Since one recommendation in the report on the tree planting exercise within Kwale was the assessment of the success of the tree planting exercise, the Centre for Research, Training and Publications (CRTP) organized an assessment field exercise on 8th June 2022.
Together with the local coordinators in Kwale, the researcher visited the four locations where the tree species were planted. The first location visited was Ramisi ward where the Bomani self-help group planted the trees.. The chairperson of the group took the CRTP team around the area where the trees had been planted. Out of the 350 trees that were planted, we were able to identify and count 347 of the trees. The remaining three, we were informed, had withered. The Bomani group chairperson also showed us a further 250 trees they had planted after receiving them from the Kenya Forest Service in Msambweni sub-county office.
The second location was at Kinondo Ward where the Mwandurya self-help group planted the 350 trees distributed by CRTP. The secretary to the group and five other members took us to the site. We were able to confirm that the remaining 250 trees left for the group had been planted. Seven had withered but the remaining were being tended well by the group. The group had additionally demarcated the site with a temporary fence to prevent cattle from feeding on the trees.
The next location visited by the CRTP was the Miche ya milele tree nursery where we had purchased an additional 500 trees. The trees were of five different species i.e. neem tree, bamba koffi, mzambarau, mkelekele and mchani. All these species, we were informed, are sources of hard wood upon maturity. The trees were to be distributed to the Sisters to Sisters and Umoja ni nguvu self-help groups who had not benefitted from the donation of the Kenya Forest Service.
Our afternoon visit to the remaining two groups started with the Umoja ni nguvu group at Gombato Bongwe Ward, where also a handful of the group were present and tending to the trees. The site was well separated, with each of the three species initially distributed planted in its own row as had been advised by the Forest Officer. Two hundred of the five hundred trees purchased were distributed to the group, who had already prepared the holes in advance as per the Forest Officer’s guidance. Contrary to the other two groups visited, all the trees distributed to the group were confirmed to be thriving, planted and well taken. Additionally, the chairperson of the group who was present informed us that they engaged someone at a cost of KES. 2,000 to help ensure that the site is free of cattle. Both the group members present and the CRTP team planted 50 of the trees purchased.
Our last visit was in Diani Ward the site where the Sisters to sisters group had planted the 350 trees. A few members of the group were present to receive the remaining 250 trees. We were shown the site and the CRTP team confirmed that all the trees had been planted. Three of them however had withered but the rest were progressing well. The official present informed us that the group had adopted the project as their own and that every member was tasked with taking care of the trees. During the visit 50 of the trees purchased were planted.
9th June 2022
In accordance with the Environmental Advocacy Support in Extractive Industries (EASEI) project’s first objective, the Centre for Research, Training and Publications conducted an awareness and advocacy workshop in Diani – Ukunda. 43 participants attended. Four of them were stakeholders from different sectors whom we had engaged from the start of the project within Kwale County. They included the Chief Officer – Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Nur Mboga, the County Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Kwale – Godfrey Wafula in the company of his assistant, the County Forest Conservator – Kenya Forest Service – Blessingtone Maghanga and Forest Officer – Msambweni sub-county – Milton Lumbasi.
The other remaining 38 participants were miners and some members from the four groups CRTP was working with in the rehabilitation of the destructed land within the locations identified for the project. The number of male participants was slightly higher than female participants, 20 men and 18 women.
The session began with a brief overview of the work done by CRTP and the objective(s) of the EASEI project and its intended outcome(s). This was immediately followed by the presentation of the study findings within Kwale. Being that majority of the participants had been engaged during the data collection exercise as either KII(s) or in the FGD, the session was mainly interactive . Additionally, the session served as a validation exercise as the participants were in agreement with the findings presented under the eight themes of the research. Key highlight of the session were the recommendations made to the stakeholders present (NEMA and County Government) and the proposal for further research particularly by NEMA to ascertain mining-related toxicity levels in the soil and air.
The session that followed was a brief presentation from the Chief Officer from Kwale County on “County Government efforts in mitigating environmental degradation and avenues for collaboration with the communities in addressing environmental destruction”. Her presentation outlined the following issues: Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Waste Management, County Achievements and Opportunities for collaboration.
Key highlights of the presentation included discussion of the opportunities available to the communities for collaboration. Some of the avenues available as per the presentation were: public participation and Stakeholder Engagement in the development of County policies; plans, programs and project. As well as lobbying for increased budgetary allocation to the environmental sector in the budgetary cycle; participating in the development of environmental tools SEA, ESIA to ensure adequate mitigation of environmental and social impacts in projects; and reporting environmental infringements to relevant authorities. Lastly, she advocated for other alternative income generating activities by the miners. She gave an example of a project where people were converting used diapers into burning charcoal and said she was ready to share the contacts of the group involved in that project.
The next presentation was by the County Forest Conservator on “Identification and contacts of potential stakeholders in the distribution of more trees. Criteria and how communities can organize themselves as groups to benefit from trees from KFS”.
He began by highlighting the relevant laws that govern forests and their conservation in Kenya ,key being the Forest and Conservation Act 2016. On matters conservation, he pointed out that within the Coastal region there exists two forestations, which are meant to restore damaged forests. In Kwale particularly, there is the Kwale forestation. A brief overview in his presentation was the report by the Kenya Forest Service on Kenya attaining 12% tree cover, which has now been pushed to 30% by the year 2030. Within Kwale, he noted that the County was on the right trajectory on tree cover, which he placed at 10%. However, the forest cover was still down at 5.2%.
In concluding his presentation, the Conservator stated that the miners and the groups could organize themselves into Community Forest Associations (CFAs) which will enable them to benefit more from tree donations from KFS, and could be one of the way that they could rehabilitate the degraded land and harvest from the trees planted. Currently, he noted, there are 12 CFAs in Kwale and 2 Farm forest groups.
Finally, he asked the participants to work closely with the Forest Officer present who could assist them get more trees if they require.
The last presentation of the day was by the NEMA County Director. His presentation focus was “Opportunities available for the communities in the formulation and implementation of environmental policies”. The first discussion point of the presentation explored whether the miners present conducted the mining activities on their own land or if they knew the landowners. He pointed out that this was important because land tenure is a key element in the mining sector especially during decommissioning of mining sites.
A few of the participants stated that the mining activities they were doing were happening on their own land while the other participants stated that they knew to whom the land accommodating the mining activities belonged. Being small-scale miners, the Director told the miners of sand-harvesting guidelines, which regulate the business. He emphasized the importance of the miners acquainting themselves with the guidelines not only for their own good but also for the protection of the environment.
The Kwale Quarrying Act of 2016 was another avenue whereby the miners could participate in its implementation by holding the County accountable in the regulation of the sand harvesting business. In his concluding remarks, key emphasis on public participation forums was made, as it was the only opportunity where the miners could make their contribution in the development of the relevant policies relating to the environment.
The workshop concluded with group discussions, presentations whereby the groups were asked to deliberate on their expectations from the project, challenges faced so far in their current source of livelihoods, and stakeholders to be engaged to assist mitigate the challenges. Key expectations from the four groups included the desire that the tree-planting project be a success and that they would be able to reap from the trees planted upon maturity and to restore the degraded land. In the words of one participant, “Hive sasa wengine wetu hapa ni wadosi kwa kuwa tuna miliki mashamba haya ambapo uchimbaji unatendeka lakini mradi huu utakapo komaa nina hakika kila mmoja wetu hapa atakuwa bwenyenye Inshallah.” Adding to this, another participant opined that, “Leo katika kikao hiki tumepata ufahamu zaidi juu ya madhara ambayo uchimbaji mchanga unasababisha katika mazingira. Nami nina imani ya kuwa tukijitolea mhanga sisi kama wajimbaji mchanga kuweza kurejesha hadhi ya mazingira yetu kupitia ushikamano na Hekima pamoja na serikali ya kaunti na washikadau wengine hapa, tutaweza kuwa mabalozi wa kuhifadhi mazingira na sio waharibifu wa mazingira”.
Additionally, they hoped that fruit trees would be distributed in the next phase of tree distribution. Some of the challenges that cut across the groups was inadequate or lack of protective gear, prohibitive prices of buyers, inadequate trees for planting and threat of trees planted being destroyed by animals.
The stakeholders that could address some of the challenges include the County Government who could assist them in not only acquiring the necessary protective gear, but also in regulating the sand harvesting sector to ensure they are not exploited. Local administration, they hoped, would assist in ensuring that owners of cattle ensure that their animals graze at a distance and that Hekima University might assist in the partial purchase of fences. The KFS could assist by donating more trees to the groups who show enthusiasm in owning the project.
The assessment field visit by the CRTP team notes the willingness and determination of the groups to own the tree-planting project. This was evident in the survival count of the trees that had been distributed to the groups by both CRTP and KFS. It is thus important that regular assessments by the local coordinators are done for proper monitoring and evaluation.
- More stakeholder engagements to actualize alternative income generating activities for the miners.
- Future research collaboration(s) with both NEMA and the County Government.
- Help in the mitigation of some of the challenges highlighted such as the supply of fence.
- Course training on environmental protection to the officials of the groups.