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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kakamega Environmental Education Program

KEEPs eco-tourism Bandas

The Eco-lodge bandas are a vital aspect of KEEP’s efforts to improve conservation through creating alternative income-generating activities and employment opportunities for the local people from Isicheno and surrounding villages. Most people in this area are subsistence farming, and have struggled to find ways to make supplemental income. In the past, many people have earned their incomes by cutting down trees to make charcoal or by collecting fallen logs for firewood. The KEEP bandas provide many ways for the community to get involved and earn small incomes through tourism, such as buying products through the Curio Shop and employment at the bandas. The bandas are currently working on more programs to involve the broader community with the village elders and the Women’s Group, such as guided village tours, cooking classes, and soapstone carving lessons.
KEEPs Butterfly project 

Guests are already able to learn from local guides, eat food cooked traditionally by young men and women
from the village, and watch traditional Luhya dancing and storytelling in the evenings for entertainment. The experience is truly genuine and exciting, and we hope to make the experience even more culturally educational for visitors and tourists.

Solomon Miheso reflects on the impact of tourism on the community: “Tourists help education to grow in the community, especially the education of learning English. It creates a demand to know English, especially in the children, who want to talk with the tourists. It creates an urge to learn more and get involved. Tourism brings in the money that is needed to supplement people’s lives with extra income, and it encourages them to engage in alternative lifestyles to destroying the forest.”

Alternative charcoal briquettes, made by the women's group 
The most recent initiatives undertaken by KEEP and the staff and volunteers at the Ecolodge Bandas is to promote marketing techniques to increase the number of guests at the bandas as well as the promotion of the community development projects. We are just about to launch our first newsletter and re-vamp the website, and we are also distributing brochures to Kisumu and other major areas to increase visitor awareness.

GVI Volunteers provide the necessary technical advice and support to get these initiatives off the ground. Creating templates for the brochures and newsletter, as well as offering improvements to the website gives the members of KEEP hope that their business will continue to grow, and the community and forest will be positively affected by that group. Working with the staff to improve their computer skills will help to make these projects sustainable, as the members themselves will be able to continue the newsletter every month.

To read more about GVI’s involvement with KEEP please visit


KEEPs Office and tree nursery
And to follow up on the development of KEEP, please visit www.keep-kakamega.or.ke
A Guereza Colobus of Kakamega rainforest