Reforesting Kenya’s water tower

Reforesting, Kenya, water, tower, seedlings, africa, african, farmingWomen of central province have established over 316 tree nurseries with a combined production of 1.5mn seedlings per season - Image credit to http://tavaana.org

Women of central province have established over 316 tree nurseries with a combined production of 1.5mn seedlings per season

“We decided to plant indigenous trees to bring back the rains. Now 65 springs that were dry in this area have started flowing with water,” Jane Nduta, a Green Belt member.

While scientists believe that forests should cover at least 10 per cent of a nation’s landmass, for ecocsystem services like the water cycle to function well, forest now covers less than two per cent of Kenya’s land, according to the Kenya Forest Service.

In Kenya’s Tetu constituency, USAID is helping women in the Green Belt Movement to restore critical water catchments on the eastern side of the Aberdares forest.

“Since 2008, women within our constituency have planted over 700,000 indigenous trees with assistance from other members of the community and the Kenya army” says Jane Nduta, a Green Belt member.

“We decided to plant indigenous trees to bring back the rains. Now 65 springs that were dry in this area have started flowing with water,” she says.

Results

The Green Belt Movement facilitates similar efforts in two neighboring constituencies - Othaya and Nyeri - with USAID support. Some results:

  • Over 2,000 women share knowledge on tree species, nutritious indigenous food crops and exchange seeds through social networks that have transformed into economic ventures.

  • The women have established 316 tree nurseries with a combined production capacity of 1.5mn seedlings per season.

  • In 2009, the women earned $30,240 from sale of tree seedlings to conservation NGOs, private companies and farmers.

The Aberdares forest is one of Kenya’s five water towers and the main catchment for Tana River, Kenya’s largest water supplier to the Seven Forks Hydropower plants, generating over half of Kenya’s power supply. Illegal encroachment for farming and uncontrolled harvesting of forest products have gravely reduced the forests’ water retention capacity.  But community efforts such as Green Belt’s women’s reforestation networks with assistance from the community, private water companies, Kenya’s armed forces and other NGOs are helping to restore this critical catchment.

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