• Tree Planting and Forest Conservation
Wood energy provides 70% of Kenya’s national energy needs and is expected to continue as the country’s main energy source. The high demand for fuelwood calls for increased tree planting efforts or the adoption of alternative energy sources.
The high demand for fuelwood has resulted in deforestation, severely impacting the climate. The weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable, and food insecurity is threatening the nation.
The Kiangure Springs Environment Initiative (KSEI) works with Upper Tana catchment communities through a watershed-based approach to conserve and restore degraded watersheds of key water catchments in the Aberdare and Mt. Kenya Forests to improve their functions and improve the livelihood of the local communities.
We use an integrated approach that sustainably supports the economy of the forest communities through diversified Income Generating Activities (IGA), including beekeeping, tree nurseries, fish farming, poultry, goat keeping, and fruit tree farming in farmlands. Best farmers in tree planting and farm management receive Improved Cookstoves and Solar lamps as a token of appreciation.
Since 2007, KSEI and its partners have planted 2.5 million trees within the Aberdare and Mt. Kenya ecosystems. In 2017 Kiangure Springs environment Initiative was awarded by the Kenya Forest Service in recognition of efforts in tree growing and forest conservation.
• Renewable Energy Promotion
ccording to the Kenya Forest Service report, deforestation in the country is estimated at 103,368 ha per year (0.17% of the national area).
Biomass fuels are the most critical source of primary energy in Kenya, with fuelwood (firewood and charcoal) accounting for over 70% of total immediate energy consumption.
About 85% of the population in Central Kenya lives in the rural parts of the country. This population segment depends on biomass consisting of firewood, charcoal, twigs, straw, crop residues, and cow dung to meet its energy demands for cooking and other domestic needs.
Using biomass as fuel has serious ill effects such as degradation of the environment due to deforestation, loss of soil fertility due to diversion of animal manure, which acts as a fertilizer, and various health hazards particularly associated with rural women and children due to Indoor House Pollution (IHP).
The leading causes of deforestation are clearing for cultivation, cutting trees for fuel, timber production, and urbanization.
Biomass combustion in households using a traditional three-stone fireplace without any smoke exhaust provision exposes women and children to smoke containing harmful products.
Burning 1 kg of wood will generate between 1.65 to 1.80 Kg of CO2. Prolonged exposure to smoke is responsible for coughing, wheezing, acute respiratory infection, chronic obstructive lung disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and lung cancer.
Deforestation has made firewood scarce, resulting in women and their young ones being forced to spend more time fetching firewood. In addition to being a heavy burden, firewood fetching, in conjunction with other factors, is taking so much of the children’s time that it may be said to be adversely affecting the literacy rate due to the non-availability of time for education.
Lack of funds have been a barrier to adopting Renewable Energy Promotion & technologies in Africa and Kenya in particular. KSEI is providing subsidized and affordable options to promote the accessibility of these technologies to the poor.
KSEI fabricates and distributes Improved Cookstoves (ICS) for households and institutions to reduce the pressure exerted on local forests. On average, one improved stove saves approximately 634 kilograms of fuelwood annually or about 0.94 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
We are Installing Institutional stoves and promoting Biomass Briquettes to save our forests. We promote Rocket Stove, Jiko Kiisasa, Miracle Stove, and Jiko Smart, among others.
• Climate change
Climate change is increasingly becoming a hazard in Kenya. Today, we experience more regular extreme weather patterns, increased temperatures, irregular and unpredictable rainfall, extreme drought, and flooding.
Climate change directly affects agriculture which is the key to Kenya’s economy, contributing 33% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) directly and 27% of GDP indirectly. The agriculture sector employs more than 40% of the total population and more than 70% of Kenya’s rural people.
Most Kenyan farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture; about 98% of Kenya’s agricultural systems are rain-fed and highly susceptible to climate change and variability.
The leading causes of climate change are greenhouse gases, deforestation, the burning of fossil fuels, and human activities.
Combating climate change is critical; KSEI appeals for more stakeholders and partners to support some of our initiatives.
KSEI has collaborated with the communities within the Upper Tana catchment area to ensure they preserve the forest by planting more trees on their farms and in the forest.
Also, KSEI has deployed the use of renewable energy, improved cookstoves, biomass briquettes, and biogas systems to reduce deforestation and fuelwood dependency.
• Youth and Women Empowerment
The Aberdare Forest Reserve covers an area of 149,822 Ha. While the forest acts as the primary water catchment area in the central region, it has its own limiting factor. Many youths and women in the region remain unemployed due to reduced agricultural and other economic activities.
Also, with the continued climate change, the agricultural output in the region is becoming increasingly unpredictable.
The Kiangure Youth Empowerment Program (K-YEP) works with youth via seminars, rallies, and youth-friendly activities. The program allows youth to openly discuss sexuality, substance use, and entrepreneurship issues. Often, youth in Kenya do not have access to accurate information about the disease and the impact of individual behavior on the spread of the disease.
Youth Empowerment Program operates a youth empowerment center where young people nurture their talents, learn life-changing skills, and gain economic empowerment and incubation.
KSEI is working with Painting a new world to support Community Empowerment through an art Programme, creating community-level awareness on climate change, governance, corruption, health, and cultural issues. Through this program, the livelihood of individual artists is impacted positively while the community’s awareness is created. We also train them on various renewable energy technologies.
Women Empowerment Programs involve;
Training program on how to fabricate cookstoves
Biomas briquettes making
Knitting of traditional ‘chondos.’
Women support groups
Fish and goat farming
• Community Development
The mission of KSEI is to improve the livelihood of the communities within the Upper Tana catchment area. Therefore, we seek to improve;
Food Security & Sustainable livelihoods
The program strives to improve food security and ensure sustainable livelihoods through integrated intervention focusing on Sustainable Agriculture. Through;
Supporting financial services and business development: We support people’s ability to save and access credit through community savings and loans groups and expand business skills development work through table banking.
Boosting harvests and increasing access to markets: We work with farmers to improve farm productivity, post-harvest storage, and market awareness to help ensure rural households have access to food throughout the year and the opportunity to increase their income.
Strengthening resilience to shocks and stresses: We will empower communities to prepare for external stresses such as droughts and price fluctuations through income diversification, water & land management, and conservation.
Governance & Democracy
The program aims to create an empowered society that can demand democratic practice at all levels and participate in Governance & Democracy issues. The main projects include the Alternative Leadership Programme, Women Civic Empowerment Program, Youth Empowerment program, and Natural resource management.
The overall objective of this program is to entrench community participation in governance and democratic processes, thereby creating an informed society that can demand democratic practices at all levels and participate in development issues.
Water and sanitation
The component focuses on improving sanitation both at the domestic and institutional levels. The domestic water supply and quality to mitigate the effects of waterborne and other diseases in the community. This is done through sanitation education and the conservation of natural water sources. As a result:
a) The time freed up from water collection means women have more time for work, and productivity within the community increases
b) When children no longer have to collect water, they can spend more time in education, improving their chances of a brighter future
c) Hygiene education programs and practices dramatically improve the health of a community, heavily reducing the amount of water-related diseases and deaths