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Kakamega Rainforest

Kakamega Environmental Education Programme

By Jocelyn Murgatroyd

Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya was established to protect the only mid altitude tropical rainforest in Kenya, a remnant of a belt of rainforests once stretching to West Africa, and is famed for its bird and primate species.  Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) is a community based organisation run by volunteers, based in Kakamega Forest.  The GPH visited KEEP on a fact finding mission to investigate their education and community projects and take part in some of their environmental activities, thereby researching possibilities for future collaborations

KEEP2

Their activities include: guiding people around Kakamega Forest; accommodating people in bandas; hosting school groups; running Saturday school; visiting schools; a plant nursery; butterfly farming and building a snake park.  Saturday school covers both conservation and health education.  KEEP also works with the Community Health Volunteer Initiative, some of which are also KEEP guides.  KEEP members also include primate research assistant Ernest Shikanga, who visits schools using drama to spread the message.

We were asked by KEEP to investigate whether communities see the link between KEEP’s community and school work and the protection of the forests.  Specially we were asked to visit the community to investigate the link between Health Programme, KEEP and protecting the environment.

We were also tasked to ascertain whether the community are using energy saving devices such as Jiko stoves. If they are, we want to know what difference has it made.  If they are installed but not used, they wanted to know why not.  If they do not use them, we want to find out if it is the cost of the stove or its installation that is prohibitive.

We plan to go into schools and ask teachers and pupils if they know about the forest, primates and KEEP.  Knowledge might have been gained by visits of schools to KEEP, by children attending Saturday schools, by visits by KEEP members, or Community Health Volunteers to school, or by Ernest’s play to school.  We will ask what they remember about the play.  Also whether their knowledge of the environment is gained from other sources, such as being taught in schools.

Finally we want to investigate what access to media and technology they have, and whether it is sustainable.  We will ask them what is the best way to communicate the conservation method.  We will also ask KEEP staff and Prof Marina Cords (who has been studying Blue Monkeys in Kakamega for 30 years), for their suggestions regarding improvements to the running of KEEP and communicating the environmental message.

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