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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Improving welfare of Yiaku community through sustainable livelihoods

By Felister Mparei
The Mukogodo Forest in Laikipia North Sub County is one of the major indigenous forests in Kenya covering 74,000 acres and providing a life line to 30,000 plus Yiaku community members. The community has always relied on the forest for their livelihood but rise in population and environmental degradation has affected their single source of livelihood.
In order to uplift the livelihood of Yiaku Community, some community members registered Yiaku Laikipiak Trust to champion the interest of Yiaku community.
Yiaku Laikipiak Trust has been striving to see the realization of sustainable livelihoods through efficient and effective resource management and broadening of equal democratic space for participation of all persons.
The CBO realized that due to the different roles of women, men and young people in the households their needs and uses of the natural resources differ. When these resources are degraded, the impacts are gender-differentiated with the women and girls bearing the brunt especially if springs and water catchments are destroyed.
Women and girls have been observed walking for mile on end in search of water during drought seasons in Mukogodo thereby affecting other activities like education for girls and home chores for mothers.
Men are forced to move deeper into Mukogodo forest when the pasture grounds get depleted due to overstocking and drought. This leads to destruction of the forest and its water catchments making the situation worse and recurrent. As a result, pastoralists suffer huge losses due to livestock deaths.
When the economy plummets, young men turn to unsustainable activities like charcoal burning and wild harvesting of medicinal herbs.
The CBO has been supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through its Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program (SGP) in helping the community to adapt Sustainable Land Management (SLM) as a means of securing improved livelihoods which will in turn ease pressure on Mukogondo Forest.
The CBO believes that SLM coupled with a shift from over reliance on natural resource based livelihoods and embracing alternatives can ensure improved livelihoods of the community which will in turn ease pressure on Mukogodo forest and also contribute to global climate change mitigation.
Through the UNDP GEF SGP support, the CBO has constructed a low cost training centre at the forest while three women groups have been capacity built in improved livelihood skills and SLM.
The women groups have also been capacity built in modern bead work designs, packaging, business skills, water harvesting technologies, kitchen gardening, construction and use of energy saving jikos and book keeping.
Yiaku Laikipiak Trust has also trained the women groups in modern ranch management and breeding methods. This has helped to regulate livestock numbers and the grazing patterns leading to a sustainable natural resource utilization and management.
Some of the projects that Yiaku Laikipiak Trust has successfully implemented include; women land rights advocacy project with financial support of the Netherlands Centre for indigenous, people, construction of a rock water catchment tank with support from UNESCO, participatory 3 Dimensional model and mapping (P3DMM) with financial support of IPACC and Shalinry-Finland and construction of a dam with support of Alborzgot Denmark and an anti FGM project with support of Mellemfolkligt Sanwirke-Kenya (MS-Kenya).
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