Youth Speaker entry #84: Daniel Omondi (Kenya)

Today we face the threats of climate change, depleted resources and extreme social disparities globally which lead to poverty, war, and environmental destruction. We believe that change is in our hands. We also believe that sustainability is not an ideal, but the pragmatic imperative of responsible global citizens who care about the future welfare of our planet and its inhabitants. We are a team of 14 young people from Kenya, Germany and the USA empowered by experienced international mentors, and we are acting now to secure a sustainable future for generations tomorrow.

Daniel OmondiNested in the central highlands of Kenya, the Marmanet forest region acts as a microcosm to help us understand the crucial importance of sustainability. Fifty years ago, the forest covered 40,000 hectares. Fast forward half a century, and over 90% of the forest has disappeared. Furthermore the local economy – which boomed through the exploitation of wood for 20 years – has collapsed. Today, the crisis of high unemployment and poverty is compounded by a loss of biodiversity and seasonal drought. This is where our project is based.

Kijani is partnering with key institutions in Kenya that protect and rehabilitate forest ecosystems. We are have signed a lease agreement with the Kenya Forest Service for 100 hectares in Marmanet. We have also partnered with other environmental and community development organizations, such as Springs of Africa, the Mother Earth Network and Tree is Life.

We equip forest-based communities through training in sustainable forest-based businesses, such as bee-keeping, mushroom farming and eco-tourism. We complement this training with sustainability education, teaching communities how basic needs can be met in ways that are environmentally-friendly. We believe that with the correct tools, communities can be empowered to not only realize the ecological benefit of forests, but to also understand their economic benefits. Our goal is to contribute to the economic development of local communities, and to provide incentivizes for communities to take the call for environmental sustainability into their own hands. Our goal is to rehabilitate forest ecosystems in a holistic way, securing the health of vital forests for generations to come.

Through our training, communities are not only empowered, but they join hand-in-hand with us to grow back the forest through an integrated agroforestry model in the rehabilitation area. This way, we not only sustainably empower local communities, but bring lasting change to the local environment through natural forest regeneration.

Text, photo and video are submitted by Daniel Omondi (Kenya) – daniel(at)kijani.co

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as an application by the author, to speak as a youth representative at the World Forestry Congress. Have a look at the other entries too!

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