This project employs a number of strategies to fight deforestation in Kenya. “Tree Seedling Propagation to Combat Disastrous Deforestation around Migori” helps people from three local slums manufacture efficient cook stoves, grow tree seedlings, and make building blocks out of sand in Migori town. The integrated approach provides various environmental benefits while giving the urban poor new ways to make a living.
650 efficient cook stoves produced weekly
500,000 tree seedlings grown every six months
145 members benefit directly
Poverty, overpopulation, and overdependence on wood for fuel have combined to cause disastrous deforestation in Kenya. In Migori Town of southwest Kenya, the urban poor depend on firewood and charcoal for fuel. It is also a necessity to earn a living. But deforestation and the related effects have harmed the environment in and around Migori town. This in turn affects the townspeople, for example in the form of erosion and flooding.
Members of the Wadu, a self-help group, have developed an innovative and efficient cook stove made of salvaged tin or iron sheets. Poor populations in Migori town can learn how to make these cook stoves, and sell them. The stoves are able to burn a single piece of wood for several hours, and are used for example in preparation of street food.
Urban poor who formerly sold firewood are also now harvesting sand that is continually deposited along the banks of the Migori River. They use the sand, combining it with soil and cement, to produce blocks that can be sold for construction. The self-help group is also propagating tree seedlings, having established three large nurseries to supply government demand.
Helping the planet
Planting trees prevents riverbank erosion and reduces flooding around the town. The greenery attracts rain, adds nutrients to the soil, and allows aquifers to be replenished. Sustainable extraction of sand has replaced the destruction of trees for wood and charcoal. The blocks don’t need to be fired, which also reduces use of fuel. Since people are using less wood for fuel, pollution is also reduced.
Energy-saving cook stoves improve indoor air quality, preventing respiratory illness. Sand harvesting and tree seedling cultivation have helped to lift the standard of living for slum-dwellers who make and sell the products. As a result, crime has decreased, and more children are attending school. Additionally, the planting of fruit trees contributes to regional food security.
Other self-help groups are forming to emulate this project’s integrated approach. The project can be easily copied, particularly in other East African regions where trees remain the dominant source of fuel.
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