Ep.4 Conservation In Kenya - James Njuguna (Happy Community Organization)

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You're on the plants grow here podcast. I'm Daniel Fuller. Come along with me as we enter a hidden world of deep horticultural, ecological and landscape gardening knowledge with featured experts, industry professionals and enthusiasts. Today's guest is James Njuguna, who's the founder of happy community organization, which is an organization in Kenya that's doing some incredibly interesting ecological work. Welcome to the show. James. Can you please tell us a little bit about the happy community organization and what do you guys do?
Thank you, Danielle, for hosting me today. I'm James Jaeger. And as you say, Dahlia, the founder, happy community organization. We are in profit community based organization working in Kenya in an area known as the Amboseli several ecosystem. The Amboseli server ecosystem is an area of critical biodiversity hosting hundreds of different lives including all the big five bat trays and other biotic and biotic factors within the area.
Can you describe some of the ecological damage that's occurred and what have been some of the causes
a major concern in their in their within the ecosystem is the loss of what we refer to the wildlife corridors. This ecosystem sits in an arid and semi arid region. And therefore the wildlife corridors are important to the to the lives of wildlife within. Now, this wildlife corridors do not form part of the protected areas within the ecosystem, the ecosystem being a Navy of more than 5000 square kilometer only that have have them protected or protected by the government. The remaining more than three quarters what we refer to community lands. Now what is happening within this community land is that people invest as a common in capitalizing on the indigenous math side, the economic status of being people who we consider high poverty levels become in leased lands within these corridors, clear the vegetation around them, which includes the acacia trees, put the land and the crop production layer on layers of maybe 1000 US dollars per year. farm for about three years then, because they use too much fertilizers and other pesticide. By the time three years are over these lands have been degenerated so they live and move to another parcel of land. This pattern has so far destroyed more than 1000 square kilometer within the ecosystem.
And how the pollinators specifically doing
now the area this the area within the corridors and the larger ecosystem has a huge pollinators population. What are you talking about bees, butterflies and all the other insects and animals that we consider as pollinators the major impact is with the one the loss of habitat because most of this most of let's say the bees for example, nest naturally on the trees and hollow trees or on the caves or under the rocks that form part of the non biotic factors in them within this ecosystem. So whenever the clearing happens, we are disrupting. We just throw in this habitat how we know it for example, we just returned from within the ecosystem to in a program that I'll speak later about adopter hype to support the community develop beekeeping as a mass sustainable now in an offseason of swim in season for the bees, we find that we still able to have out of maybe 30 has put in a man about 10 have been populated with bees offseason What this means is that these bees are lacking habitat or nest to stay in and and and that's why we are able to capture this piece are we able to nest them in the highs to ever degrade in fact as of course the use of it Pep state with the increased climbing around best a lot of use of pesticides to control pests, but also the use of chemicals to what we call weed control. So they spray the weeds to control the weeds and this is killing the pollinators within the ecosystem.
You touched on the adopter beehive program. Can you please describe in a little bit more detail how this program works and who it helps?
Thank you so adopter hive is His regenerative his regeneration program that we carry in and within the ecosystem as one of one of them of the projects that we carry around. So what this program is doing is we're trying to chain them the story that the community can only make money from leasing the land, which is very small amounts that they get from it. And from a more lucrative, sustainable economic program. Through the adopter high program, they adopt a hive we look for people, anyone around the world, anyone to support these communities by the knitting a hype to this community. Most of this is his channel through PayPal via donated happy community that all got him for it Happy community.org once we get the money and we build the house, we give these hives to the community to begin the regeneration of the ecosystem to abandon the landless in and to enable us save some of the vegetation such as the Acacia, which are critical to the ecosystem we have under this program, if we're going to save that ecosystem target of 20,000 highs by the year 2030. That means each year since this, when we launched that program, we will be doing 2000 hives to the communities. These communities are divided into households of 20. So each each of the households will receive each of the 20 households will receive 100 highs per year out of this 100 highs then they can be able to make much more as household and we're talking about about 50 5050 100 US dollars, more than 100 I mean 5500 US dollars more than the 100 US dollars that they currently make in just lives in land. But you have to look at the canes as not just the communities but also to bear biodiversity and ecosystem. What this means then is that we will have more grids in elite areas for the wildlife. We will have the occasions that decades has been the major vegetation where you find here act as watershed like they provide shades for when it rains for pasture to grow and, and the move in wildlife the migratory wildlife to graze as they move from the major parts, which are the sovereign national parks, the Amboseli national parks and also inter country borders into the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. That is what the Adopt a Highway is about protecting the ecosystem, the biodiversity, but also giving the community the dignity to support themselves and to support the ecosystem.
The Acacia genus is native to both Australia and Southern Africa. How have the indigenous people traditionally work with this type of plant?
Oh, they they indigenous people within the ecosystem. Here in the mass side people of Kenya have always used their cashier for for their livestock. So whether the goats and other kettles, you may note that the Acacia produces some port, which they have this and stored during the dry season for feeding the livestock whenever it's dry, and there's nothing as to feed. But as I said earlier, that
coupled with
the destruction of this acacias means that there is a disruption in that economic way of people, they Acacia just like they provide watershed for pasture to prefer the for wildlife. And they also benefit the community, the pasture communities, because they can also crave this cattles under those pasture that grows under those trees. So whenever whenever there's this destruction of the Acacia, or the cutting down of the acacias within the ecosystem, we are disrupting people who have known their only life is been hunting and gathering as a source of income to sending that to somewhere where we don't know what will they will be doing in the future.
There are a couple of legs in the baringo County that are in danger of merging. Can you tell us a little bit about why that would be such a big problem if this happens.
Okay. baringo baringo is a county or a region within Kenya and baringo is a county sits in the Great Rift Valley at the grocery valleys a geographical feature that stats from Lebanon and in Asia and entered Mozambique and it's almost Southland part of Africa. It's the regret slavery Valley About 6000 kilometers in size. Now this feature is an active volcanic area. And it was formed out of volcanic activity that result that resulted into fourth line sinking and forming a depression that came to be known as the Great Rift Valley. Now, because the volcanic activity around the Rift Valley is active in around the lake baringo and Lake bogoria is the two lakes that are about to match. There has been a what we call the the steam gauges, or basically the magma and the malt and the magma and that is boiling the water and that comes out as occasio as hot Kasia. Now the Government of the Republic of Kenya has been in within that area using or trying to utilize that to develop geothermal power as a source of clean energy to power the country. But right they are the activities of Trillian around the two legs is what is threatening the merging of these two legs because as I mentioned earlier, that Rift Valley is plumb out of faultlines. So whenever you drill into the core of the crater Valley, you expose in this faultlines as x puzzles, then the water underneath water against like spaces are raved to percolate. And this is what now has been feeling in the two legs, the cracks that are imagined out of the drilling of the jovem will power filling in this lake, the lake was initially the legs were initially about 40 kilometers apart. Currently, we're talking about five kilometers apart. Now that might seems okay. I mean, it means that there's some more water for biodiversity handle. But now the problem is that one leg is salty or alkaline, while the other is freshwater lake. What that means is that in one leg, you'll find aquatic life that can only survive in freshwater lake and in another you can only find life that can only survive in salty water, when these two match, then it means this absolutely destruction of the lives within those two legs, because the lives that depends on the salty water will not be able to survive. And the legs that depends on the life that depends on the lake in the freshwater cannot survive. That is why this is a major concern to the biodiversity of the lives within within the two lakes, Lake baringo and Lake bogoria.
Do you think that losing some of that biodiversity is going to have further reaching consequences than just the life that exists within those lakes? Absolutely. And
you even looking at the local economy, the fisherman's and everything it will be it'll mean so much distraction to so many people so many lives. And I mean, it will it will really be catastrophic. What needs to be done is the stopping of drilling in within the those areas. The whole Rift Valley is that is is an area of as they say the Arctic book, and there are many areas will buy with the government of Kenya can clean geothermal power. So many areas that we can pick up that we can speak of the Hells Gate, National Park area, that maganda area, the true Canyon area, but for this and seeing what is happening, I think it is very important that all activities around those areas are abandoned. We have not had any anything yet, with regard to any concrete that been undertaken to stop that. The studies are still preliminary and we are hoping that a government will take action. Again, we're just hoping that the fact that we come in from a rainy season the end of a rainy season, maybe it might ease that bit a little bit and we might avoid this catastrophe on the short term. But long term if the government is to continue drilling, then we are surely going to have these two legs match. And I must say there were actually there was actually another leg they were three legs but the other leg happened to be freshwater two, which merged with a barrel with a with a baringo Lake. So we're not talking of something that has not happened to some extent. One left one smaller lake has already been swallowed by by the bigger lake and we will look in it this extending now into the catastrophic areas. We can only hope that the government will take action even as we try to lobby and push for some action to take place.
Is there anything that our listeners can do to help
We are trying, because I must say that happy community does not come out the most it from around that area. But we are trying to look for people within that area and and develop an joint plan that will work on addressing the same. And when that happens, then we can we will surely inform you of the same.
Thanks, James, what does a modern economy look like to you? Well,
the modern economy is mean both interest in both positive and it has both its positives and its negatives. Some some concern here in Africa and and in Kenya, when you look at the modern economy is a an economy that insists on too much too much or unsustainable production, whether you talk you know, food or product that and to feed a market? Well, we have not exhausted them, as in what what we already have within the economy. That's why, for example, we produce so much but with so much on, on storage of the produces. So when you wonder how how more than or how sustainable is such an economy, I think we need to move to an economy that thinks about the future or places the future as that as a main of the core consideration on everything that we do, we know that we've already mess the world, in an economy that focused on production of things that were unsustainable, I mean, production that was based on oil or oil as a source of energy production that was based on people, not people only thinking about profit and not about the future, we can all move in that way, as we see whether you it's in Australia with the wildfires that we can attribute to raising temperatures and climate change. The same is happening here in Kenya, or whether you think about what we've been seeing in the recent week in Malaysia with how much the production of oil is always at threat to biodiversity, whether it's during transportation whenever those tanks, links, lakes, or whether it's in Kenya and in Africa, where we've become a dumping site for all manner of pesticides that have been banned in Europe and elsewhere. glycols and all those we cannot build the world from such a base such an economy. And so we must rethink we must reshape and focus on an economy that builds back better.
The beautiful thing about the adopter Bihar program to me seems to be that it's a bit of a two pronged approach where we have the ability for individuals to make an income and it also makes a difference on the ecology in a positive way. Is there anything else that's important that you'd like to share with the listeners?
Great um, let me just say something about their doctor behead their doctor adopt a beehive is a community driven process supported by people around the world to make our world a better place. I always say conservation anywhere is conservation everywhere. And mess in the world anywhere is missing the world everywhere. So one thing that I can ask people who will listen or listening to this is to come out and support adopter hive. It doesn't matter whether you bring in $1 $20 but we have to begin somewhere in building our world back better, and adopter high offers everyone that chance to make the difference in our world. And whenever you donate through PayPal or through any other way info at Happy community.org you are making that change you bring in or you you lead in, in making our world Our Common Home a better place. Now someone might want to engage more on this. They are number of links that I could share on our social media. Most of the time we use our Twitter page, which is at Happy community K or just go to our just www dot Happy community.org and you'll find us there. You can also email me at ninja Guna at Happy community.org if you want a more personal touch, we can take the discussion from there. Otherwise, thank you Daniel.
If you're interested, you should definitely check out that link in the show notes and adopter hive. It seems to me to be a win win win situation where the individual, the community and the ecology all benefit. And as an added bonus, you can feel good about your donation.

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