Residents of Laikipia North are raking millions of shillings from their conservation effort of the Mukogodo forest.
Mukogodo forest is one of the few community-managed forests in Kenya and it has seen the Il Ngwesi community get Sh36 million through carbon credit.
The funds support the community in education, health care, water and additional land acquisition in other parts of the country like in Maasai Mara, Narok County.
Mukogodo forest, on the flip side, has been a notorious hideout for bandits after they invade residents, a move that led the government to declare it a disturbed and dangerous zone.
The forest is targeted in the ongoing security multi-agency operation to restore security. However, that has not stopped residents from reaping benefits from the forest.
Laikipia Conservancies Association Chairperson Kip Ole Polos speaking during the annual general meeting in Lokusero, said that through carbon credit money, the community's lives had changed.
'We have got money from Carbon Credit that has made a big impact on this Il Ngwesi community. Today we are here to inform the community on how their money was spent. We have seven forest neighbourhoods and each has benefitted,' said the chairperson.
He said the funds from carbon credit had educated over a thousand students from secondary to tertiary levels.
'We have educated about 1,038 students, each getting a bursary of eight thousand five hundred per term. Education is our top priority as a community,' said Ole Polos.
Ole Polos said, in the water sector, about six million was channelled on rehabilitation of dams, water tanks aimed to cushion residents from dry weather conditions.
He said, among the water project and bursaries beneficiaries from the carbon credits money included Ngare Ndare community, Ethi village, Lokusero ,Sang'a, Leparua, Chumvi and Ngaresero neighbourhoods.
Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said that forest conservation was important since it benefits the community.
Kanyiri urged residents to emulate the Ilngwesi community on forest conservation aimed at reaping benefits in the future.
'We thank the IlNgwesi community which is a section of the Mukogodo forest for their conservation effort, we urge our other communities in Laikipia to emulate them, there are a lot of benefits,' said Kanyiri.
Alan Shuel, a youth from the Ilngwesi community urged other youth from the area to take advantage of the carbon credit money to equip themselves with skills for employability and acquire financial freedom.
Esther Ngirisho, another resident, said through carbon credit funds she was able to educate her five children.
Apart from education, she said to they have benefitted with a biogas system in her home and water, a move she said, had empowered them as women.
Michael Ole Pasare said, they are committed to conserving the Mukogodo forest through rehabilitation of trees that had been cut down in the past and at the same time prevent people from logging.
Source: Kenya News Agency