Saving the Mara River through Sustainable Bamboo Plantation

June 5, 2017

Kenya Placeholder
Kenya

Saving the Mara river through sustainable bamboo plantation

About the Implementing organization

Name: Mara River Water Users Association

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 2003

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business  / Public-private partnership

Description

Riparian lands in Kenya are vulnerable to climate change and human activities. 4 % of Kenya’s wetlands, which constitute 6.8% of the country’s land mass, have been encroached. Challenges arise with increasing temperatures and the growing number of people who depend on these riparian lands for their livelihoods. Mara River Water Users Association (MRWUA), is addressing this issue by both protecting the wetlands and providing an alternative means of livelihood by planting bamboo for commercial utilization.

The initiative focuses on working with the communities to grow bamboo on riparian land, harvesting it as a source of income for farmers and processing the bamboo into various sustainable products. Many riparian plants are adapted to hydrologic and geomorphic disturbances and tolerate both seasonal and annual variation in environmental conditions. Thus riparian species are resilient to the increased flooding or drought. The focus is to conserve and rehabilitate riverbanks to make them resilient to climate change and to shift livelihood income as well as empower the local communities.

The benefits from bamboo are both ecological and socio-economic. For this project they include: (i) restore river banks for the Mara River via bamboo plantations on riparian zones (ii) soil and water restoration (iii) Carbon sequestration estimated at 1500 tons and (iv) improving livelihoods for the communities.
Africa

Nature Element

Forests / Wetlands / Rivers

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Water security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

              

Environmental Impacts

The benefits from bamboo are both ecological and socio-economic. For this project they include: (i) restore river banks for the Mara River via bamboo plantations on riparian zones (ii) soil and water restoration (iii) Carbon sequestration estimated at 1500 tons and (iv) improving livelihoods for the communities.
The initiative seeks to offer a sustainable and renewable energy solution while offering farmers a consistent, long-term source of income. Working with the farmers on the outreach program, ensures that we create local ownership of the program. The implementation of the project will enhance the bamboo stock that will ensure that the factory has a sustained source of raw materials. The Commercialization of bamboo will provide Kenyan with employment and enhanced value for their cash crop compared to other crops where value addition is done in other markets resulting in very poor prices for the farmers.

Sustainable Development Impacts

The initiatives impacts on the following Sustainable development elements:
Goal 1:End poverty in all its forms everywhere through income generation.
Goal 2:End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3:Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 8:Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all through gainful farming
Goal 9:Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation through linking markets to conservation.
Goal 12:Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns through optimal land use
Goal 13:Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 15:Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss through conserving Mau.

Scalability

The association in collaboration with Green-pot Enterprises currently has recruited 200 farmers living adjacent to riverine areas and have contractual agreements have been made to these farmers. It is envisaged that awareness creation through the normal activities of the Association will bring more interest in the project thus it will be able to be adopted by the local county governments as a means of restoring denuded riverine areas and at the same time conserve water sources and improve green vegetation in the basin.

Nationally the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) the institution charged with the management of national forest has been at the forefront in the promotion of bamboo as an alternate tree for income generation for communities due to its good financial rewards. The Association also is a model for community based water resources and livelihood improvement in the community due to the numerous international awards key of which is the Equator prize winner in 2010.

Replicability

This model can easily replicated within and out of the country. With the advent of devolution within the Kenyan constitutional dispensation came the formation of counties in the devolved government structure. So far the two counties sharing the bulk of the Mara River basin in Kenya  have embraced the model within their integrated county development plans within the context of environment, water resources/forest management and also good trade practices to promote the local economy. Uganda had also shown interest in have the model in their country using a similar model. The initiative can further be replicated by creating awareness on the advantages of the avocado fruit both in terms of conservation, nutrition and income generation.

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