This is Alex Katana, the Project Manager in Kenya. Alex supervises the community nurseries, the Bore Community Forest Centre, the Pledged Forest Reserve and the classroom building programme. He has led over 30 sustainable development initiatives on behalf of the Giriama community of Bore during the last 12 years. He is a strong advocate for his tribe and was honoured with a National Hero Certificate for his work in forest canopy restoration in Coast Province, awarded personally by President Kenyatta in 2016.
Bore is an area of Coast Province, in eastern Kenya that sits right on the equator. This really is the front line of the climate crisis. The climatic conditions have become increasingly unpredictable, bouncing between extremes of drought and deluge. The local population has relied heavily on subsistence farming for generations and now, this way of life is under threat. The community hasn’t had a good harvest for over 5 years. Their next best option as a means of generating income is charcoal making which leads to a damaging cycle of deforestation, land degradation and ongoing impoverishment.
The Bore Community Forest Project supports subsistence farmers and the wider community to adapt to the increasingly chaotic climate and protect their precious forests.
The overall aim of the project is to increase and protect tree cover in the area. It will do this by
The project also contributes towards global efforts to minimise climate change through sequestration and retention of carbon, by both protected forest areas and the newly planted, fast-growing trees.
The project revolves around the Bore Community Forest Centre which was launched in 2018. The Centre acts a hub for the community, a place for meetings, training, shared learning and opportunities for sustainable income generation. The development of such livelihoods diverts the community away from charcoal making activities which in turn protects the precious coastal forest from deforestation.
With support from Size of Wales, a community forest reserve of 288 hectares is being created surrounding the Bore Community Forest Centre. Local farmers surrounding the Centre have joined a pledge initiative agreeing not to cut down their forests.
Tree nurseries dotted throughout the community provide employment for 20 women. Seedlings are grown and given to participating farmers and schools. In as little as 3-4 years they start to yield a valuable harvest of fruit, nuts and timber which gives the growers an alternative income to their current staple of charcoal-burning. Since 2008, nearly 1 million trees have been planted. This has been a result of a community-wide effort involving 1,200 farmers and 125 schools.
GPS records of all planting sites and protected forest are kept for evaluation and monitoring purposes.
Bore is home to the Giriama people, a dispersed community of some 5,000 subsistence farmers living in small clan homesteads in a heavily deforested and remote part of Kilifi County, Coast Province. The Giriama are one of 9 ‘Mijikenda’ tribes that inhabit the coastal region, being a small and isolated community they have little representation within national government. This means they receive scant support from the state and are one of the most economically disadvantaged ethnic groups within the country.
Most of the land in this area is deforested scrub and the remoteness means there are few opportunities for earning a decent living so the majority of the community survive by growing maize and vegetables. With an increasingly chaotic climate, both droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and this has led to repeated crop failures over the last few years. As is common in sub-Saharan Africa, women are responsible for the bulk of farming and agricultural work. Now, it is even harder to successfully grow and harvest crops in these difficult environmental conditions. The only alternative to subsistence farming is charcoal burning, unsurprisingly now the main driver of deforestation in the area.
Luckily, the Giriama farmers are incredibly hardworking and resourceful and are used to making the best of their marginalised geographical, political and now climatic situation.
As well as the more widely spoken English and kiSwahili, the native language of the region is kiGiriama. Very few members of the community are educated beyond secondary school and so scientific terms are hard to come by in their native language. For example, carbon dioxide is called ‘hewa chafu which literally translates as ‘bad air’.
Community Carbon Link is a unique partnership that connects towns and villages in mid-Wales with the region of Bore in Coast Province, Kenya. It’s a Wales / Africa community link that encourages ordinary people in the UK to take responsibility for their large carbon footprint by supporting sustainable forestry projects with African partners.
The link enables the communities in Kenya to conserve their endangered forest and build resilience, capacity and adaptation against a rapidly changing climate.