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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Community Forest Association launches energy saving jikos

By Bob Aston
Community Forest Association (CFA) members on Saturday 28, 2013 officially launched Energy savings Jikos in Sipili location, Laikipia County. The ceremony was graced by Lariak Forest Conservation representatives, Ministry of Agriculture and the local area leaders. The Launch of the energy saving Jikos was an initiative of the group with support from Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF).
All seven Laikipia forests are gazetted Forest Reserves. Each has a Community Forest Association (CFA), registered under the Kenya Forest Service and backed by various stakeholders. The group representing Sipili location was initially started in 2006 but its operations picked up from September 2010. The group currently has one hundred and eighty (180) registered members. One hundred and twenty (120) members are female while the rest are male. Most of the members of the group are between 25-30 years. During the occasion 80 members were issued with two energy saving jikos each.
Elsie from Ministry of Agriculture addressing CFA members

The group whose main aim is to preserve forests around Laikipia County saw it fit to pilot the energy saving jikos as it would help them to achieve their main objective of preserving forests. CFA believes that this initiative will significantly reduce cutting down of trees. They are also teaching farmers to plant trees as well as encouraging those in forests to move out to enable trees to be planted.
The group decided on energy saving jikos as it uses less firewood; it enables the farmer to keep up to 50 chicks using the warmth from the firewood. The model jiko is raised up the ground, it keeps the kitchen clean and constructing the energy saving jiko is easy as it requires locally available products.
Members have been taught on forest conservation as well as attending workshops and seminars in Kakamega and Nyahururu.They have also planted trees in schools, churches and their own homesteads.
Speaking during the event Ministry of Agriculture representative Elsie Kigano talked of importance of the energy saving Jikos as it will reduce cutting down of trees.
“This jikos will result in fewer hazardous emissions than alternatives since most of the volatile material in the original biomass is consumed during the char-making process. The jikos can also last for more than 10 years thus it will be extremely cheap as the materials used to make them are locally available while its benefits are immense.” said Elsie.
CFA member receiving energy saving jikos
CFA location chairman Joseph Ndatho said that, forests and woodlands of Olive and Pencil Cedar once covered much of Laikipia County. Joseph said that forests in Laikipia are currently undergoing massive deforestation but the energy saving jikos will help to reduce that.
“We need to look at all means that can lead to return of forest cover. This is just one of the ways that we are looking at. We have already planted 120,000 trees in forests and 80,000 trees in farmer’s homesteads.” Said Joseph. He added that the long-term sustainability of conservation efforts in Laikipia is linked to the environmental awareness of the youth.
CFA members said that a strong sense of ownership among local people is currently contributing to reforestation in Laikipia County. CDTF has so far trained two people who will be helping in constructing the slab for the jikos.
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