Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three Years of Progress in Tsavo West!

I first encountered the Tsavo West Sustainable Development program in 2007 as a volunteer on GVIs Marine and Wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition in Kenya. During my first visit to Tsavo West I met the Kasaani Group for the Protection of Animals, a CBO made up of former wildlife poachers and some of the most generous, inspirational people I have ever met. The experience was nothing short of life changing. As we discussed solutions to Human Wildlife conflict and saw first hand the severe disadvantage the lack of access to water was causing the community, I quickly developed a passion for the capacity building approach to development GVI was taking. I was lucky enough to be offered an internship through which I was given the opportunity to spend more time out in Tsavo West working with Kasaani and the equally inspiring CBOs in Kidong and Mahandikini. I loved every minute of it. At the conclusion of my internship I was asked to stay on as Tsavo West Sustainable Development Officer. I was overjoyed, excited and slightly overwhelmed by the work that lay ahead. Unfortunately, post election violence threw a spanner in the works, GVI was forced to temporarily suspend operations and I was unable to stay in Kenya so I returned home to undertake a Masters in International Development.

Its now three years on and I’m thrilled to be back on the Tsavo West team! I’m astonished by the progress that has been made in by the CBOs and GVIs dedicated volunteers and phenomenal staff since I’ve been gone. The greatest measure of success in community development work is when a community no longer needs outside assistance. This is now the case in Kidong, where the CBO is now generating sufficient income via their Cultural Centre and the handicrafts they produce.

-Kidong Eco-tourism Center-

Mahandikini is not far behind.the recent construction of a grain store and the installation of a Posho Mill should not only provide food security, but income security too. It is amazing to see how the confidence of the CBO in Mahandikini has developed alongside the development of infrastructure. They are no longer looking to GVI for all the answers, but generating their own solutions to problems facing the wider community.

Kasaani now has a water pipeline! Once the tank is installed it will have an immeasurable impact on the day-to-day lives of the community opening up many opportunities for income generation; the community is already overflowing with ideas for the future. They are currently farming some of the healthiest chickens I have ever seen and producing delicious smelling candles, which along with Kidong and Mahandikini’s handicrafts are being sold in upmarket safari lodges.

-Best looking kukus in Kenya-

While there is still a lot of hard work ahead, the future is now bright for each of these three villages. It all comes down to their hard work and genuine commitment to the conservation of wildlife and the betterment of their communities combined with the blood sweat and tears of the volunteers and staff of GVI. It’s an amazing feeling to see something your passionate about working so well!