Forestry Training & Finance for 600 Farms in Kenya

by Drylands Natural Resources Centre
Stones are needed to secure water tanks
Stones are needed to secure water tanks

In the past three months, the DNRC has hosted many visitors, propoagated over 50,000 tree saplings, installed sixteen water tanks, and expanded its training programs with local schools. We now look forward to the October rains, ready to plant the saplings we have grown and to use our new office to start income generation programs.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team visits

4 students from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) led by Professor Dr Mai Phillips, visited from May-July 2014. They were majorly involved in installation of cisterns, working with our farmers and also in collecting data for the DNRC and for Nicholas Syano's PhD research. 

US Rotarians help install 16 water tanks

Rotarians from US came and, working side by side with the community, helped to install 16 cisterns. So far 57 cisterns of 10,000 litres each, have been installed in the community.

Tree nursery: over 50,000 saplings propagated and ready to plant in October

In the beginning of the year we had set a target of propagating 50,000 and we have bypassed it. During the quarter, we continued with propagation of trees and by the end of August we had 51,265 seedlings which are being watered and maintained to attain the required height to be planted in October rains. We also expanded the nursery and got more water storage tanks.We are engaging  more part-time workers to help in the expanded nursery, especially during this May-Oct dry spell. 

Training and follow up with farmers and local schools

The 11 groups we continue to work with and who make a total of 400 households continued to receive trainings both in classroom and also as individuals in their individual farms. DNRC continued to extend her services to three neighboring schools (Lung’u secondary school, Mutwani secondary school and Maiuni primary school) where we continue to work with the schools to establish food forests.Both schools have a total of 681 students and pupils.

Next quarter goals

  • Continue preparing holes for planting in the Oct-Nov rain
  • Expand our kitchen garden in the office
  • Initiate income generation activities for the DNRC, such as greenhouse, chickens and goats in the office

Longer-term goals

  • Power the office through solar energy
  • Build a store for tree products when the funds are available
Jenna from UW-M and farmers help install new tanks
Jenna from UW-M and farmers help install new tanks
Thanks for visiting Jenna and Angelica!
Thanks for visiting Jenna and Angelica!
Visiting Rotarians take a break.
Visiting Rotarians take a break.
51,000 saplings in our nursery are ready to plant
51,000 saplings in our nursery are ready to plant
New Melia Volkensii saplings have thrived so far
New Melia Volkensii saplings have thrived so far
UWSP Students and Community Install Water Tanks
UWSP Students and Community Install Water Tanks

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I hope you're well and enjoying the summer! In this report I'd like to talk to you about our work with a partner NGO, the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya (PRI-Kenya), and share some pictures from a 4-day course we held with them at our new office.

On June 5th-9th the DNRC hosted a group of Kenyan and American students (from the University of Wisconsin - Steven's Point) as part of a Permaculture Design course hosted by John Sheffy of the University of Wisconisn and PRI-Kenya.

PRI-Kenya is an organization dedicated to promoting permaculture research and practice across Kenya. It was co-founded by our Executive Director Nicholas Syano, who now chairs the board of the organization. The DNRC works closely with PRI-Kenya to gather and share useful learnings across NGO and community projects across Kenya. Please check out the links below to learn more about the organization.

John and his students joined the DNRC to learn about our seed propogation techniques, to see how we manage our nursery, install a water cistern, and to meet with some of our farmers. After a successful water cistern installation, they shared a celebratory lunch with hundreds of new friends, who treated them to some authentic Kamba dancing!

Outside of this, the DNRC has continued its work on the ground, and we are working hard on new efforts to increase our melia and moringa production, including a new partnership with Kuli Kuli Inc. ,which we will announce in July. 

We are still actively fundraising to equip our new office, install solid accounting and IT systems, and support our growing staff. If you have any money or time to spare, please consider donating or sharing our work with friends and family. 

Thank you again for your ongoing support and interest. It really is much appreciated.


Everyone Gathers For Lunch Outside Our New Office
Everyone Gathers For Lunch Outside Our New Office
Massive Attendance Shows How Our Program Has Grown
Massive Attendance Shows How Our Program Has Grown
Post-Lunch Entertainment, Kamba-Style!
Post-Lunch Entertainment, Kamba-Style!


DNRC Office Almost Finished
DNRC Office Almost Finished



A. Announcing the First DNRC Office!

From 2007 until this month, the DNRC and its staff operated out of Nicholas Syano’s house and remote locations. Now, we finally have our own land and office building. This is a huge step forward for the DNRC, and our staff and the local community could not be happier. Our staff can now work more productively, and we can more easily host members of the community, academic researchers, and other visitors. The office will enable us to expand our impact, improve our operations, and maintain better communications with the local community.

The office was constructed with the financial and legal support of our partner organization, CCR, and with the help of many community members. It will be ready for use at the end of March.

Although the basic facility is now complete, we still need to furnish the office, install solar panels to power computers and lights, and install a water cistern to harvest more water for our tree nursery. 

Cash of in-kind donations for these furnishings would be much appreciated - if you would like to donate a specific item, please write to Daniel Pike at


B. Training and Outreach Activities: 400 Farmers Visited and Trained

During this quarter, the 400 farmers working with DNRC were visited and trained in their individual farms on care and management of their trees. This was done by our training and outreach person, Fedelis Nzisa Charles. Fedelis also trained them on the application of biopesticides. In Feb. 2014, Nicholas Syano together with the other DNRC staff held a joint training of all the members at Maiuni Primary school.


C. Tree Nursery Activities: On Target For 50,000 Seedlings This Year

During the quarter, the nursery team lead by Lucas Munyao was able to propagate 14,480 different tree species and potted 32,000 pots for transferring the saplings. This is on target to achieve 50,000 seedlings during the year. Other activities included watering the seedlings and preparing nursery materials like soil gathering and mixing with manure.


D. Focus for Q2 2014: Harvesting and Selling Tree Products

1. Finishing, furnishing and  moving in to the new office

2. Continued seed propagation in the tree nursery

3. Reaching and training the 400 farmers now working with DNRC

4. Design and preparation for our first tree harvest in late 2014. (By harvesting high-value tree products in an environmentally sustainable manner, we aim to generate significant revenue for the DNRC and over two hundred member farmers)

5. Grant applications and fundraising to support harvest design and new monitoring and evaluation teams

DNRC Staff Excited About Their New Office
DNRC Staff Excited About Their New Office
Joint Training for Farmers
Joint Training for Farmers
Nicholas Syano
Nicholas Syano's Tree Care and Management Training
Mutwani Secondary School Students
Mutwani Secondary School Students' Food Forest

Dear Friends, Family, and Supporters,

2013 has been a year of healthy growth and improvement for the DNRC.

We thank you for your continued support, and ask you to help us to continue growing in 2014. As the year comes to an end, please consider making a recurring donation yourself, and share our project with friends, family, and employers who might also like to support our work.

Our results for 2013:

  • Increased the number of subsistence farmer-families we serve from 300 to 400.
  • Increased the capacity of our tree sapling nursery, which now produces 42,000 new saplings per rainy season, over a wider range of tree and plant species.
  • Installed 33 water cisterns - providing clean, potable water to 33 families - though our partnership with the Rotary Club.
  • Established food forests (a woodland ecosystem with edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals) at five local primary and secondary schools (see attached picture).
  • Hosted a five-day field course in permaculture, in partnership with Nyambani Village (
  • Hosted visitors and interns from GlobalGiving, the University of Wisconsin, and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
  • Expanded our staff, welcoming Fedelis as Outreach and Training Manager.

Our goals for 2014:

  • Complete construction of our new office by March 1st.
  • Expand nursery capacity to 50,000 saplings/season.
  • Continue to build our partnerships with Nyumbani, the Rotary Club, and thre University of Wisconsin.
  • Introduce effective income generation programs for our 400 farmers, many of whom now have maturing, 5-year old woodlots that they can begin to sustainably harvest for fuel, fruit, and medicine.

I attach a field report from Executive Director Nicholas Syano, which provides a more detailed look at our activities and accomplishments in the last three months. One of the highlights was our end of year party, in which hundreds of farmers and their families, as well as local teachers, government officials, and community members, ate, danced, and celebrated together, proud of the work they are doing together to restore their ecosystem and build their community.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, or requests at any time now or in the future - 

Thank you again for your support and best wishes for the holidays and the year ahead,

Daniel Pike

Project Manager 
Drylands Natural Resources Center

It Takes A Village To Install A Cistern
It Takes A Village To Install A Cistern

Project overview: 33 cisterns providing 476 people with clean water

In this report, we’d like to share the progress and results of a complementary clean water side-project that the DNRC has built up over the last few years with committed and generous partners based in Wisconsin. Using plastic water cisterns, hundreds of the families we serve in Mauni now enjoy a secure, long-term source of clean, safe water.

In September 2010, Wisconsin Rapids Sunrise Rotary donated the first 10,000 liter cistern, for Nicholas Syano and the DNRC to use in Mauni. Joanne Marshall, Sue Siewert, Gary Dreier and Kathy Schommer first introduced us to the Sunrise Rotary Club, and we continue to work together.

By the end of August 2013, 33 cisterns had been installed for 33 families in the community, directly benefiting 576 members of the Mauni community (79 women, 74 men, and 433 children.)

The following partners have come on board and are committed to expanding this program: Center for Community Regeneration (CCR), Wisconsin Rapids Sunrise Rotary Club, Wisconsin Rapids Noon Rotary Club, Greater Portage Rotary Club, Green Bay Rotary Club, the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point Permaculture group (led by John Sheffy and Dr Holly), and the Denver Company Pharmacy Group.

Project goals: 1) Provide clean, plentiful water for every family; 2) Reduce deforestation and reinforce the DNRC reforestation program

This project aims to establish a rainwater harvesting system for every family in Maiuni, to provide residents with water for drinking, cooking, and garden use, and to reduce firewood consumption for boiling water. Gutters are installed around the roof of each house and a 10,000 litre cistern is put in place to catch rain water. (See picture below).

The whole community is involved in installing the cistern by bringing gravel, sand, and water and physically helping to build the cistern base and installation. Involving the whole community creates a sense of community and ownership.

To ensure transparency and fairness in how each new cistern is distributed, the names of DNRC program participants with well-cultivated woodlots are put in a hat, and a child draws a name at random. This encourages people to continue planting and properly cultivating trees.

Project impact: proven economic, environmental, health, and social benefits

Below is the river just after the rains. 200 families without cisterns rely on this single river for all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. They must walk long distances to bring water home; the water itself is not safe to drink. People must burn scarce firewood to make the water potable. When people don’t have firewood to boil water with, they drink the water directly. As a result, cases of typhoid and other water-borne illnesses are far too common.

Those with cisterns have fresh clean water just by their door step and don’t have to spend their valuable time walking long distance to fetch water. They also don’t have to resort to burning scarce reserves of firewood to boil unsafe water. For those with cisterns, no cases of water-borne illness have been recorded.

The cisterns renforce the DNRC's reforestation and agroforestry program in two ways: 1) reduce the time and labour burden on families', who can spend more time and effort on farming, working, studying, or other activities; 2) reducing the need to burn firewood, which undermines the sustainable forestry pratices our partner families are learning.

With each donated cistern the community installs together, the sense of community solidarity and trust grows. As more members in the community plant trees and grasses, seasonal rivers become permanent and springs will return, ensuring more water for the whole community. The community will have more trees to sustainably harvest for products such as timber, green charcoal, and food, increasing their income. Feedback loops are being diverted from negative to positive. A community is being regenerated, in ways that we think are replicable to communities around the world.

Installed Cistern: Example 1
Installed Cistern: Example 1
Cistern In Place: Example 2
Cistern In Place: Example 2
Cistern In Place: Example 3
Cistern In Place: Example 3
Pipe Flow From Rooftop to Tank
Pipe Flow From Rooftop to Tank
Enjoying Clean Water!
Enjoying Clean Water!
Waani River After The Rains...
Waani River After The Rains...

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Organization Information

Drylands Natural Resources Centre

Location: Nairobi - Kenya
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Nicholas Syano
Nairobi, Kenya
$40,114 raised of $60,000 goal
456 donations
$19,886 to go
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