Rising temperatures, uncertain rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are the notable effects of climate change in Kenya. Many rivers are drying up or becoming seasonal because their sources upstream have been compromised. This is the case of many small rivers in Meru County that sustain livelihoods in semi-arid areas downstream.
These glaring threats to livelihoods inspired the North Imenti women to form the Kiamiriru Mpuri Environmental Conservation group, which now has 38 active members, out of which 12 are men, 20 are women, and 6 are youth. Its main goal was to empower its members and community to adapt to climate changes through conservation and livelihood diversification initiatives around North Imenti.
In Meru County, the group leads conversations and actions on climate change mitigation and adaptation through lobbying, partnerships and focused initiatives around farm forestry. These initiatives include water sources rehabilitation and conservation initiatives, implementation of household income-generating activities and organisational capacity development.
To achieve this the group joined the Meru Community Forest Association and has also worked closely with Meru County Government. In an aggressive drive to conserve rivers and groundwater sources, the Meru County Government supported the group to germinate about 70,000 giant bamboo seedlings across their various group tree nurseries. The plan is to plant big bamboo seedlings along riverbanks and water catchment areas to help conserve the ecosystem and prevent silting.
The Groups Chairperson is excited to reveal more of what they have achieved in recent years.
“So far, Kiamiriru Mpuri Environment and Conservation Group has rehabilitated 20 water catchment areas destroyed and planted about 20,000 giant bamboo trees. We have also participated in the forest percentage cover action plan by giving about three thousand trees to various schools within Meru County.” Says Zippora Matumbi, the group’s chairperson.
However, it is worthy to note that conservation efforts without the empowerment of members diversify their livelihoods. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2020 and 2021 supported the group to improve their products and business capacity for tree seedlings, fruit trees and vegetable value chains. This support is in the form of a grant of Ksh. 500,000 enabled the group members to expand their tree nurseries, venture into vegetables and fruit farming and improve their business capabilities
“The financial support from FAO has changed our group because apart from conservation, we are gaining lots of business and financial skills that our members have been lacking. We are now more concerned with our group’s sustainability and the livelihoods of our members.” Matumbi adds
The group is also a member of the Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya, a national umbrella association promoting farm forestry. This has helped Kiamiriru Mpuri Environmental Conservation Group establish beneficial linkages and partnerships.