Counties get Sh1.6bn to fund conservation

Nathaniel Mkombola, a citizen scientist and the chair person of Dawida Biodiversity Conservation during a bird ringing exercise in Ngangao forest in Taita Taveta. [Caroline Chebet, Standard]

Conservation enterprises in 13 counties in the Rift Valley can now access Sh1.6 billion funding for locally-led land restoration projects.

Under the TerraFund for African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (TerraFund for AFR100), the Rift Valley, alongside four other sites in Africa, has been earmarked as a priority area to benefit from the conservation fund for Africa.

"Kenya's Rift Valley is among areas with concentration of real restoration activities. It is one of the key priority areas selected for the second phase of funding in the continent," said Rebekah Shirley, the deputy director for Africa at the World Resource Institute.

While it operates across 33 countries in Africa, the second phase of funding will benefit Kenya's Rift Valley alongside the Ghana Cocoa Belt, Lake Kivu and Rusizi River Basin of Burundi, DRC and Rwanda.

To determine priority areas, Shirley said the process involved selecting regions that had huge capacity and ongoing restoration activities, both of which were evident in Rift Valley.

The funding targets local organisations in counties including Nakuru, Baringo, Elgeiyo Marakwet, West Pokot, among others. Local conservation communities can qualify for funding of between Sh117 and Sh66 million.

To bridge the gap in funding restoration initiatives across the continent, World Resources Institute, One Tree Planted and Realize Impact established TerraFund for AFR100 in September 2021.

"TerraFund for AFR100 comes to complement efforts of the Government of Kenya and stakeholders to bring millions of hectares of degraded forests and landscapes under restoration," said Peter Ndunda, senior associate at AFR100, World Resources Institute.

"We need to support locally-led organisations and businesses across the Greater Rift Valley to achieve Kenya's development and environmental priorities," he noted.

Linda Kosgey, an official from the Ministry of Environment's National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign, said that TerraFund for AF100 will help the country boost its efforts to achieve the 15 billion tree target.

"The launch of this fund could not have come at a better time. Restoration requires all actors to be involved and the funds will accelerate our efforts to achieve our national targets," Ms Kosgey said.

As part of monitoring and documenting the efforts already in place, she said the government launched a mobile application dubbed 'Jaza Miti' that allows users to document tree-growing activities.

The application also helps users to know the kind of tree species they can plant in a particular area.

"As part of the drive to grow trees, this application even boosts the survival rates of a tree species by marching species to specific areas of restoration that they thrive in," said Ms Kosgey.

Nakuru deputy Governor, David Kones, said land degradation has threatened economic and agricultural productivity in the region, adding that there are plans in place to reverse the trends.

"In Nakuru County, we are targeting to increase forest cover from the current 68,000 hectares to 75,000 hectares by 2030," said Kones.

The first phase of Terra Fund released Sh2 billion (US$1.5 million), which funded 100 projects across 27 countries.

Phase 2 of Terra Fund has now released Sh1.6 billion (US$1.2 million) to restore an estimated 25,000 hectares and grow 16.3 million trees.

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