Support our Radio 4 Appeal, presented by Benjamin Zephaniah, in aid of tree planting in Kenya. The 20 Million Trees Campaign aims to restore Mount Kenya Forest and improve the livelihoods of forest adjacent households.
Anastacia is a 45-year-old farmer and mother from Kambevo village, on Mount Kenya. She lives on a small piece of land where she produces tea, keeps a cow and goats, and grows food crops and vegetables. Since her husband died five years ago, Anastacia has been responsible for earning the money to support her family.
Like most small-scale farmers, Anastacia’s life is hard work. Her main source of income somes from a small tea plantation. She wakes early in the morning to cook and prepare her children to go to school. Once she has milked her animals and taken the milk to be sold, she may work for five hours picking tea and carry what she harvests to a tea-buying centre.
In the past, Anastacia often needed to go to the forest in the evening, to gather fodder for her animals and firewood for cooking. The forest is 2km up a mountain track and Anastacia had to carry what she found back home on foot. Unfortunately, most subsistence farmers in Anastacia’s region are dependent on the forest for materials in this way.
But back in 2002, Anastacia joined a local self-help group, Wamiti Women (which means “Women of the Trees”). When her husband died and she found herself struggling to pay for her children’s education, and it was this group which helped her to overcome her difficulties.
Wamiti Women run a community tree nursery, where they raise seedlings for sale, for reforestation, and for planting on farms. Each rainy season, supported by ITF’s partner Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation (MKEC), the group join hundreds of others to plant thousands of seedlings to restore Mount Kenya Forest. These community members are taking responsibility for protecting the forest that gives them firewood, fodder, medicine and food, and regulates the local climate and freshwater resources.
By coming together with other women facing similar challenges, Anastacia has been able to find common strength and support. She gains an income from selling seedlings, and has acquired shares in the group’s savings scheme allowing her to take out small loans for items like school books and uniforms. One such loan will enable her daughter Silvia (pictured above) to go to university to study to be a teacher.
Just as importantly, with seedlings from the nursery Anastacia has been able to plant many agroforestry trees on her farm. Fruit trees such as macadamia nuts, tree tomatoes and grafted avocadoes produce reliable harvests of fruit which fetch a good price at market, helping feed her family. And with other species providing firewood and branches for animal fodder, Anastacia no longer has to travel to the forest every day.
Can you help us to support more women like Anastacia? Your support will restore Kenya's forests and improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers across Kenya.