Environmental activities

April 16, 2020 admin

Many little but significant activities have taken place at the beginning of 2020 in the field of environmental conservation and environmental education that I haven’t written about before.

Samuel and Oscar from the indigenous trees nursery led a tree nursery training for 5th and 6th graders at Nanga on the 23rd of January. During the learning session they established a tree nursery. Ndanu took part in the session in order to learn himself from these very experienced tree people and to make sure by his question list that all obvious issues that a person with no prior experience in nursery establishment get answered. Children do not always dare to ask.

Children had collected Moringa seeds (Mlonge), Samuel and Oscar provided seeds for Newtonia (Mkufi) and Faitherbia albida (Mkababu). Ndanu fetched the Faitherbia seeds the previous day, as they need soaking before sowing. Earlier in January Ndanu had already worked with a small group of students to plant Albizia gummifera and Trichilia emetica (Mkoromaji). So the children had now a nice selection of indigenous trees to experiment with.

Have a look at the gallery of the training day with Samuel and Oscar here…

More nice tree news from Yam Makaa village… When the long rains started Eric and Ndanu were supposed to organise a transplanting day of tree seedlings at Nanga primary school. Eric had good size seedlings at his home nursery that he wanted to donate to the school for this session. He was supposed to bring Markhamia luteas (Mtarawanda), Delonix regia (Mkrismasi) and Croton megalocarpus (Mlailai)… which the school did not yet have. I had seen his seedlings in early January when I visited Yam Makaa.

Eric’s nursery in early January.
In drylands trees are best planted in deep holes that collect water during rains and keep the water close to the roots when they are watered. A row of young Markhamia luteas on a field boundary.

Unfortunately schools were suddenly closed due to Corona and the training could not take place. As an alternative, Eric and Ndanu transferred the seedlings to Ndanu’s place (which is more central to the village) and informed farmers and the village authorities that threes can be picked by farmers for planting at their homesteads. By mid April about 100 seedlings from 280 at Ndanu’s place have been taken and planted.

In March we decided not to take the risk and have the builders travel around to schools by public transport to build stoves and water tanks.

Instead Ndanu, with two helpers Cristofa and Cosmas started repairing the second lowest check-dam that was broken by the extra heavy rain in April 2019. This was an enormous undertaking as the top gabions, full of stones, had been thrown by the water on the bottom of the gully and partially embedded into the now hard soil. Little by little they collected the stones, released the gabions, filled them again by the same stones and secured them in their new places. The newly built check-dam is now a beautiful U-shaped construction. Elephant grass and tree seedlings have been planted upstream to reduce the flow. It has a good chance to work well.

Planting Elephant grass above the dam.

A week before Easter Ndanu and Eric started to repair the lowest and the smallest check-dam.

As the repaired check-dams have now proved to work and people in the village have seen what makes them effective, others have started to copy some of the techniques. One of the most impressive is the thicket of Elephant grass that fills the gully around the repaired check-dams and the road that crosses it. So other people have now started to plant elephant grass in another gully in order to control it’s spreading.

Elephant grass thicket by the road that crosses the gully is an effective tool to control erosion in and around the erosion gullies.

Rhodes grass on the terraces yielded its first fodder harvest. In places where the grass had taken off very well it provides now a good additional source of fodder for the livestock, in addition to keeping the stopping the soil from moving down the slope.

Rhodes grass that was planted on a fanya juu terrace has now yielded its first fodder harvest.

We don’t need to fix all the problems of the world, but we can do our part! Everything counts! Congratulations to all those who have the energy, the skills and the heart to do all this.

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