Maai Mahiu, Kenya: Tree Nursery
Mama Hope recognizes the important role the environment plays in alleviating poverty and that deforestation is one of the most pressing issues in the fight against climate change. Climate change is caused in large part by emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) released from burning fossil fuels and from land use change, particularly the removal of forests. Absurdly, the countries that industrialized first like the UK, US and France have emitted vastly more GHGs then developing countries and yet it is the rural communities in those emerging countries that will be hardest hit.
Mama Hope believes there must be a response to land degradation in Africa in order to reduce the affects of climate change. This response must include not only planting and protecting forests but also getting the community involved in this change through land-use education and forest conservation training. In particular, the process of planting trees removes CO2 from the atmosphere and provides a natural buffer against desertification and drought.
Ngeya Tree Nursery
For the last 5 years in Maai Mahiu the community garden has not been harvested due to a combination of poor land use and climate change. As a consequence, 80% of their vegetables came from the neighboring villages. Specifically, the land in Maai Mahiu is barren from tree removal for charcoal production and more generally because Kenya’s forest cover reaches only 1.7 percent, far below the minimum UN recommended 10 percent.
Mama Hope partnered with CTC International to combat these problems and create a tree nursery project to reintroduce indigenous trees back into the community. The tree nursery provides enough income to also fund the maintenance and expansion of the Mama Hope demonstration garden at the Ngeya School.
When the project began we were working with 5 youth from the Ngeya School that helped plant 500 indigenous trees in the school compound. The coinciding Environmental Club that emerged now has 76 students at the Ngeya School and they have planted a total of 10,000 tree seedlings comprising 15 different tree species. The goal for the Tree Nursery project in 2012 is to have 100 students in the environmental club and plant 30,000 tree seedlings including over 100 different species. Their goal is to plant these trees throughout the entire town of Maii Mahiu on farms, schools and church compounds. Mama Hope’s scale-up goal is to continue to expand this successful community tree-planting and environmental education program to our other partner communities in Kenya and throughout Africa.
Of note, the environmental club at the Ngeya Primary School also manages a drip irrigation vegetable garden that began in 2009 and now supplements the nutrition of 1,400 students during daily lunches.