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Hope in Crops
Media Organization:Monthly Developments Magazine
Date of Publication:Wednesday, February 22, 2012
UUSC's Associate for Environmental Justice Rachel Ordu Dan-Harry has written an article highlighting the Hope in Crops environmental-restoration and food-security program in the Kakamega region of Kenya. It appears in the "Projects" section of Monthly Developments Magazine.
By Rachel Ordu Dan-Harry
Climate change has led to unpredictable weather patterns and unreliable rainfall in Kenya, resulting in reduced yields and income for small farmers. In addition, small rivers relied upon for domestic consumption and farming are drying up. Increasing reliance on trees for firewood fodder and income also exacerbates the situation.
But in the Kakamega district of Kenya, members of the grassroots SoilFarm Multi-Culture Group (SFMG) have organized the Hope in Crops Project (HIC) to confront these challenges by providing food security and sustainable livelihoods and protect Kenya's last remaining rain forest. Having made the connection between extreme poverty and deforestation, HIC provides alternatives rooted in the principles of organic farming and indigenous tree planting. While the project is all-inclusive, it particularly emphasizes assisting children and women who walk long distances to collect firewood from the rainforest at the expense of schooling and other productive activities.
Through work with schools and farmers, the HIC project is bringing back green spaces and building a new generation of environmentalists: students who write songs, poems and drama about environmental conservation, uphold the principles of organic agriculture, and grow up with these values. It is also helping farmers, particularly women, increase the yields from their farms, reduce poverty and deal with changing weather patterns.
HIC participants plant over 100,000 trees each year; and over the past five years the project has benefited more than 10,000 Kenyan students in 30 schools.
HIC engages elementary school children though planting trees and food together at their schools and family farms. Students learn that indigenous trees help restore the soil's fertility, prevent erosion and separate carbon from the soil, while organic crops retain moisture in the soil. Food grown at the schools provides lunch for the students and take-homes for HIV orphans. It also benefits the women as indigenous trees planted on their farms provide a ready source firewood and save them time while also protecting the trees of the rainforest. "We are now putting our land into good use," said Frieda, an HIC beneficiary. "The income we make from planting helps us to buy items that our children need for school."
HIC also works with communities to plant indigenous trees along riverbanks to reduce the impact of droughts and heavy fertilizer use by farmers.
For more information contact Rachel Ordu Dan-Harry, UUSC's associate for environmental justice, at firstname.lastname@example.org.