|Participants of the workshop in a group photo|
A training workshop to sensitize representatives of the Sengwer and Ogiek communities of Cherengany Hills and Mt.Elgon respectively was conducted by the Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP) in April in Eldoret North Rift Conservancy.
A Social Assessment Report that was done in June 2010 highlighted the historical background of the marginalized groups living within the surrounding areas of the Cherengany Hills and Mount Elgon forests and identified the two communities as especially vulnerable.
One of the recommendations of the report was that the communities had no organized structures for engaging with NRMP which seeks to improve livelihoods through sustainable management of the natural resources including the restoration of natural forests. As a result the committees were formed to act as a communication channel between project and the communities.
The formation of the structures was led consultants and involved a process of awareness creation intended at enlightening communities on the objectives and mandate of the project and why it was necessary to elect community representatives to form the committees.
Community mobilization was done through various government offices that included Provincial Administration, Gender and Social Services and Kenya Forest Service, It aimed at telling the community about NRMP and its benefits to the community. The election process was a democratic one, where locals would propose names as they all seconded.
After the training the Ogiek committee members had another workshop which was held in Kitale later on in April whose aim was to develop a prototype action plan for implementation of livelihood support activities for vulnerable and marginalized groups. The activities will ensure the groups benefit from the forest while conserving it.
During both trainings World Bank representatives talked about the organization’s role and mandate in NRMP which is co-unded by the government of Kenya in a programme that will assist the government to better manage water and forest resources.
The forestry component which is being executed by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) enables community participation in the forestry sector, institutional reforms as well as enabling community participation in forest management.
The workshop was addressed by among others the Senior Deputy Director for KFS Mr. Emilio Mugo, the Deputy Director for Extension Services Mrs. Monicah Kalenda and the Project Coordinator Mr. Yakhama Inganji among others. The training was officially closed by the Deputy Director for Natural Forest Conservation and Management Mr. Esau Omollo.
Story and picture by Emmah Nerima