The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has continued to undertake empowerment initiatives with local communities in Lamu county to conserve the natural habitat in the ongoing Multi-Agency Field Training Exercise in which various civil-military cooperation activities have been identified and are being implemented.
Through local engagements, KFS at Makowe ecosystem conservators office has through its efforts, employed workers and scouts mostly women and youth to achieve its mandate of forestry development, conservation and protection.
This initiative has in turn improved the livelihood of the locals while conserving the environment.
Mama Margaret Nyambura, one of the casual workers at the centre, said that KFS engagement had changed her life, “This project has helped us, especially women and youth, to earn a living. We can now pay school fees for our children and put food on the table,” she said.
Through KFS efforts, many youth groups have been employed among them, Kililana Youth group as scouts who are tasked with rehabilitation, conservation and protection of the mangrove forest in the area.
Mr. Evans Maneno Alwena, the Ecosystem Conservator in Lamu County, emphasised on the importance of the conservancy noting that the project had elevated vulnerable people in the society while conserving the environment.
“KFS engagement with the local community and other stakeholders has helped in preserving vital trees such as the mangrove trees. Through this project locals have been empowered especially the youth, who would have instead been lured into vices,” said Mr. Alwena.
Yussuf Baishe, a 22 year old youth and member of Kililana Youth Group also narrated how he was unable to proceed to the next level of education owing to lack of fees but was glad to be gainfully employed through KFS efforts.
He said, “I am extremely happy for this opportunity because I was jobless. Now I can help myself, my family and the community at large. I thank KFS efforts for coming up with such initiatives because they have given us an opportunity to develop ourselves as youths.”
The workers are involved in production of seedlings, nurturing of plants and overall development of trees. Lamu county is home to 60% of mangrove forest countrywide and trees are known for their medicinal value, use in the construction industry and as effective breeding grounds for fish and other marine life.
Kenya Forest Service is part of the multi agency team operating under Operation Amani Boni (OAB), to rid the Boni enclave of Al Shabaab terrorists and restore normalcy.
This comes in the backdrop of an ongoing Multi-Agency Field Training Exercise in the counties of Garrisa, Tana River and Lamu