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New FFFS Established in North Rift Conservancy

The IARME (Innovative Approaches towards Rehabilitating Mau Ecosystems) Project has started new Farmer Field Schools in its second Component which is “improving livelihoods” of the communities that are adjacent to forests in the Northern Mau. This is done through engaging them in innovative ways by training them on ways of income generating projects that are best suited for the area they live in, especially in agriculture, which in turn will limit dependency of these populations on destructive resource extraction from forests and catchments.

 


The project is funded by the European Union and UNEP is the chosen facilitator of the funds in conjunction with ICS which leads in conservation activities in Mau. As WWF has been on the ground longer, it is in this capacity that it mediates between the government organizations involved and the community it their conservation efforts. The KFS is the government organization that conserves the forests that it is best suited to deal with the communities surrounding it.

During a recent backstopping visit of Uasin Gishu and Kericho by KFS officers who included Head of IARME, Mr. Chege and other officers in Extension Services, it was noted that the Farmer Field Schools which were started recently had taken off well and were catching on the concept of FFS. These are “schools without walls” where farmers are encouraged to self teach and correct each other and a “facilitator”  who is a KFS Forester then helps where necessary. It involves AESA Taking (Agro-Ecosystem Analysis), Group Dynamics (singing, dancing, storytelling, jokes) to create harmony and improve confidence, to mention but a few. The FFFS programme is standard in all Schools with rules and regulations set up by the groups to govern behavior during their meeting and the programme timetable is strictly followed as all the activities take just 3 hours  and its only once a week. The schools are participatory and everyone is expected to play a role during the meetings.

Though the FFS had taken off well, a few challenges that faced some of schools were addressed and dealt with during the wrap-up meeting held in the County Coordinator’s office Uasin Gishu. The political temperature that is in the country owing to the fact that elections are around the corner and that most of the members of the FFS are from different ethnic backgrounds, the forum is a welcome boost of encouraging the farmers to live in harmony and togetherness.

It is hoped that the schools will continue long after the farmers graduate after 52 weeks of attendance and that it was a start of a prosperous future ahead for the farmers, a way for the government and the sponsors to use “innovative approaches” to delve further and help more communities that used to rely on forests for livelihoods which resulted in destruction through logging and encroachment of forest lands to think “outside the box”, improve their livelihoods and embrace forest conservation.

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