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Supporting livelihoods on Mt Elgon in western Kenya.
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Two of the trustees of the Mount Elgon Foundation have been involved in the water project for a number of years. The Foundation wishes to build on that to complete the work and to develop other projects that improve local people’s livelihoods while preserving their environment.
The Kimuryoony Canal (known as the “furrow” to its original builders) is a hand dug system from the colonial era designed to follow the mountain’s contours and carry water about 10km down to a coffee processing station. The coffee is long gone but what water still flowed fed the largest Kenya Forest Service tree seedling nursery in the area and a local school.
By 2017, the system carried just a fraction of the water it once did and a key reservoir was estimated to be around 90% silted up. Hence the volume of water was insufficient to either grow the number of seedlings required for the area or to serve the local community who suffer water poverty.
The two trustees of the Foundation supported a local social entrepreneur to survey the route of the canal and they then helped arrange funding for the canal’s restoration. This created local employment during the refurbishment as well as a significant increase in seedling production to aid reforestation. A second stage of the project is proposed to take piped water to the local community and increase economic opportunities through more tree planting.
The Foundation’s next project to improve local livelihoods seeks to start addressing the raiding of local farms by elephants. This is leading not only to severe impacts on the livelihoods of the farmers concerned but also to loss of life as the farmers seek to protect their crops.
Elephants are well known to be frightened of bees. They are one of the few deterrents to elephants. How they can be used to protect crops is by means of connecting their hives with ropes around the fields so when elephants approach they cannot enter the fields without disturbing the bees. They then emerge from their hives at which points the elephants typically move off quickly without doing any damage.
There is a tradition of bee keeping by local people since time immemorial on Mt Elgon. Hence this project will not only protect current livelihoods, it will also assist in the creation of additional income for local people through production and sale of honey.
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