Four years ago, the utility company encouraged the residents of Matunget, Kenya to plant Eucalyptus trees along the Torok River – the river that provides water to villages up and down the escarpment. This river is the water source for our project to bring running water to the villagers – eliminating the 8km round-trip journey that the women must take to collect water for all their needs. The trees were encouraged so the utility company could run wires without the expense of putting in utility poles. Villagers were told they could cut down and sell the mature trees to raise funds to pay school fees for their children. It was a win-win proposal, or so people thought.
Unfortunately, Eucalyptus trees use enormous amounts of water, and these trees are sucking the river dry. In only four years, Torok falls – where the river cascades down the escarpment to the lower villages – has practically run dry. It is a serious environmental problem that is particularly threatening to the villagers on the lower levels, but, until now, there didn’t seem to be an easy solution. The lower-level villagers wanted the Eucalyptus trees cut down, but the upper-level villagers were afraid to eliminate their only potential source of income for school fees.
Abraham Kosgei, our Kenya Project Director, recently gathered a wide group of people together to present a proposal. It was the largest, most diverse gathering of people these villages have seen, and it included politicians, environmentalists, engineers, residents from upper and lower levels of the escarpment… Abraham told them of our plans to bring running water to the villagers on the upper level, and he also presented a plan to cultivate coffee in place of the Eucalyptus trees to raise money for school fees. Everyone was enthusiastic about the plan, and we are as eager as they are to put the plan in place.
We raised all the funding needed for the water project, and construction is starting now. We expect that project to be completed in the fall. When that is done we will start work on coffee. We are also still pursuing the running tourism project, with Crooked Trails as our partner and lead, which should provide an ongoing source of funds for expanding coffee production and other projects which will benefit the area. The Matunget Project is one of the first projects Global Pearls, under the leadership of Abraham, initiated, and it might well be the first one that becomes self-sufficient. It is exciting to see the huge impact that local groups can make – bringing positive change to their communities – with just a little bit of help from friends like us.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]