Strengthening community – one of our three major themes that we pursue with our partners on Rusinga. Ramanus Abade briefly summarizes 2021 and sends us some voices. Since the foundation of KWEPU in August 2019, an incredible amount has been created, through creative ideas and strong motivated efforts of many. The results spur on and new goals are mentioned.
Christmas greetings and wishes are exchanged. We are happy to pass on thanks and wishes for Merry Christmas and the New Year to our supporters.
KWEPU (Kamayoge Women Education Progressive Unit) is an organization registered with the Kenyan government that carries out various community outreach projects. Primarily in the areas of child welfare, women’s empowerment, conservation and environmental restoration through the sharing of ideas, knowledge and best practices to improve both forest cover and livelihoods of the local community. We are currently coordinating four projects on Rusinga Island:
- KWEPU Tree Nursery
- Ubuntu Poultry Farm
- Waware Tree Nursery
- Upanzi Wa Maisha (Plant for Life) Cooperative
We have also launched a youth movement called the Rusinga Youth Greening Movement to promote a campaign for positive environmental behavior change.
In 2021, despite some challenges, we managed to achieve more than what is described below. Read what representatives from each program had to say.
KWEPU Tree Nursery
Since its inception in 2020, we have managed to work with various institutions such as schools, churches, and beaches to encourage them to plant trees, following the motto “Tell a friend to tell a friend to plant a tree”. In this year 2021, Rusinga had a long drought, but we managed to plant trees in Ogola Jaseme Mixed Secondary School and Wakondo Primary School.
There are 3,000 seedlings ready for planting in the nursery and another 2,000 seedlings are yet to be planted. We also planted a forest on our property towards the lake, which is developing well. The nursery is located on a generous plot of land owned by Avery, and we have also planted some fruit trees such as avocados, guavas, paw paws and bananas. We also harvest vegetables for our own use and for sale.
In the nursery we also employ the children and give them basic training in raising the seedlings.
Vision 2022: We have a separate piece of land where we plan to plant a fruit orchard. Fruits such as avocados, mangoes, passion fruit and other highly nutritious fruits will be brought to the neighboring sub-districts for market. We intend to provide a solution and create a long-term source of income.
We also plan to plant 6,000 trees in three public schools, Dr. Williams Primary School, Wasaria Primary School and Kamagere Primary School. And then we want to replace the dead trees that we had donated to Eddy Elementary School, because Eddy Elementary School was built on a very bare and rocky ground. In our last tree planting campaign in the same school, we planted several different species of trees and now we have identified the best species for the area.
Ubuntu poultry farming
The Ubuntu Initiative is a project of KWEPU to establish an agricultural cooperative that assists the rural community in building resources, especially by providing needy families with resources that enable them to earn an income through farming and work objectively towards independence and food security.
The Ubuntu initiative started with fifteen households and had a target of sixty households. It was a revolving fund, and currently the initiative has reached the goal of sixty households. Representing other members, Grace shared this story.
Upanzi Wa Maisha
Upanzi Wa Maisha (Plant for Life) is a cooperative of farmers in Rusinga that works to promote independence and improve food security. It empowers women to take responsibility for their own finances by teaching them to manage a repayable loan, create a budget, save and invest. Vulnerable families are given the opportunity to generate their own income and become independent. It also works towards creating a society where vulnerable populations can live a dignified life with equal and equitable access to a better future by reducing the rate of dependency.
This includes the creation of vegetable gardens by fencing off land where they can grow vegetables, crops and fruits. We managed to fence the gardens of ten needy women, although we wanted to reach 20 beneficiaries. It was a loan that was given to them and they are supposed to pay back the money so that we can use it for the remaining ten more women.
Currently, the farmers have planted various crops, vegetables and fruits in the plots. In all ten gardens, bananas and pawpaw are obligatory. They have started harvesting the local vegetables they planted, which has motivated and uplifted them a lot since they started benefiting from the program. On November 27, 2021, the farmers held their end-of-year meeting at the KWEPU nursery where they shared the challenges they are facing to find a solution. They agreed to meet every month starting January 14, 2022 to share ideas to move forward.
One of the members had this to say about the program:
Waware Tree Nursery & Rusinga Youth Greening Movement
The Waware Tree Nursery is located at the Wakiaga Youth Polytechnic on the east side of Rusinga, about three kilometers from Mbita town. It is the only nursery in the area, which includes four sub-counties. The Waware nursery has a total of 7,000 seedlings ready for planting and is run by a group of local youth and women on a voluntary basis under the supervision of KWEPU.
The Rusinga Youth Greening Movement was created to lead the campaign across the island for positive environmental change. They have succeeded in this by going door to door and organizing public meetings with Chief Baraza, in churches, on beaches, etc.
The youth educate the community on the dangers of cutting trees without replacement, the types of trees to plant and how to care for them, the benefits of planting different trees, from fruit trees to shade trees, and how to properly dispose of waste. This is indeed a way, and we ask that we continue to work together to achieve better results.
This is reported by one of the young people in charge:
Many thanks to all our supporters!
Great things have been achieved with few resources.
One more urgent request from Ramanus at this point: KWEPU’s tree nursery, established in 2020, needs a new and sturdy fence. The previous fence made of wooden posts was partially trampled down by animals, including hippos. For the material we still need 680 €. You are welcome to contact us.