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Msumarini, Kenya

  • Definition
    Devising project idea, defining the aim and main components
  • Design
    Specifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
  • Financing
    Searching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
  • Implementation
    Execution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
  • Maintenance
    Operational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
  • Scaling Up
    Scaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.

The Msumarini Self Help Project (MSHP) was established over twenty years ago on the Northern Coast of Kenya in Msumarini to improve community livelihoods and food security and develop a relationship with the community. reNature will start a Model Farm and Model School in partnership with the Msumarini Self Help Project to teach about regenerative agroforestry to improve farming practices, farmer income and drive economic activity in the area. The project will boost biodiversity, regenerate natural resources and provide an inspirational alternative to conventional farming practices.  

Source: Msumarini Self Help Project

Poverty and Degradation Trap 

Many of Msumarini’s inhabitants suffer from a poverty and degradation trap. A lack of economic opportunity and resources under the stress of climate change cause people to seek out unsustainable farming practices. These practices deliver short-term results but exploiting soils and resources in the longer term. Agriculture in particular is undiversified and often unsustainable farming methods are practiced with increasing use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

 The strong reliance on monocropped maize will pose even bigger risks as it is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The global health pandemic has had a great impact on the flow of trade and abruptly halted food imports to Msumarini at times highlighting the fragility of food security relying on imports. There is a need for an alternative farming approach that can ensure food security locally, counteract poverty and degradation while benefiting the environment.

Source: Msumarini Self Help Project

Combining the Model Farm and Model School Approach  

The main activities within the MSHP project will be the development and implementation of a Model Farm and Model School. The first year will mostly focus on the Model Farm starting with the context analysis to ensure all local needs and interests are being taken into account. 

Building on the agro-ecological, social and economic context a regenerative agroforestry design will be made and planted within. The next three years will be spent on the Model School educational program focused on capacity building for community members. Farmers will be trained in regenerative agroforestry practices, invited to engage with the farm design and start learning how to apply these practices on their own farm.  

Overall, this project aims to improve farmer livelihoods, drive economic activity in the area and increase food security and resilience to climate change and weather shocks. 

The only input needed is knowledge 

Kenya and its smallholder farmers are being increasingly targeted by agribusinesses as a sales market for agricultural inputs and GM crop varieties. The business model in which natural ecosystem services such as nutrient availability and pest control are replaced with agribusiness products, traps farmers in a cycle of environmental degradation and the need to buy external inputs. 

reNature and the Msumarini Self Help Project will showcase there is an alternative to shifting to unsustainable practices or leaving villages in the hope of finding work in cities with the potential to end up in even worse conditions. The project will be a showcase for community based approaches, valuing local knowledge and customs, and taking a holistic view on the local agro-ecosystem. Proving the concept to work in this area could inspire neighbouring villages to start planting trees and regenerate an even bigger area. 

Source: Msumarini Self Help Project

By discouraging the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers further degradation of water resources will be prevented. Biomass production on farms will reduce the need to gather firewood from natural areas to counter the trend of deforestation in the region. Regenerative practices will restore ecosystem services of the landscape to better support biodiversity, water retention and soil fertility. 

The Msumarini Self Help Project has made great strides already with environmental education on sustainable energy sources and preserving the natural environment which will help amplify the effects of our Model School educational program.

Bringing new economic opportunities 

The MSHP is already producing fish, fruits and vegetables on their own land to provide the community with fresh and nutritious food. This project would enable community members to produce these foods on their own farm for an even bigger impact on food and nutritional security which will also serve the poor who cannot afford to buy these products. 

Introducing new crops and materials in the area opens up opportunities for value-adding activities, small shops and small-scale export to neighboring areas. Job creation is sorely needed in the area as the lack of opportunities results in a rural exodus to nearby cities. The MSHP implements a gender focus in all of their projects. Women are mostly responsible in food production for the household and will benefit most from the Model School.

Source: Msumarini Self Help Project

The MSHP is already economically sustainable and able to fund most program activities using income generated by selling vegetables, fish and more produce. The demand for agricultural produce is clearly available in towns in the region, so the chance of success of increasing agricultural production is high. The MSHP founders strive for their project to provide an example model which can be replicated in villages nearby. 

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