June 10, 2011
The current crisis of global warming has far-reaching consequences for different people in various parts of the world. Indeed due to this phenomena, areas which otherwise enjoyed predictable weather patterns now receive erratic and more often unreliable rainfall.
On the outskirts of Nairobi, a self-help group consisting of 27 women and 6 men is trying to conserve the environment in a seemingly small but causing impact. The Ngeyu self-help group was founded in 2006 after the locals discovered that the soil erosion that was taking place in their area could be curtailed.
The massive erosion of the landscape was due to the unabated deforestation that had taken place for close over two decades. This necessitated the formation of the group to try to save their community since the resultant massive landslide during the long rains caused some members to lose their homes.
The first step in fulfilling their mission was to first, get advice from the Forest Service especially on the establishment and maintaining of tree seedlings. After a series of trainings from the government agency, the group was further given training on which tree varieties was suitable for that kind of environment.
In 2007, the group through its chairperson Mrs. Wanjiru planted 16,000 seedlings in their nursery, which were later transplanted on the surrounding hilly side. This particular range of hills that surround the village is very prone to mudslides and so it was a huge relief when during the third year there were no mudslides reported in spite of the heavy rainfall.
Since the program started, the group has been able to plant over 60,000 seedlings across the Kunai Hill and the surrounding area. Other seedlings have been transplanted in schools and hospitals.
The various varieties of trees that are planted by the group as the secretary insists are the Amaranths, eucalyptus, mango, paw paw and blue gum and the passion fruit tree. The seedlings are put in the seedbed that is protected from the sun by shades locally constructed. Each seedling is placed on its own polythene paper bag with just a little amount of fertilizer and water everyday. Depending on their growth, they can be ready for sale or transplanting from between six and eight weeks.
To protect the seedlings from being damaged, the group members on rotation guard the kunai hill, and this has bore fruits since local farmers used to graze their livestock around the area. The environment here now looks green with various tree varieties taking root and changing the vegetation cover.
The Ngeyu group sells the seedlings at about $2 per tree, after which the money is collected and put into the members group account. About 30 seedlings are sold per day, thanks to increased awareness about conserving the environment throughout the country.
From the sales members can get to get a monthly allowance of about $100 to cater for their basic needs. The rest can be loaned to members at a minimal interest rate of one percent, repayable within a month. This has enabled members to take their children to school while others have started their own business to supplement their earnings.
Some of the benefits, which the group can boast of, are improved livelihood for the members. This is especially so from the earnings derived from the sale of the tree seedlings, which they deliver to the local community, schools and the neighbouring districts.
Besides Ngeyu Group’s conservation efforts, the members also engage in educating other self-help groups with a view of empowering them to change the environment and make a living out of it. The trainings essentially involve how to start tree seedlings, maintaining them and looking for markets to sell the various varieties.
Slowly by slowly, the Ngeyu self-help group has managed to tame the effects of deforestation that was harming their village and in the process have been able to get their daily bread from their conservation efforts.