Category Archives: Community

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.

Farmers around the Kasigau Corridor Grow and Sell Seedlings to Wildlife Works

With global warming becoming a more imminent threat, trees and other vegetation remain among our best defense mechanisms.  Trees’ ability to absorb greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles, factories, and power plants result in a significant reduction in global climates.

As part of the Wildlife Works community empowerment programs, we encourage farmers around the Kasigau Corridor to grow and nurture seedlings, which are then sold to our greenhouse team at an average price of ten shillings (12 cents) per seedling. These are then brought back to the Wildlife Works greenhouse facility to be grown until they reach a suitable size for replanting.

Part of the tree seedlings that the WW greenhouse team purchased from the community

Part of the tree seedlings that the WW greenhouse team purchased from the community

This seedling collection happens at the end of most rainy seasons, when the greenhouse team travels to all areas that border our Carbon Project area to purchase the seedlings from farmers.  Led by greenhouse supervisor, Willy Kanyeki, the team hit the road in January and was able to purchase 25,000 tree seedlings valued at approximately $5,000 from 61 farmers around our project area.

Lush green and healthy saplings

Lush green and healthy saplings

“We receive the tree seedlings when most of them are in a very poorly state,” Willy Kanyeki explains. “The first thing we do when we receive the tree seedlings is replant them with soil that has been nourished with manure. We prune the roots of the seedlings that have overgrown roots and also recondition all the seedlings to adapt to the harsh climatic conditions experienced here.”

The WW greenhouse team inspecting tree saplings from the community

The WW greenhouse team inspecting tree saplings from the community

It is imperative that we collect seedlings from farmers during early stages, as this is when they are in critical need of large amounts of water that is not readily available to many farmers in the community. After the trees have been looked after for 9 to 10 months in the greenhouse, they are finally redistributed for free in schools, women’s groups, hospitals and to other interested members of the community for planting during the rainy season.

Farmers watch as the WW greenhouse team inspects the tree saplings available for purchase

Farmers watch as the WW greenhouse team inspects the tree saplings available for purchase

According to Kanyeki, the trees collected from the farmers indicate their full commitment to reforestation. “We have seen diversity in the species of saplings that the farmers invested in this time round. Most of the trees are the beautiful kind that have a bigger shade, and we believe that when we redistribute them for planting, the shade factor will motivate the caretakers to nurture them to maturity,” he says.

Everyone has a role to play in conserving the environment. These young children are helping their parents assemble seedlings

Everyone has a role to play in conserving the environment. These young children are helping their parents assemble seedlings

In a region as arid as the Kasigau Corridor, reforestation is having an increasingly positive impact on the community.  The trees provide shade and cool the high temperatures in homes as well as preventing soil erosion from strong winds. Our process of buying tree seedlings, nurturing them, and dispersing them out for replanting, not only provides families around our project area with a supplementary source of income every year, but is also a vital aspect of Wildlife Works’ reforestation efforts.

The greenhouse team loads tree saplings on the truck that was used to transport them to the base station at Rukinga.

The greenhouse team loads tree saplings on the truck that was used to transport them to the base station at Rukinga.

 

 

 

Marking Milestones, The First Students of Wildlife Works Graduate

The first Wildlife Works Nursery School graduation ceremony was a joyful occasion filled with dance and song along with awards to recognize the student’s achievements.  Parents and teachers, among others, used the opportunity to express their gratitude for the nursery school at Wildlife Works.

Dressed in navy blue gowns, which had been tailored at the local Wildlife Works clothing factory, the graduating students recited classroom songs while guests took the time to reflect on what the Wildlife Works Nursery School means to them.

A graduating student receives a certificate

A graduating student receives a certificate

Daniel Munyao, who is the Manager at the Wildlife Works eco-factory, where most of the pupils’ parents work, highlighted the crucial role that the nursery school has played in the running of his business.

“Before we started the nursery school, we had absenteeism issues with some of the employees who had to take days off to take their children for immunization or to attend parent-teacher meetings in other schools. This problem has mostly been solved since the inception of the nursery,” he said.

A member of Wildlife Works' Nursery School's first graduating class

A member of Wildlife Works’ Nursery School’s first graduating class

Now teachers at the school ensure that the children are taken for immunization as well as arranging discussions with the parents of those who may be having problems in class. This translates to more work hours and better coordination at the factory.

The two teachers, Madam Colleta Nthenya and Miss. Monica Nchekei, also expressed their appreciation for the nursery school.

Students pose in their navy cap and gowns tailored at Wildlife Works' very own clothing factory

Students pose in their navy cap and gowns tailored at Wildlife Works’ very own clothing factory

“I got myself a job when the nursery school started,” stated Madam Colleta. Her sentiments were echoed by Monica Nchekei who wished to thank the management of Wildlife Works for coming up with ‘such a brilliant idea’.

Colleta and Monica have been crucial in ensuring the success of the school, as they’ve worked diligently to ensure young students are cared for and educated to the national standard.

Apart from serving as a low-cost academic institution for our Wildlife Works staff, the nursery school is also a daycare center for the young children.

The first graduating class of Wildlife Works' Nursery School

The first graduating class of Wildlife Works’ Nursery School

“We cannot express our gratitude strongly enough,” one of the parents at the graduation stated. “The nursery school has been a life saver for most of us. It has taken away the need to employ house helps and we do not have to worry that our kids will be sent home due to school fees in arrears,” she added.

As with most other community events and projects, these achievements were made possible through the protection of our environment from degradation and deforestation.  We would like to wish all graduated students of the Wildlife Works nursery school success in the next steps of their education.

 

 

The Efficiency of Carbon Credits: Wildlife Works’ REDD Project Gives Hope to Families in Kasigau

Only someone who has never witnessed first-hand the plight of a developing nation would dispute the effectiveness of carbon credits. According to a report by the UN-REDD Programme, deforestation and degradation of forestlands account for more than 20% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the transport sector. Forest communities that lack an alternative source of income are forced to decimate the surrounding environment and wildlife to make a living. But what if they were empowered to conserve forests instead of destroy them?

Community members fetching water from the Sasenyi Rock Catchment after the official opening of the rock catchment

Community members fetching water from the Sasenyi Rock Catchment after its official opening

The Wildlife Works REDD+ Carbon Project in Kasigau, Kenya, exemplifies the role that carbon credits play in combating global warming and ensuring a safer existence for humans, wildlife, and the land that they both inhabit.

A view of Mt. Kasigau which is the main landmark feature in our REDD Project Area

The Sasenyi Rock Catchment

A view of Mt. Kasigau which is the main landmark feature in our REDD Project Area

A view of Mt. Kasigau, the main landmark in our REDD Project Area

Wildlife Works protects over 500,000 acres of forested land in the Kasigau Corridor. If left unprotected, this region would become deforested in less than 30 years. Prior to Wildlife Works’ presence in the area, the community relied heavily on unsustainable exploitation of the land for its livelihood. Logging, charcoal burning and clearing of forestland for tilling were common practice. With the emergence of WW and the subsequent placement of a majority of the property under the Wildlife Works Carbon Trust, the community has continued to reap benefits from their land in a more profitable and sustainable manner.

 Laurian Lenjo, the Community Relations Officer with members of community during the official opening of the Ngangu Water Project in Mwatate Location

Laurian Lenjo, the Community Relations Officer, with community members during the official opening of the Ngangu Water Project in Mwatate

One of the longest surviving chiefs in the area, Pascal Kizaka, claims that the Wildlife Works REDD Project has played a major role in the survival of forests around the Kasigau Corridor.

“I am a first-hand witness of the benefits that placing our land under the REDD+ Project has brought my community. Our children are going to schools built from carbon credits, our women are fetching water from water tanks funded through the sale of carbon credits and our older sons and daughters have been employed by the organization,” Chief Kizaka says.

Girls from Kajire Secondary School Performing a traditional folk song during the official opening of Mchang’a Preschool in Sagalla location

Girls from Kajire Secondary School Performing a traditional folk song during the official opening of Mchang’a Preschool in Sagalla

Thanks to carbon credits, the Kasigau Community has become a model of accomplishment, not only to the threatened landscape in Africa but also to the rare wildlife that inhabits it. The project effectively secures a migration corridor for wildlife roaming between the Tsavo East and the Tsavo West National Park.

The Makwasinyi Water Tank in Kasigau Location

The Makwasinyi Water Tank in Kasigau

Laurian Lenjo and Joseph Mwakima handing a school fees cheque to a pupil and his parent in Mackinnon Location

Laurian Lenjo and Joseph Mwakima handing a school fees check to a pupil and parent in Mackinnon

A third of all the proceeds from the sale of carbon credits harvested in the project area directly benefit the community, which decides how the proceeds will be used. They invest in community infrastructure such as building of schools, hospitals, water tanks and allocation of scholarships to disadvantaged children in the community.

In the past year alone, the community has used proceeds from carbon credits to fund more than 1,000 students to pursue secondary and post-secondary education, construct classrooms in more than 10 schools and develop other community projects.

Additionally, the Wildlife Works REDD Project provides both direct and indirect employment to the community, thus helping to alleviate the main cause of forest degradation: poverty. Young adults around the project area have been employed as wildlife rangers, agriculturalists, seamstresses, and drivers and in various other activities in and around the project area.

Pupils at Mwakasinyi Primary School reading in a classroom constructed through funding from the sale of carbon credits

Pupils at Mwakasinyi Primary School reading in a classroom constructed through funding from the sale of carbon credits

The United Nations Environmental Programme REDD team recently came to Wildlife Works for a site visit and left us with these encouraging words:

“The work that you are doing is pioneering and very impressive in terms of its impact on local communities and conservation. The visit has provided a useful ‘reality check’ for our work, and provided our team with new motivation to further consolidate the business case for REDD+ at global and national level; to enhance private sector engagement; and to advise countries on social and environmental safeguards, and on the multiple benefits to be derived from successful REDD+ implementation.”

Tim Christophersen,  Senior Programme Officer, Forests and Climate Change at UNEP

By shifting focus from the carbon perspective and taking a closer look at empowering communities through the UN-REDD Programme, REDD+ and other similar programs, we can begin to appreciate why carbon offsetting is one of the most effective methods to combat global warming.

 

Brown Kimonge Makes a Living from Screen Printing

Brown Kimonge, father of five and screen printer at the Wildlife Works screen printing facility, is the subject of our latest who’s who post.

“I started work at Wildlife Works in January 2012,” Brown recalls.

Born into a polygamous family in 1962, Brown was the fourth of twelve children. For as long as he’s able to recall, life has been a consistent struggle for survival. Like most children in rural Kenya, Brown walked to school barefoot and undertook menial jobs, including fishing at the local dam, to supplement his family’s income.

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Brown using the screen printer

Fortunately, Brown was able to progress up to his ‘O’ levels (standardized tests for high school-aged students) and did his certification exams at Waa Secondary School. Upon completion, Brown was offered an apprenticeship at his older brother’s screen printing firm at Huruma estate in Nairobi.

Brown says, “screen printing is my entire life,”  and indeed, since the time he set foot in his brother’s firm about 30 years ago, Brown has maintained his livelihood by working as a printer in various facilities.

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Brown with his co-workers

During Brown’s time in Nairobi, his homeland of Taita was in the process of change as Wildlife Works had established a screen printing department.  The facility provided jobs to the local community and drew others who, like Brown, were looking for work.  After an interview in November 2011, Brown was admitted into the Wildlife Works taskforce as a screen printer in January of the following year.

Brown’s job at the company involves printing labels and graphics on garments for clients. He is assisted by a team of three other workers; Peter Syala is the company’s color mixer, Mike Mwandisha handles embroidery, while Alan assists with various other tasks in the printing facility.

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Brown has always been fascinated by screen printing

Brown views his career journey as a childhood dream culminating into reality, as he had always been fascinated by how text and graphics ended up on t-shirts.

Watching Brown on the manual press, his bifocal glasses used to observe every detail, there is little doubt as to his level of professionalism. He hopes in the future that the company will expand its customer base to create even more work for him and his team.

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Brown is a pro at using the printing machine

As he works to provide for his wife and five children, Brown hopes to add more skills to his repetoir.  In the future, he plans to register for computer and driving courses.  But for now, he enjoys watching the successes of his children, especially his older two, who have both completed their “O” level studies, and will soon attend college.

African Wild Dogs in Rukinga

To effectively protect the wildlife in our project area, the Wildlife Works biodiversity monitoring team and rangers employ several strategies to ensure all species present are safely maintained and to record data for referencing purposes. Some ways used to monitor the wildlife include ranger patrols, road transects and camera traps, which are set by the biodiversity team.

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Den of African Wild dogs at Rukinga Ranch

A lion approaches the den of the pups

A lion approaches the den of the pups

Wildlife Works rangers, on the other hand, document data of the wildlife they encounter on the ranches whilst on security patrols. Combined, these methods of supervising the wellbeing of our wildlife, has proven effective at uncovering important information on some of the most rare wildlife in the world.

Recently, one of the cameras set by the biodiversity monitoring team captured remarkable images of a pack of 10 African Wild Dogs, eight of which were puppies. This was the fifth time that African Wild Dogs have been spotted in our project area in the span of a year.

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African Wild Dog pups

The international Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Wild Dog as an endangered species and the sighting of a den in Rukinga is very advantageous to our conservation efforts. It is estimated that the global population of the African Wild Dog is around 6,600 dispersed over 39 subpopulations, with anywhere from 6 to 276 wild dogs in each subpopulation. Other reports of the African Wild Dog in Kenya have been made in Laikipia and Maasai Mara.

A lion approaches the den at night

A lion approaches the den at night

Infectious diseases, habitat fragmentation, accidental killing by snares set by small game poachers, natural predators and conflict with human activities form the majority of threats on this rare population. Wildlife Works, in conjunction with the local community, hopes to conserve the species in our project area from deprivation. To achieve this, we provide the local community with sustainable and alternative sources of income, which keeps humans from encroaching on the wildlife sanctuaries.

With the support from all our stakeholders, we strive to protect the species of African Wild Dogs as well as all other wildlife that inhabit the Kasigau Corridor.

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Wild Dog and pups outside their den

Kileva uses carbon credits to construct new classroom

Kileva Eastfield Primary School is thrilled to announce the construction of its new classroom, thanks to proceeds from their conservation efforts.  The stone and iron structure is able to accommodate 40 students, and was built using funds from the sale of carbon credits in the Kasigau REDD+ Project.

The new construction is especially welcomed by school-going children, who previously walked up to 6 km to access neighboring primary schools.  This long trek was through wildlife-dense landscape and made even more treacherous by the early morning hours in which the children were traveling.  Apart from being dangerous for pupils, the frequent journey between villages was a source of constant conflict between humans and wildlife.

The foundation of the Kileva primary school at Sagalla

The foundation of the Kileva primary school at Sagalla

According to Johnstone Mwamondo, a manager at the Sagalla Conservation and Development Forum, the construction of the classroom is a major step towards the completion of the school as a whole, which currently admits students up to Standard Six (equivalent to 6th grade in the US).

“We, the people of Kileva, are proud of the achievement.  It is through hard work conserving forests that the new classroom has been constructed.  We trust that through continued conservation of our forested areas, we will be able to implement even more projects like this,” says Mr. Mwamondo.

More progress on the Kileva school

More progress on the Kileva school

The Kileva community borders Sagalla and Mgeno Ranches, which the community works to protect from deforestation and degradation under the REDD+ Project.  This is a bold, but vital, step for a community that has been extremely reliant on the surrounding land for its livelihood.  Upon the realization that their activities on the land were both illegal and unsustainable, the community agreed to join Wildlife Works and help with their conservation efforts.

After two years of being part of the REDD+ Project, the community knows first hand the benefits of conservation.  Apart from the Kileva Eastfield Primary School, there have been several other projects launched and completed in the greater Sagalla area, such as the construction of classrooms in several other schools including Kajire Secondary School, Mwambiti Primary School, and Mchange Pre-school.

The finished school in Kileva

The finished school in Kileva

Furthermore, after receiving payments from the selling of carbon credits, a community based organization and locational carbon committee agreed to set aside more than $11,000 for the construction of classrooms at the aforementioned schools.  They were also able to disburse scholarships to the most vulnerable children in the community through Wildlife Works Carbon Trust Fund.  So far, more than 610 students have received scholarships covering part of school tuition and 9 have received full scholarships.  In total, the community has spent $53,658 on scholarships and sponsorship.

Kileva primary school

Kileva primary school

There is no doubt that Kileva has a bright future, thanks to their decision to to enrich the land around them.  Their children have a better chance at education, and their community is more sustainable.  We hope our legacy can continue in more African communities so there can be more emphasis on conservation and making Kenya a better place for future generations.

Welcoming Mai Ndombe in the DRC to the Wildlife Works REDD+ Portfolio

As the largest Sub-Saharan country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has a vast array of environments, peoples, wildlife, and politics. The province of Bandundu, located on the west of the country, is the most densely forested province and is highly coveted by the lumber industry.  It is currently home to many animal species such as man’s closest relative (and cousin to the Chimpanzee), the endangered Bonobo.

Photo by realanimalslife.com

A Bonobo. Photo by realanimalslife.com

The region is also home to many other animals such as forest elephants and leopards, as well as an abundance of diverse and rare native plant species.  These animals and forests, not to mention the local peoples, are under threat due to the increasing demand for high valued timber from the lumber industry, and their unsustainable forest practices.

Photo by end-newswire.com

Wenge Tree. Photo by end-newswire.com

Logging companies desire this area largely due to its high density of Wenge trees – a highly valuable and beautiful tree – where in the Mai Ndombe region it is the most abundant in all of central Africa. Following logging, a cascade of events ultimately leading to deforestation, threatens this region as it has affected so many others in DR Congo.  Compounded by intensive and unsustainable hunting, agriculture, and other pressures on the land, the area is in need of protection.

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Kids playing in the water at Bosongo Village in the project area

Thankfully for both the environment and the people of the area, Wildlife Works has acquired the “exploitation rights” (including the rights to the carbon), of two large logging concessions in the province adjacent to Lac Mai Ndombe.  Instead of being logged, Wildlife Works has created a “conservation covenant” on the concessions totaling nearly 300,000ha of forest land. This is a little larger than the size of Luxembourg.

The area is now protected for the duration of the 30-Year carbon project. Historically this area has been a habitat for an array of forest types, plant species, animals and habitats. It is also home to over 30,000 Congolese who work hard to survive their version of the difficult African lifestyle.

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One of the two schools the project has built located in the village of Lokanga.The chief of the village stands at the center of the photo.

In December of 2012 the project was awarded the first ever CCBA and VCS accreditation in DR Congo. Wildlife Works began selling offsets which will fund the further development of many activities for forest protection and betterment of livelihoods in the project and surrounding areas.  The project has already accomplished many things in a short time including the construction of two schools, the implementation of a mobile medical clinic, distributed school supplies, and established several agroforestry sites and demonstration gardens to help diversify and improve nutrition in the area.

A young lucena for agroforestry plots

A young lucena for agroforestry plots

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new Wildlife Works Carbon initiative.

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.