Kasaani village in Kenya is located right between the borders of the famous Tsavo West National Park and the foothills of the Kilimanjaro on the Tanzanian border. GVI have been working for years with the Kasaani group for the protection of animals which is made up of members of the Kasaani community. Most members are reformed poachers or bush meat traders, who gave up these activities several years ago to look for safer, alternate sources of income.
Several months ago the group became inspired after conversations with Tsavo Pride – a very successful locally operating NGO that sprung from previous GVI efforts – about an orchard. Not much grows in the very dry and dusty grounds around Kaasani and agriculture rarely proves a viable option, but trees are a different matter. With the right knowledge, planning and a lot of physical labour, orchards that are planned and laid out well have a chance to sustain and conquer the heavy winds, the droughts and the blistering sun.
After a briefing and communications with Kasaani, a group of 7 GVI volunteers bundled efforts in preparing a long term plan for the area. The plan included everything from composting to selling fruits and ecological windbreakers to transferring knowledge. With these ideas, the GVI team prepared workshops, with the goal of transferring as much knowledge as possible while leaving enough room for input from the group itself using specific expertises. The workshop covered a participatory mapping exercise, fence construction and maintenance, energy cycles (mulching and composting), the basics on seedlings, nurseries and planting trees, inter-cropping, a farming calendar creation exercise and the basics of water harvesting.
If all goes well, in the middle of the dust right on the Tanzanian border there will be a Kaasani orchard within 10 years from now that grows enough fruits to sell and parents are teaching their children about growing fruit trees, composting and wind fences. Honesty compels me, however, to say that all rarely goes well and 10 years is a long time. But if one approach fails we try another, get-up and try again and again.
GVI has supported and continues to support the Kasaani group and two other groups in the area on their long term objectives to learn new skills for alternate livelihoods. Already, plans for the future include a tree growing education centre, from which people from the group can provide information to the community members and setting up a tree nursery in such a way that seedlings can be sold to community members and other people in the area.
As the late Wangari Maathai, Kenyan founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate says: “It’s really amazing, you plant a seed; it germinates and looking so fragile, in a very short time it becomes a huge tree. It gives you shade and if it’s a fruit tree, it gives you fruit, to build and transform lives.’’
Thanks as always, for your kind and generous support for this program.
All the best