By Jane Okoth
Wildlife Works Kasigau REDD+ project has benefited thousands of members of communities in rural Kenya through the distribution of carbon revenue. Local people in the Kasigau project area face a lot of challenges, ranging from marginalization to poverty and illiteracy. The intervention of Wildlife Works’ projects has brought a lot of positive change into the lives of these communities, especially in education. For example, the construction of classrooms for schools has ensured that vulnerable children in our project area have a chance to fight the inequalities that stand in their way.
In the month of November 2018, Wildlife Works was invited to officiate a groundbreaking ceremony held to mark the construction of the first three classrooms for Busho Secondary School. The ceremony was held in a remote village called Busho, approximately 50 kilometers from Wildlife Works’ headquarters in Maungu.
Community leaders, school heads, government officials and members of the local community had gathered together to celebrate this important milestone. The ceremony started off with the area Member of County Assembly Tsuma Joseph Danda and Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Protus Mghendi breaking ground with a shovel at the site of the new school. What followed was the planting of tree seedlings at the site to encourage environmental conservation in the school. Everyone gathered then observed a minute’s silence for Rob Dodson, the late Vice President of African Field Operations.
Busho area Ward Representative Mr. Ibrahim Ndoro thanked Wildlife Works for the school project. “We are thankful for the construction of these school buildings as it will cater for the community’s needs. We also urge all parents to bring their children to this school be it boys or girls,” he said. His sentiments were echoed by Ruwa Mwaruwa, the area Member of Parliament Representative who urged the residents to fully embrace community projects pioneered by Wildlife Works.
“Take your children to school”
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Representative Mr Japhet Jeffa applauded Wildlife Works and called for such projects to be extended to other schools. He also encouraged parents to take their children to school because it is their right. “Now that the school is going to be built, it is up to you parents to bring your children to school because teachers are more than ready to teach,” he said.
“We are thankful for this project because it has been given to people to deserve it. This is because we live in a landlocked area with limited access to water, electricity and even education,” he added.
No Longer Suspects of Wildlife Crime
In the past, the community living around Busho was always at loggerheads with Wildlife Works rangers as they engaged in bush meat poaching and illegal charcoal burning. Thanks to climate change discussions on the importance of conserving wildlife and the environment, the community is slowly transitioning from this old way of life. “We want to assure Wildlife Works that we are no longer suspects of wildlife crime and damaging the environment. Thanks to their awareness campaigns, we are friends of wildlife and will work together to conserve nature,” Mr Japhet said. He also urged residents not to be enemies of wildlife because projects are implemented as a result of appreciating nature.
During the occasion, several primary school heads pledged to bring students into the school once they are set to join secondary school.
Speaking at the event, Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Protus Mghendi explained to the audience how the REDD+ Project works, how carbon credits are attained as well as how it benefits the community.
The construction is set for completion in 2019 where students will be in a new building that will foster a nurturing learning environment for generations of Busho Secondary School to come. The new school will also address high illiteracy levels the area faced for the past years.
Wildlife Works is dedicated to improving education in our project area. We believe that education has the power to unlock potential and give children the support and opportunities they deserve. We thank community members and our partners for their support in implementing such projects.
See construction progress of the classrooms below.