Category Archives: Health

Can Carbon Credits and Communities Help Save the Planet?

Every 3 months, women from the community gather for Women Empowerment Trainings. Together, they learn about finance, health, and the environment. Then, they bring this information back to their villages to teach others.

This quarter, the training was held in Mwatate, 42 kms northwest of Maungu where Wildlife Works operates. Fifty women leaders from all over Taita Taveta County are learning to write proposals, how to cope with climate change (the area has been affected by drought for over 18 months), and keeping healthy. Their colorful dress and personalities stand out against the red hills characteristic of the area.


Community-Based Conservation In Action

The people in charge of today’s meeting are the Community Based Organization (CBO) Board Members and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) volunteers. The CBO board arranges activities and training for the six community areas adjacent to Wildlife Work’s conservation area. The idea is to give locals access to sources of income that minimize environmental harm, discouraging the hard labor job of charcoal burning and destructive subsistence poaching.

Faraji Mwakitau is the Taita Taveta CBO Chairman. He has worked with the organization since its inception for 6 years. He said his interest in this project stems from his belief that the land is important.

“Usually we see the forest as useless,” explains Faraji, “but in the dry forest, you find these hard trees that absorb more carbon than other trees.”

He said that the government and people think the dry land doesn’t require any management, but he argued that it does. Faraji says it’s important to protect the land from overgrazing and the drought.

“Elephants are our heritage. They are part of humankind,” said Faraji. “If we do not protect them, humankind will be entirely alone.”


Education As the Solution

Many of the women who sit in this room, learning how plastic is harmful to the environment and how excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has caused a shift in global weather patterns, once practiced charcoal burning. This is the practice of cutting down trees and burning them in a pit overnight to turn them into charcoal pieces that can be used for cooking.

Now, these women have received education and training on applying for grants, finance, opening a business, and understand how cutting down trees for charcoal harms the environment. Making baskets and clothing, running small hotels – these are just some of the new jobs these women have because of loans and support from Wildlife Works.

Trainings like these are held anywhere from month to quarterly, demanding on availability. While at these training days, women are given chai, bread, lunch, and clean drinking water provided by Wildlife Works. They also provide all funding for running projects in local communities, such as installing clean drinking water, renovating schools, and cleaning up the communities. All of this work is done in support by the purchase of carbon credits.


Empowering young girls through GLOW training

Wildlife Works is committed to supporting community projects as we feel these can be the most important tools to developing self-sufficient and self-governing communities. One of our main focuses is on education, especially for women and girls.

This past weekend, a sexual health and sanitation session for young girls at Kiteghe Primary School within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area in southeastern Kenya was funded through Wildlife Works. This program is called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and is run by Monica, a local Kenyan lady who volunteers her Saturdays to run this training session in local primary and secondary schools across Taita Taveta County.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-41-amMonica writes essential goals for girls attending the training

50 girls over the age of 12 attended the event. Each girl was selected to serve as a peer educator to pass along the teachings to two others in the school. The session was held on a Saturday morning and the girls showed up eager to learn. The day started with a review of issues that were important to know, from child pornography and prostitution to female genital mutilation and incest. The girls scribbled feverously in their notebooks as soon as they were given a new concept and asked questions and voiced their concerns.

Oohs and ahhs and quick inhales of breath could be heard throughout as the girls learned terms that were often harsh and scary. A common theme was the concept that girls should avoid relations with boys so as to fully focus on their studies. Currently at Kiteghe Primary School, five girls from the school are pregnant. Once they have their children, it is unlikely these girls will resume normal studies.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-50-am50 girls above the age of 12 attended the training

After the morning session, two of the seminar leaders, Monica and Happiness, began a discussion of sanitation in which they showed the girls how to properly clean themselves. Amid some giggles and laughter, the instructors demonstrated how to insert a sanitary pad into a pair of underwear. This demonstration was very important in expressing to the girls the normality of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and aimed to reduce the stigma associated with it.

In Africa, the biggest cause of absenteeism from school for girls is due to girls being on their period. Seminars like these are important in educating young women and giving them the tools they need to attend school all month long.

One of the main events of the day was a lesson on how to make your own reusable sanitary pad by sewing together pieces of towel, cut outs from plastic bags and cotton scraps (provided from our eco-factory, thereby reducing waste and becoming something useful!). Using a needle and thread, each girl sewed her own pad, which for many was her first one. The design is one used by Wildlife Works and other organizations that has proven to be successful in serving as a pad that can be cleaned and reused.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-58-amOne girl completes her handmade, reusable pad

After creating their own sanitary pad, the girls were given a gift of two pairs of underwear that had been donated through Wildlife Works to be distributed at the seminar. It was great to be able to show these young girls how to manage their period through creating their very own sanitary pads using commonly found materials.

This program is one of several here in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area that works to enable girls to take charge of their own lives and education. Next year, Monica and the other instructors are hoping to expand the program to boys.

These sessions are largely funded by donations to Wildlife Works. Please get in touch with our Conservation Office Manager, Cara Braund at if you are interested in contributing to a similar girls or boys seminar.

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


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


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

Changing Kenya’s Landscape for Wildlife and Jobseekers

Changing Kenya’s Landscape for Wildlife and Jobseekers

Published in the The Opinion Pages on NY Times

By Amy Yee

JUNE 8, 2016 RUKINGA SANCTUARY, Kenya — Twenty years ago, this wildlife corridor in southern Kenya was in jeopardy. A scarcity of jobs in this impoverished, arid landscape meant people were hunting wild giraffe and antelope for meat, and chopping down trees to make charcoal. With fewer trees, desertification loomed. Water was so precious that local cattle herders lit fires at water holes to keep giraffes and zebras from drinking.

The animals had less vegetation to eat and less forest cover. Cutting down trees combined with poaching decimated wildlife in this 500,000-acre swath of the Kasigau migration corridor, which bisects Tsavo, Kenya’s largest national park. Tsavo, roughly the size of Wales, is home to half the country’s estimated 25,000 elephants.

Mercy Ngaruiya, known as Mama Mercy, is a community leader in the village of Itinyi. “People used to come with buckets of meat,” she said. “Everyone was killing animals. People were cutting trees for charcoal. They said, ‘What else are we going to do for money?’”

Against the odds, things have changed. Illegal tree cutting and poaching have fallen significantly. Previously, rangers from Wildlife Works, the local conservation group that initiated the shift, would find 8,000 wire snares in a year. Last year they found fewer than 300.

In 1998 there were no elephants on the 75,000 acres of Rukinga Sanctuary where Wildlife Works is based, said Rob Dodson, vice president of African operations. Now wildlife has returned. One recent evening, a herd of elephants, including babies, gathered at a water hole during a tranquil sunset. As many as 2,000 elephants live in the corridor, depending on the season; so do zebra, giraffe, buffalo, warthogs and several kinds of antelope, from slender dik-diks to impala. Lions had vanished from the area; now there are about 40, including two males seen lounging by a water hole on a hot Friday afternoon.

Illegal activities haven’t been wiped out. In January, seven elephants were poached for ivory. Every week rangers catch people burning trees to produce charcoal. But forest and wildlife in the Kasigau Corridor have been visibly revitalized by conservation efforts. And poaching has dropped. In the last few years, Wildlife Works hired more unarmed local rangers to supplement the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and in 2014 Kenya toughened its poaching laws. Seventy-six elephants were killed for ivory in the area in 2012, in contrast to 21 last year.

The key to preserving wildlife here is human relationships. Impoverished locals need alternatives to poaching and burning. So Wildlife Works has created hundreds of new jobs, including increasing the number of its rangers sevenfold to 85 in the past few years. (Many are former charcoal burners and poachers themselves.) Critically, this expansion won support for conservation from local elders and villagers, and the organization is now their county’s third-largest employer.

This community development work got a much-needed financial lifeline when Wildlife Works started the world’s first REDD+ project in 2011. REDD+, which stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation,” is an international system to combat climate change by preserving forests. It essentially pays communities in poor countries not to cut down trees.

Three United Nations agencies laid the groundwork for REDD+ in 2008. Gas-guzzling cars are commonly associated with global warming. But deforestation — cutting down trees and releasing the carbon stored in them — contributes 17 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, more than the global transportation industry.

Preserving this swath of forest in the Kasigau Corridor avoids emitting more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year for the next 30 years.

Since 2011, Wildlife Works has sold carbon credits and earned millions of dollars shared by landowners, investors, Wildlife Works and the local community. Money for the community finances schools, scholarships, water pipes, reservoirs and other public works that serve 150,000 people. The support was critical for getting the local community to support conservation.

“Now if someone cuts down trees or kills animals, people will report them,” said Mama Mercy.

REDD+ was controversial when it introduced nearly a decade ago. Critics feared fraud, and that the developed world would use carbon credits as an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels instead of curbing them. Supporters said poor countries needed financial incentives to preserve forests rather than cutting them down for fuel, farming and grazing.

At first, locals were also skeptical. Mama Mercy recalled that when people first heard about REDD+ they said, “‘How do we get money from trees? The air? These people are cheating us.’ It was really complicated.”

Educating locals about REDD+ and getting them on board was essential, because REDD+ uses international social auditors to enforce a requirement for informed consent from communities.

From 2009 to 2011, Wildlife Works’ team of local Kenyans met with about 60 elders, chiefs and heads of community councils to explain how the complex project works.

“They thought people were coming to get their land,” said Pascal Kizaka, a retired local chief. “We had to go and talk to them and preach. It took a year and a half to make the people understand.”

Although several tribes live in the area, Swahili is commonly spoken, so language was not a hurdle. Local leaders eventually gave consent to sell carbon credits on behalf of the community.

“People were so desperate,” said Dodson, of Wildife Works. “They had nothing to lose. They said, ‘It sounds mad, but let’s give it a go.’”

The forest was assessed by teams that measured trees in 480 sample plots across Kasigau Corridor. Independent environmental consultants from the United States used analytical software involving 60 algorithms to determine the amount of carbon in the forest.

Results were verified by the environmental audit firms Verified Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, both based in Washington. The latter’s social audit includes weeks of meeting with local councils and questioning them independently.

nytimes, amy yee, redd, redd+, climate change, wildlife conservation, forestry conservation

In the early days, critics feared that “carbon credit cowboys” would displace or exploit locals and pocket profits. But setting up and verifying REDD+ is too complicated, expensive and stringent for speculators to make easy money. Rolling out REDD+ cost Wildlife Works about $4 million, each audit costs about $70,000, and verification requires evidence that REDD+ has benefited the community and environment.

The biggest pitfall is managing a multiparty project and building consensus among many community councils. “It’s easy to fail an audit. Getting back on your feet if a project fails is tough,” said Dodson. “Organizationally, it is fraught with danger.”

When Wildlife Works’ REDD+ project was verified, credits were sold on Markit, a London-based financial trading platform. The companies and other organizations that have purchased credits to offset their carbon emissions or fulfill corporate social responsibility policies have included Barclays, BNP Paribas, Allianz, the French postal service La Poste, and Kering, the holding company for Gucci, Saint Laurent and other luxury brands.

Wildlife Works sold $3 million worth of carbon credits in 2012, $2.5 million worth in 2013, and more than $5 million in 2014.

Carbon credit revenues are divided up with one-third going to landowners, roughly another third to Wildlife Works’ projects in Kenya, and the rest divided among the community and Wildlife Works in the United States, including its investors.

Community councils most commonly decide to use their shares for clean water projects or schools.

“People used to go long distances to get water, six kilometers or more,” said 24-year-old Zahira Kastoka, who grew up in Itinyi. Now there are water storage tanks near her home.

“REDD has changed things in so many ways,” she said. Kastoka got a high school scholarship through Wildlife Works, where she now works as an office administrator. Without the grant, her single mother could not have afforded school fees; Kastoka’s older sister had to drop out after fourth grade.

In 1998, few local youths were enrolled in college or in other tertiary institutions; now hundreds are. Over the years, more than 3,200 students have been awarded some $260,000 in high school and higher education scholarships.

For example, Mwolo Muasa, who grew up near Wildlife Works, had to drop out of school after his mother died when he was 10. But a few years later, he got a Wildlife Works scholarship, without which, he says, “I would have ended up a street kid.” Now 29, he helps lead Wildlife Works’ forest plot sampling, having studied environmental science at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.

Carbon credits have also financed precious new jobs. Before REDD, Wildlife Works had 65 employees in 2010. Now it has more than 300 who work in a small garment workshop, greenhouse and tourist lodge and as rangers, mechanics and office staff members. Before carbon credits there were 12 rangers hired from local villages; now the 85-strong force patrols a much larger area.

Wildlife Works was founded in 1997 by Mike Korchinsky, a California-based entrepreneur. While on vacation to Kenya that year, he noticed armed guards aggressively separating wildlife and local people. To create jobs and support the community, he established Rukinga Sanctuary and set up a tourist lodge and clothing workshop with a few employees. Keeping the businesses afloat was difficult.

In 2009, Korchinsky read a magazine article about REDD+ and wondered if Wildlife Works could sell carbon credits. At the time, there was no method with which to measure the carbon in Kasigau’s shrubby drylands forest. So Wildlife Works hired independent environmental consultants to design one.

One challenge today is planning for the future and managing expectations if carbon credit sales slump. In 2015, sales of Wildlife Works’ carbon credits fell to about half that of the previous year. Hesitant buyers were awaiting the outcome of the United Nations’ climate change summit meeting in December.

As a result, there were fewer scholarships. “Some people had to drop out of school,” said Mama Mercy. “Some girls married early. Parents want to educate children but there’s no work.”

“Last year was difficult,” she continued. “We hope this year won’t be the same.”

REDD+ agreements span only 30 years, so it’s uncertain what will happen when the contract expires. Dodson hopes that by then there will be enough economic development and jobs to sustain the community and preserve the forest and wildlife.

Ivo Mulder, the REDD+ green economy adviser for the United Nations Environment Program, said large-scale national initiatives that span entire counties or provinces and better control deforestation are a model for the future.

Worldwide, there are many REDD+ projects. However, the carbon credit market is limited and there are not enough buyers driven by corporate social responsibility. An oversupply of voluntary credits “reduces prices and makes it difficult to make REDD+ projects financially viable,” said Mulder.

Selling carbon credits from large government-backed REDD+ projects to other governments can make a bigger dent in combating global deforestation, though they are complicated to set up.

Nevertheless, the market for carbon credits could grow after 2020, when countries that signed the climate agreement in Paris last December must start reducing emissions. That pact recognizes REDD+ as one way to do that.

Back on the ground in the Kasigau Corridor, this environmental framework has already changed the landscape for flora, fauna and humans alike.

Kizaka, the retired local chief, recalled that big trees sheltering wildlife and cattle were being destroyed every day for charcoal. But now, he said: “If we show you photos before the carbon project and the present situation, the vegetation has changed. It has blossomed.”

From beneath the acacias in the Kenyan bush, one can still see the forest for the trees.

Amy Yee (@amyyeewrites), is a former correspondent for The Financial Times who has written for The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

© 2016 The New York Times Company

Wildlife Works Speaks at World Menstrual Hygiene Day

‘Menstruation matters to everyone, everywhere’ was the slogan for the 2016 celebration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, held each year on the 28th May. It is aimed at breaking taboos and raising awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management for women and adolescent girls worldwide.

Lack of sanitary pads is a common concern for girls and women living in poverty in developing nations. In dire circumstances, they are forced to improvise by using rags, tissue, leaves and other unhygienic materials, or vulnerable girls are conned into sexual relationships in exchange for feminine hygiene products. These humiliating practices can lead to infections and unwanted pregnancy.

Research has also shown that a lack of sanitary pads is the main cause of school absenteeism for teenage girls in rural, poor areas in Kenya. A 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.

world menstrual day, women's hygiene, kenya, women's health‘Menstruation matters to everyone, everywhere’, World Menstrual Hygiene Day flyer


Msharinyi Primary School was the venue of the celebrations this year in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, and was attended by three school groups, Maasai elders and villagers from the local area, and several community organizations including community health volunteers and women’s groups from the local towns of Sagalla and Mackinnon. About 200 people (75% girls and women) attended in total.

world menstrual day, women's hygiene, kenya, women's healthRight, Emily Mwawasi, Wildlife Works Community Relations Officer, at the event

Wildlife Works is committed to women’s empowerment, education and health and runs a variety of programs that work towards these aims within our project communities. In 2014, our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya began a program of making affordable, reusable sanitary towels from cotton scraps from our eco-factory to help those who couldn’t afford disposable sanitary towels.

We also started a training program at schools around our project area on Saturdays to teach young girls and mothers how to make these eco-friendly sanitary pads out of scraps that we supply. Through this program, we have taught and provided pads to around 350 local girls and women. Emily Mwawasi, Wildlife Works Community Relations Officer, was one of the special guests who spoke at the World Menstrual Hygiene Day event, highlighting that menstrual hygiene is critical for keeping girls in school and preventing unnecessary absences.

world menstrual day, women's hygiene, kenya, women's healthDemonstrations of reusable sanitary towels made from fabric scraps

The County Government, Kenya Red Cross and Ministry of Health jointly hosted the event. It included entertainment, speeches and demonstrations from representatives from local and county government, local schools and organizations working in the community, like Wildlife Works. Free samples of sanitary towels were also given out. Priscilla Mwangeka, former Mayor of Voi who was representing the Governor’s wife Hope Mrutu, commented, “I strongly believe that this day will trigger a positive discussion on challenges related to menstruation and bring confidence and a sense of belonging to our women and adolescent girls.”

world menstrual day, women's hygiene, kenya, women's healthMsharinyi Primary School Teacher demonstrating good person hygiene to his student


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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.

Completion of Much Needed Rainwater Catchment Tank

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On December 8, the village of Buguta, and six surrounding villages, celebrated the transfer of the Kula Kila rainwater catchment tank to the community. Wildlife Works installed the tank, which was funded by ASOS Foundation, the foundation arm to ASOS, a fashion client of SOKO, which is a partner factory located in our sanctuary. The tank, engineered for water collection ease, has greatly enhanced the villagers’ lives.

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Women from the seven villages started off the festivities with a traditional dance called Girama. The ward’s administer, a member of the county assembly, village elders from the seven villages, Wildlife Works representatives, and a SOKO Trust representative spoke at the dedication ceremony.

The Kula Kila catchment is on a large, natural rock outcrop, above Buguta village. The rock portion that is utilized is approximately one hectare in area. This area was cleared of loose soil and sand, and small guide walls were built around the edge of the rock face. These guide walls catch the rainwater run-off, and channel it to a central collection point at the lowest point of the rock face. The water then passes through a settling tank, where grains of sand or silt can settle, before being fed through pipes to storage tanks. Each tank holds 250,000 liters of water. From the tanks there is an outlet pipe leading to taps, from which community members can fill water containers.

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Providing water to these communities, in a central location, saves women and children considerable time walking to a clean water source, which has enabled the community to increase agricultural productivity, improve education, create improved and safer housing, and enhance health.

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Prior to the installment of the water catchment system, villagers were walking up to 20 kilometers to fetch water or buying water from water trucks. Now, they walk up to 1.5 kilometers to the tank. Mary Mghendi, Kula Kila Water Project Committee Chairman, spoke of benefits that the tank provides the community. She said quicker access to water frees villagers’ time to do more farming. Children now spend more time studying and less time fetching water. Due to greater water availability, villagers have begun creating sturdier and safer housing made of bricks, instead of traditional thatch. Brick houses are more durable, cooler in the hot season, and safer because they are not as flammable. Fewer people are getting sick from waterborne diseases, which are commonly derived from dirty well water.

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The ceremony ended with Wildlife Works staff, a Member of the County Assembly (MCA), Abraham Juma, and a member of the community cutting the ribbon and planting trees. The villagers were greatly appreciative of ASOS Foundation’s contribution to their community, which has improved their quality of life in numerous ways.

Since 2011, Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project has completed a total of 10 water projects serving over 26,000 community members.

Finding Solution to Water shortages along Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project

Recent erratic weather patterns from climate change have made water even scarcer for Kenya’s dessert savanna landscape. The past few years have brought droughts and water shortages. Due to lack of water access in impoverished and rural communities, poor hygiene related illnesses and conditions are the root cause of many afflictions in these towns. Additionally, many girls are forced to miss school and are vulnerable to sexual assault by traversing at night or in remote areas to fetch water.

Women carrying 20 litres of water at Sasenyi Rock Catchment before improvements:

Along the Kasigau REDD+ Corridor, the responsibility of finding and fetching water for their families falls on the women and children. All the water they need for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, and livestock are collected by carrying heavy water jugs for miles both ways. The journey and queue up can take an entire day, which is a day’s earnings lost, or a day’s school missed. The work is back-breaking and all-consuming.

A woman with a baby climb the rocky hill to fetch water on Sasenyi Rock Catchment before renovation.

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One of Wildlife Works’ top community development priorities is increasing water access. The best local strategies include renovating water rock catchment that store water in a small depressions during rains, building water tanks, improving water harvesting with gutter systems in hospitals and schools, digging water dams, and renovating water chambers in piping extensions.

For example, the Sasenyi Rock water catchment project that Wildlife Works enhanced in 2012 allowed water collection through a tap at the bottom of the rocky slopes. Before, women had to climb up the steep, rocky hill and descend it carrying a 20-liter jug full of water.

Renovation of Sasenyi Rock Water Catchment:

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These upgrades now ensure that the 630m3 of water capacity in this catchment is not gone to waste from the physical stresses of treading the hill. This catchment serves an estimated 4000 people, who democratically elected a water committee to serve as the liaison between the community and Wildlife Works, facilitate the hygiene education program, and manage the community schedule for maintenance.

Sasenyi Rock Water Catchment Tap requires no rock climbing!:

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In January of 2015, the Wildlife Works community team made a visit to another water project we lead; a dam we built in October 2014 in the community of Kisimenyi and Bughuta villages in the Kasigau area.

County Assembly Members, Wildlife Works and community members gather to hand over the dam to the people of Kisimenyi Village:

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The water that was collected from the short but heavy rains between October and December 2014 is estimated to last the community for the next four months until it is expected to rain again. The Wildlife Works team monitors the use, production, condition and impact of the safe water to the community.

Wildlife works tractor building Mighoa dam at Kasigau location:

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Laurian Lenjo, Wildlife Works community manager was proud to say, “There has been tangible results from the improved water access to the community. After many conversations with different families and community members, we can report that there has been an increase of girls’ school attendance, level of education and literacy rates, because they no longer need to miss school to secure water for their families. They also feel safer from sexual assault, as women and girls do not have to go to remote places to eliminate or to fetch water during the night. There has also been a reduction of physical injury to women from constant lifting and carrying heavy loads of water from far distances.”

The demand amount of water in this region generally is high and there is still a big need to continue improving water access solutions for the communities in our REDD+ project area. The table below shows the most recent water project we have completed.

Year Project Location Community served
2014 Mighoa water dam Kasigau 3000
2012 Jora water tank Kasigau 2000
2012 Sasenyi rock catchment Marungu 4000
2014 Jombo water project,pipe extension and tanks Mwachabo 1800
2013 Renovation of water chambers: pipe extension and tank Mwachabo 4000
2012 Roof catchment and tanks Maili Kumi Primary School Mwatate 600 – 800
2014 10000 litre water tank Marungu Primary School Marungu 600 – 800
2014 Kisimenyi Water pan Kasigau 2000
2012 Marungu dispensary water Gatering system Marungu 1000
2012 Makwasinyi water tank Kasigau 2000

Maili Kumi primary school students standing infront of a water tank made by wildlife works to their school:

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Gutter system at Maili Kumi Primary School in Mwatate:

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Ngangu water project where the water sourced from springs in the Taita forest:

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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.

Health, Wealth and Happiness: Rukinga Sanctuary hosts a health and finance management seminar for employees

Living in rural Kenya can mean limited access to formal institutions such as hospitals and banks. The closest hospital to Rukinga is St. Joseph Shelter of Hope located in the town of Voi, along with the closest bank. With Voi several hours away, many staff members at the Wildlife Sanctuary are paid in cash and find it hard to save money for the future. The Sanctuary’s Human Resources Department decided to host a special seminar bringing in speakers to teach Wildlife Works staff members how to stay on top of their health and finances. The goal of the talk was to provide employees with the tools needed for success.

On November 7, Dr. Andrew from St. Joseph Shelter of Hope and the finance team from Kenya Commercial Bank visited the Wildlife Sanctuary in Rukinga to speak in front of employees. The KCB finance team taught employees about how banks can keep their money safe. They demonstrated how to open a bank account and answered audience members’ questions on money issues.

Dr. Andrew spoke about the causes, treatments and preventative measures for cancer, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The doctor took time to focus on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, which is common among married women in Kenya because it is sexually transmitted. The audience was shocked to hear that men can carry HPV without showing any signs and put women at risk. The doctor also gave information on detecting early symptoms and advised women to get annual pap tests and cervical cancer screenings. While there is no cure for HPV, there are treatment options if one discovers cancerous cells in an early stage.

Dr. Andrew also discussed the symptoms of breast cancer. He demonstrated to the audience how to do self examinations by lying face up and using one’s hand to test for any unusual lumps or pain in the breast. If pain is detected, doctors can test for cancer while still in an early stage. The treatment for breast cancer is a mastectomy, where the breast is removed and one can use an artificial breast in its place. The doctor emphasized that removing a breast is far better than losing one’s life at a tender young age.

Dr. Andrew also accepted questions from the audience on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Rua from Wildlife Works thanked the two teams and all those who ensured that the day was a success. HR Manager Laurina Lenjo also expressed his gratitude to the speakers and audience members.

According to our in-the-field community reporter Rose, the seminar has been a great success! Staff members have opened bank accounts and are planning for the future. The workers are talking more openly about health issues and many of the women working at Wildlife Works’ Rukinga Sanctuary have gone in for cervical and breast cancer screenings. We wish everyone at Wildlife Works a healthy, prosperous new year!

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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.


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.