Beyond One Billion, a Community-Based Organization in Kenya that Addresses Issues of Climate Change and Environmental Degradation in the Forest


Human Wrongs Watch

From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow – How planting trees is helping women in Kenya.

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Njoro is an agricultural area on the edge of the Rift Valley in Kenya. It is home to Charity Kathambi Chepkwony, a forest and farm producer who is also the first woman elected to Kenya’s parliament for the Njoro Constituency in Nakuru County. She is also working with FAO to encourage others in her community, particularly women, to plant trees and grow new livelihoods.

2 May 2019 (FAO)* — Women are the backbone of rural economies, particularly in Africa, but they are much less likely to be involved in the decision-making.

One woman debunking that trend is Charity Kathambi Chepkwony. A forest and farm producer, she is also the first woman elected to Kenya’s parliament for the Njoro Constituency in Nakuru County, about 170 kilometres north-west of the capital Nairobi.

“I had to fight against male opponents. I was told that women shouldn’t have the right to be in these leading positions, but I continued to be focused and promoted my ideas,” Charity said. “I had many intimidations, but I could not let them put me off. By preaching peace and becoming the voice of the community they realized that a woman could take the lead”.

Njoro is an agricultural area on the edge of the Rift Valley, and the constituency partly covers Mau forest, a large mountainous forest that is Kenya’s largest water catchment and a source of timber, food and jobs for many members of the local community. It has also been subject to illegal logging and degradation.

“I had to fight against male opponents. I was told that women shouldn’t have the right to be in these leading positions, but I continued to be focused and promoted my ideas”.  Charity in her role as Deputy Secretary for the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association ©Rebecca Nduku
“I had to fight against male opponents. I was told that women shouldn’t have the right to be in these leading positions, but I continued to be focused and promoted my ideas”.  Charity planting trees in Njoro Constituency. ©Victor Korir
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Beyond One Billion

Charity leads a community-based organization, Beyond One Billion that addresses issues of climate change and environmental degradation in the forest and more broadly in her community.

It has a majority of women participants and works closely with the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) which is a partnership between FAO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and AgriCord, and is hosted at FAO.

Together, these organizations are helping producers – especially women – to develop forest and farm enterprises through all stages of production, from seedlings and nurseries to tree planting, sustainable charcoal production, timber and other forest and farm products.

“Through Beyond One Billion, we were able to start tree nurseries and fruit trees. Thanks to that, and to training supported by FFF, many families have better livelihoods by selling the food products from the trees,” Charity said.

“Farmers’ organizations such as Beyond One Billion offer great potential in terms of female farmers’ capacity-development, participation in decision-making, protection of rights and access to resources,” said FAO’s Jeffrey Campbell, the Forest and Farm Facility Manager.

The Forest and Farm Facility hosted at FAO is helping producers – especially women – to develop forest and farm enterprises through all stages of production, from seedlings and nurseries to tree planting, sustainable charcoal production, timber and other forest and farm products. ©FAO/Daniel Hayduk

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Working with FAO

The Forest and Farm Facility started working with 12 small forest and farm producer organizations in Kenya in 2014. At the outset, the producers’ level of organization and participation in different value chains was low and access to technical or business development service providers was non-existent.

Over three years, FAO together with WeEffect, the Kenya Forest Service, and the Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya supported the organizations to reach more producers and grow their membership by 800 percent, indirectly benefiting about 20 000 people.

“The FFF has done great work for us. They have taken care of all the capacity building on collective marketing of tree seedlings. Before, we were not aware of many things. Now we are able to professionally collect seeds and know how to market. We are also more aware of how to conserve the forests,” Charity said.

The community has also been very active and appreciative of Charity’s work. Local women are engaging now, more than ever, in forest and farming activities.

“When women do things they are committed and passionate about reaching their ultimate goals. They should be empowered and be given the right to make decisions,” she adds.

Charity will bring this message to an event in Brussels on 6 June, Forestry and Farming – A Women’s Business, hosted by FAO’s Forest and Farm Facility and AgriCord. The event is part of the European Development Days (EDD) hosted by the European Commission.

“The EDD will be an important meeting to tell one-another that women should be included in the decision making and that governments and donors should support and invest in women,” Charity said.

Charity’s final message to women of all ages and nationalities is to take part in forest conservation and to plant and nurture trees that will flourish for future generations.

*SOURCE: FAO. Go to ORIGINAL.

Learn more:

2019 Human Wrongs Watch

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