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Most Kenyans, especially the majority poor rely almost exclusively on land and natural resources,  such as forests, water, wildlife, fisheries, dry lands, wetlands and minerals – for sustenance. Apart from Agriculture which sustains over 80% of Kenyans, other livelihood activities like pastoralism, fishing, tourism and processing natural resources for sale are entirely dependent on natural resources

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From the 12th to the 13th of October 2022, the ILEG Siaya office hosted Teresa Muthoni and Eunice Dushime from the One Tree Planted and World Resources Institute (WRI)respectively. These two institutions play key roles in implementing the AFR100 initiative in Africa. While WRI is the managing partner for AFR100, One Tree Planted assists organizations financed by AFR100 to implement impactful restoration projects. The purpose of their visit was thus to assess the progress and impact of the Siaya Landscapes Restoration project  

The visitors had a short meeting with our Siaya office staff, Vincent Obondo, Cletus Lunalo, and John Miyoyo . They were briefed on the project status and our impact in the county. Specifically, the ILEG team highlighted key successes of planting 75,530 tree seedlings at Got Abiero, River Nyandiwa, and Lake Kanyaboli. The team also highlighted the impacts of the project in creating 95 job opportunities in the county as well as mainstreaming gender equality.

The team then called on the County Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Siaya County Government. Here the visitors were introduced to the Chief Officer for the department as well as the Directors for Environment and Water. The Director for Environment, who has been a key stakeholder in the implementation of the project expounded on the impact of the project in catalyzing the restoration of degraded and forgotten hills in the County by community-based organizations. The Chief Officer for the Department underscored the need for accelerating the delivery of finance to other Community-Based Organizations in the county to accelerate the restoration of these hills and landscapes. Teresa Muthoni noted that there is a need for capacity training on proposal writing to ensure these organizations, and more especially, women-led organizations can make quality proposals for their projects. The team then gave words of encouragement to representatives of these CBOs who were also attending a training workshop by the Department.

Over the two days, the team visited Got Abiero, Lake Kanyaboli, and River Nyandhiwa. The Deputy Ecosystem Conservator, Siaya County accompanied the team during the visits to the sites. At Got Abiero the team met up with the Chairperson of the Got Abiero Community Forest Association and two community members who guided the visitors during the visit to the Chief’s Camp and the Got Abiero hill. The community members explained the challenges facing the hill such as illegal logging, charcoal burning, and livestock grazing. They also explained how the project was assisting them in protecting the forest through supporting community patrols and restoration. As a result, these drivers of degradation had significantly reduced in intensity. At the hill the visitors surveyed sections of the hill where enrichment planting of indigenous species was being done. The visitors were impressed with the work done despite the dry environment, rocky outcrops, and steep slope.   

At Kanyaboli the visitors were taken through our tree nursery. Here they saw the improvements we had implemented to improve the quantity and quality of tree seedlings. They saw our expertise in propagating indigenous and exotic tree species such as Tamarindus indica, Croton megarlocarpus, Markhamia lutea, and bamboo amongst others. They also witnessed our superior grafted fruit tree seedlings that we give to schools and communities along our sites for agroforestry and improved nutritional outcomes. Our staff explained the aspirations of ILEG to have the nursery serve as a demo site for sustainable land practices to the community. To demonstrate the power of community collaborations, the visitors were taken through private land where we have partnered with private landholders to control soil erosion and restore the land using agroforestry. The team also visited the woodlot we are making for Mr.Ochanda, a person living with a disability in the area. Through the project, Mr.Ochanda would be supported to start honey production to supplement his income. Being an early adopter of the project, his farm would also serve as a way of highlighting the need for restoration to the rest of the community. The team finalized the visit to Kanyaboli by visiting  Ndai Primary School. Here the visitors saw healthy pawpaw plants that were given to the schools as part of the project.

At River Nyandiwa, the team surveyed the restoration strip. Here they observed the erosion of the riverbank and how it was impacting the adjacent farmlands. They also saw how the degradation of the riparian vegetation was contributing to this problem. We also took them through our restoration approach that targets the planting of bamboo along the riverbank. Additionally, they also saw how the planting of indigenous tree species such as Markhamia lutea, and Acacia polycantha amongst others would assist in the restoration of the riparian vegetation. Lastly, we showed them how our partnerships with the landowners to facilitate crop production and the nurturing of the planted tree seedlings were bearing fruit.

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