Taita Taveta governor protests suspension of carbon credit project

Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime has said the suspension of the carbon offsetting project in the county is a major setback in reducing greenhouse emissions and transforming the lives of locals.

Mwadime called for the lifting of the suspension of the Kasigau Corridor Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project by Verra, a non-governmental organisation.

He said REDD+ was a key source of climate finance for community-led conservation that covered 200,000 hectares of land, mostly dry forest land previously used as livestock ranches.

The carbon project managed the grazing patterns of livestock and was liked by offset supporters since it began generating credits for carbon markets in 2021.

Before the project was suspended last year, over allegations of sexual harassment of female employees at Verra offices, it had issued over 18 million carbon credits worth about $180 million.

The governor said that the project had enhanced forest conservation efforts and climate change mitigation measures through a community-centred conservation strategy.

Mwadime noted that the project covered Marungu, Mwachabo, Kasigau, Sagalla, Mwatate, and MacKinnon where the locals benefited from quality healthcare, clean water, and education.

“Blocking carbon revenue will lead to insufficient facilitation of game rangers during wildlife surveillance and responding to distress calls by members of the community whose property and crops are frequently destroyed and attacked by marauding wild animals such as elephants, hyena, and lions, among others,” he said.

He said the Wildlife Works rangers who benefited from the project were also critical in combating human-wildlife conflict, and poaching across over 200,000 hectares of land.

“The ban will undoubtedly contribute to the global unemployment crisis as currently there are over 400 people including women, permanently employed in different sectors within the project,” he said.

The governor regretted that many families were struggling to put food on the table, forcing them to return to illegal poaching and burning charcoal.

“We cannot allow the transgressions of a few – which have now been dealt with and destroyed a vital economic lifeline for Taita Taveta county and the fight against climate,” said Mwadime.

Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Dutch’s Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations reported cases of sexual harassment linked to senior employees of Wildlife Works.

Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Project Lead, Nick Taylor, said they had fired two employees previously suspended following sexual harassment and physical abuse allegations.

“The organisation has already taken measures to prevent violation of human rights and anyone found culpable will face the full wrath of the law,” said Mr Taylor.

Currently, 5,000 bright but needy children benefit from the scholarship program initiated by Wildlife Works, spearheading the REDD+ project in 14 ranches in six locations in Voi sub county.

“The project has provided an ever-growing number of jobs to the community through their various departments, which we hope, will continue to grow,” said former Health Executive John Mwangeka. 

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