Monday, February 14, 2011

Natural Resource Management Project Prepares Communications Structures For Communities In Mt. Elgon & Cherengany Hills

 02. Endebess Bluff, Mt Elgon, Kenya travel photo

The Natural Resource Management Project has engaged consultants to work with communities residing in and around Mount Elgon and Cherengany Hills in order to come up with communication structures for implementing forest conservation activities. Notably, the Ogiek community, which has resided peacefully in Mount Elgon forest, was the first group to be engaged in the process. The process starts by informing the community members about NRMP and its objectives of conserving two critical water towers, namely Mt. Elgon and Cherengany Hills, while improving livelihoods for communities. 

The Ogiek community is recognized as a marginalized and vulnerable group and due to this; the NRMP has been looking into ways to engage the community, while adhering to the requirements that protect minority groups in Kenya. The consultancy brought together all Ogiek villagers within the forest, for discussions, which gave community members an opportunity to air their concerns. After deliberations, community members agreed to vote members to represent them in NRMP matters. A total of 15 committee members were elected, and the members will be required to work with KFS to implement the project. 

According to Mr. Wilson Ombiri, the Zonal Manager Mt. Elgon, “We look forward to working with the elected committee, and I believe exchange of information will be more efficient and transparent unlike the past where we have been dealing with several gatekeepers.” The communication structure will ensure that information is passed from the NRMP through the Zonal Manager and on to the community and vice versa. 

This will reduce distortion of information, which has previously led to misconceptions and suspicions that have hampered implementation of the project. During the meeting, members from other line ministries involved in the project were also involved, including staff from the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Social Services and Wildlife. The same process of creating communication structures will be replicated among the Pokot and Marakwet communities in the coming week.

By Anne Kaari – Communication Officer, NRM

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