25th June 2022

News from Mfangano

Mfangano Island falls within Homa Bay county in Kenya and is somewhere very much in need of permaculture. Principle incomes on the island come from fishing and charcoal burning. There is some good growing land but it is limited and the island is noticeably more arid than the Ugandan Sesse islands also in Lake Victoria, to the north west.

The fishing is dwindling, the population is rising and the forest is disappearing. Very heavy rains and silting from deforestation are rising the lake level with farmland, bridges and access points being damaged, add to that C-19 and you have an almost perfect storm.

The potential is there to grow almost anything however, it is sat almost on the equator with altitude and surrounded by fresh water.

There is an upmarket tourist lodge on the island, where interestingly they have a permaculture garden which is super abundant although prone to attack by monkeys.

Furthermore there is a community radio station on the island EK-FM who we would love to collaborate with and perhaps use it to start a big conversation across the island about strategies to improve food and livelihood opportunities.

Our colleague and 2018 PDC participant Bernard is a headteacher at one of the many schools on the island and immediately offered up his school as a potential venue of design focus for a Mfangano PDC. Together with his friend and colleague George Ooko, we have a fantastic opportunity to connect the dots between this first initiative achieved at the tourist lodge and exploring what could be achieved by partnering with the schools, and creating a island wide tree planting initiative.

It feels like all the ingredients for a permaculture demonstration and training centre on the island which could have a huge and lasting impact.

The other key asset is of course that Paul Odiwour Ogola lives only a few hours away on the Homa Bay mainland where he has already developed a highly successful training centre, PermoAfrica.

Only yesterday S39 office had an extensive chat with Bernard about the challenges they are facing on the island and also the potential to improve. We have outlined a plan to begin a tree nursery on the island where we can begin to create a stock of 1000’s of trees we could use for an extensive land restoration exercise following on from a PDC aimed at islanders and delivered in Luo language.

Watch this space as we develop these ideas, first step will be to develop a tree nursery on the island in partnership with Bernard and his school and community.

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