The eco-system surrounding the Ndoto Mountains and The Milgis Lugga ranges from desert to rainforest peaked mountains. This creates many different biomes, each with their own unique habitat, boasting an incredible diversity of species and terrain. This ecosystem plays host to an extensive variety of flora and fauna. It is here that the elephants thrive due to the vast space and natural resources. The area also supports plenty of other key species, ranging from Grevy’s zebra, greater and lesser kudu, the incredibly rare DeBrazza monkey, and many of the large predators including lion, leopard cheetah and African wild dog.
The rainforests located in the in the mountains of Northern Kenya contain some of Kenya’s most intact forests. They are still home to some of the country’s largest and most endangered trees such as East African Sandlewood, Cedar, Podocarpus, Rosewood and Cycads. These forests are essential to the ecosystem, providing the main source of water to everybody and everything living within it, and an all year round food source.
In collaboration with CHASE Africa (Community Health and Sustainable Environment Africa), The Milgis Trust and CHAT (Communities Health Africa Trust) we have been able to reach communities in the Samburu counties with focus to those in the Ndoto Mountains. Here, CHAT and The Milgis Trust are working closely with communities to educate them about sustainable living and the importance of family planning and living within their means of what the land can withhold.
The Community Health Workers hold regular meetings with local chiefs & leaders, representatives from the Government of Kenya and local health facility/care workers to identify the communities that are most in need and how best to reach them. Currently their best strategy is to construct door-to-door awareness of family planning and consultations on any existing health issues with a motor mobile unit. CHASE then plans a 10-12 day camping trip to assess each issue individually.
In the first quarter of 2019 they reached 37 communities in total, 24 new and 13 repeat visits. So far this year 2,044 people were reached by family planning services with the estimated reach of these services expecting to have extended to a total of 4,929. A total of 1,588 women have been recorded to receive long acting reversible contraception including 75 girls who were under the age of 18. Around 500 females also received short-term contraception. Alongside the above over 7,000 condoms have been distributed and HIV counselling and testing has been conducted to over 100 individuals.
A key aim of both the TVCT & CHASE is to advance behaviour changes in paternalistic communities so that female empowerment is better facilitated. Success has been noted here in the number of male participants interacting with family planning information sharing and a noticeable increase in the number of men accompanying women to health facilities.
A young man named Mzee was amongst a line of women at one FP clinic. When he spoke to the team he expressed he would like them to come and meet his wife who was too busy with chores to come to the clinic. They have 4 children and a herd of cattle to attend to but expressed worry that due to drought there was not enough water for human & animal consumption and food had become very expensive. ‘I heard that these people offer medicine that women use in prevention of pregnancy, I would like you to learn more then take it’ he said to his wife. Nashami. Vivian (CHAT) explained different methods of FP and their benefits to which Nashami chose to have a 3-year implant. She was so excited about having more control over their future she treated the team to tea from the little milk they had left.
Some of the most promising feedback from communities was that spacing their children had helped women and their children re-gain good health so the family had more time to engage in economic activities and for the first time consider education plans for their children.
CHASE and their partner organisations are facing huge demand for both information and services in the communities they are working with but are faced with the challenge of stock outs in medical supplies & commodities. They source commodities from the Ministry of Health however often use their own back ups as the ministries provisions are often not adequate nor does the supply meet the demand.
With The TVCT's strong community work approach, we are often asked how we are contributing to the conservation of animals and their habitats. The short answer is that for humans and animals to coexist alongside each other it is crucial that we recognise the importance of leaving space for the wildlife to continue living in their natural habitat, and the increasing lack of space due to huge population growth is now becoming the biggest threat to wildlife in Africa.
This year the population of Africa will reach 1.3 billion, and according to the latest UN projections, it is set to grow to 4.5 billion by the end of the century. With this growth comes a whole host of environmental and social impacts, namely unprecedented levels of land transformation and deforestation. In turn we will also see increasing poverty, declining food security and unemployment, and of course the increasing pressure on the land that is yet to be developed, and currently inhabited by wildlife.
The TVCT's focus on conservation, therefore is more about the alternative strategies that are needed to sustain the coexistence and livelihood of both the local people and wildlife. We think that the best solution is to get to the root of the problem, and this unfortunately goes a lot deeper than just anti poaching alone.
We handpick and fund projects that focus purely on the people surrounding natural areas. Community health workers travel the areas we cover, offering healthcare and family planning options, educating people about the importance of living within their own means and within the means of what the land they live on can sustain, in order to create brighter futures for both local communities and the land they occupy.
The article linked below expresses the terrifying findings of a 40 year study carried out by the University of Gronigen. They concluded that in the last decade alone in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem there has been a 400% increase in the human population, which has resulted in a 75% decrease in the wildlife population!
Dr Colin Beale, from the University of York's Department of Biology stated, "Protected areas across East Africa are under pressure from a wide range of threats. Our work shows that encroachment by people should be considered just as serious a challenge as better known issues such as poaching and climate change."
We are delighted not to be alone in recognising the importance to promote sustainability and reduce the ever increasing encroachment and development on the last remaining natural habitats for wildlife.
Along with other projects already ongoing, the TVCT has teamed up with CHASE Africa and The Maa Trust and will be funding a community project in the Mara, beginning in the Mara this year. Our mission is to warn local communities that the crucial Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is at huge risk from the ever increasing pressure and encroachment on its borders, and help them strive for a more sustainable approach to their futures.