigau Corridor

A smiling woman in the Kasigau Corridor

“By providing loans for items such as water tanks, we are helping women mitigate a changing climate in a sustainable way. Rather than drilling a well that will deplete aquifers over time, rain water catchment tanks are a sustainable way to obtain water – we are working with the environment rather than against it,” she added.

Where Neema Womens Group normally holds their meetings.

The entire Tumaini Womens Group poses for a group picture

Water captured in the water tanks will be sold to the community during droughts when all the water reservoirs have dried up in Kasigau. This will prevent members of the community from having to walk huge distances for access to clean water, both for domestic use as well as in their farms and to grow tree seedlings.

The structure where Neema Women's Group normally hold their meetings.

The structure where Neema Women’s Group normally hold their meetings.

As most in the region do not have cell phone charging capabilities in their homes, the solar lamps are significant to the community.  By using the enhanced solar lamps to charge phones for other members of the community for a small fee, the Tumaini Women Group will be generating income in one of the most ecological ways available- harnessing solar energy! These loans are highly viable to the women of Kasigau and it could prove to be a colossal step towards structuring a life of financial stability for their families.

A solar kit that Tumaini Women received from the Zawadisha Fund.

A solar kit that Tumaini Women received from the Zawadisha Fund.

According to Jennifer Gurecki providing loans to fund eco-friendly ventures is a break from the norm. Before they made their way to the Kasigau Corridor, the Zawadisha Fund had been providing small business loans to women groups in other parts of Kenya including Eldoret, Nairobi, Kilgoris and Kitale.

A lesson in self-defense: Zawadisha collaborats with Dolphin Anti-Rape and AIDS Control Outreach to teach the women of Kasigau some vital self-defense tactics

A lesson in self-defense: Zawadisha collaborats with Dolphin Anti-Rape and AIDS Control Outreach to teach the women of Kasigau some vital self-defense tactics

Apart from providing eco-loans to the two groups of women, Zawadisha has also been offering very lively and well-attended seminars and workshops that offer financial literacy and self-defense lessons to the women.

The Neema Women

The Neema Women

We feel honored to work in partnership with Zawadisha and support their funding of the eco-friendly projects of the two women groups. It gratifies us to see the women of Kasigau obtaining loans related to environmental conservation and we hope to continue working in close partnership with Zawadisha and the surrounding community. It is our joy to see the women of Kasigau empowered in ways that advance our environmental conservation ideologies.

Marasi Primary School Renovations

Many people in the Kasigau Corridor view Marasi Primary School as the symbolic center of Maungu, which is the town nearest to our Wildlife Works REDD Kasigau Headquarters. Many of our employees, including the Human Resources Manager, Laurian Lenjo, completed their primary education there.

Unfortunately, a visit to this school, started by parents in 1974, revealed crumbling roofs, peeling paint and door-less classrooms. Students who are fortunate enough to obtain a seat during class must sit at unstable desks that are shared with at least four others, while the remaining children sit on the dusty floor.

One of the renovated classrooms. There are two other blocks that still need renovation

One of the renovated classrooms. There are two other blocks that still need renovation

Several months ago, the school received critical funding through the sale of carbon credits generated through the Wildlife Works Kasigau REDD Project. Using these funds, the school was able to renovate four classrooms and will soon be purchasing desks as well.

Laurian Lenjo, the community relations officer at Wildlife Works, Rukinga, addressing wananchi during the official handover of the renovated classrooms at Marasi Primary School

Laurian Lenjo, the community relations officer at Wildlife Works, Rukinga, addressing wananchi during the official handover of the renovated classrooms at Marasi Primary School

The renovation included painting, floor reconstruction, and reroofing among other minor improvements. While this is a colossal step towards bringing the school to acceptable standards of learning, there are still areas of the school in extremely poor condition. Additionally, the classrooms are extremely overcrowded, with each one accommodating 65 children or more.

Mary Mbuga, the head of Marasi Primary School addressing pupils during the handover ceremony

Mary Mbuga, the head of Marasi Primary School addressing pupils during the handover ceremony

The school’s management team, led by Mary Mbuga, is confident that they will continue to benefit from the REDD Project and the sale of carbon credits by furthering improvements on the school infrastructure.

Nick and Gift, two  employees who supervised the renovation of the classrooms at Marasi Primary School

Nick and Gift, two employees who supervised the renovation of the classrooms at Marasi Primary School

Mrs. Mbuga envisions a bright future for the school and says that if possible, she would love to establish boarding facilities so that students are no longer required to make the long trek to and from school on a daily basis.

The block of classrooms at the Marasi Primary School before the renovation

The block of classrooms at the Marasi Primary School before the renovation

We are optimistic that the future sale of carbon credits in the Kasigau Corridor will enable Mrs. Mbuga and other community leaders to implement their projects to the fullest. We will continue to remain appreciative of the positive impacts carbon credits are bringing to the Kasigau Corridor communities.

Empowering School Girls in Kasigau Corridor to Remain in School

Lack of sanitary pads is a common concern for girls and women living in poverty-stricken backgrounds in developing nations. In dire circumstances, they are forced to improvise by using rags, tissue, leaves and other unhygienic materials.  This humiliating practice can also lead to serious infections.

Studies and research have also attributed the lack of sanitary towels as the main cause of school absenteeism for countless teenage girls in rural and poverty-stricken areas in Kenya. A recent collaborative study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), The Girl Child Network (GCN) and Human Relations Trust (HRT) shows that one in every ten girls in Africa misses school and eventually drops out altogether due to the shame and stigmatization they face from their peers regarding feminine issues.

Emily Mwawasi, Assistant Community Relations Officer with students from Itinyi Primary School and Marungu Secondary School

Emily Mwawasi, Assistant Community Relations Officer with students from Itinyi Primary School and Marungu Secondary School

In some parts of the Kasigau Corridor, the need for sanitary towels is responsible for increased cases of sexual exploitation and early marriages. Vulnerable young girls can be easily lured into sexual relationships with older men in exchange for money to purchase provisions for basic feminine needs.

In an attempt to solve this pressing issue, Monica Makori, a Wildlife Works employee, collaborated with the Community Relations department to empower girls in the community with the knowledge to create reusable and eco-friendly sanitary towels.

Monica Makori shows one of the students how to arrange materials for the eco-friendly sanitary pads

Monica Makori shows one of the students how to arrange materials for the eco-friendly sanitary pads

Monica’s efforts lead to the organization of Girl Child Day.  The event, in which girls from our school and from the neighboring Itinyi Primary School, congregate in the science laboratory at the secondary school for lessons, was meant to impart them with skills on how to make reusable eco-pads from cotton cloths. The eco pads are not only economical but also hygienically safe and may mean the difference between continuing with their schooling and dropping out at an early age.

The pads are made of organic cotton to ensure that they are absorbent enough, as well as soft and easy to clean. In between the cotton flannels lays a strip of polythene that safeguards against any accidental leakages resulting in pads that are functional with the added advantage of affordability.

Students who turned up for the first sanitary towel training at Marungu Secondary School

Students who turned up for the first sanitary towel training at Marungu Secondary School

Apart from learning how to make the reusable eco-pads, the girls were also taught how to treat them hygienically.

“The reusable pads need to be hand-washed in cold salty water or with soap if available, then dried in the sun for a day,” Monica said.

The knowledge obtained by the girls will hopefully go a long way in keeping them in school and from falling prey to sexual exploitation. “With the newly-acquired knowledge we hope that the young ladies will be able to safely keep in school and break the poverty cycle that currently beguiles many households around the Kasigau Corridor,” Emily pointed out.

A student from Itinyi Primary School posing with the sanitary towel that she knit

A student from Itinyi Primary School posing with the sanitary towel that she knit

On behalf of Wildlife Works and the Kasigau Corridor Community, our appreciation is with Monica and the Community Relations Department for organizing the opportunity to eliminate poverty and progress the social welfare of the communities around our project area. Over the coming months we hope to disseminate this knowledge to even more girls and women who will benefit from the team’s efforts.

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.