Alternative source of cooking fuel for rusinga island inhabitants

Historians and history books illustrate how Rusinga Island was home to the early man, proconsul africanus, a fossil of an ape which lived 23 to 14 million years ago. This creature was mainly a fruit eater.

Reading this historical fact as a child during my school days gave me hope, but as the clock ticks a lot is happening and changing. And now as a grown up i realize the hope fast fading and the future prospects of the island turning grim and dwindling.

Before his demise a few years ago, my dad used to narrate to me how beautiful the island was. Full of hope, food, deferent flora and fauna, fish and abundant fish species. Being a United Nations Environmental Program global award winner for outstanding environmental work and achievements, my dad explained with zeal and enthusiasm how bushy the island was, and as a whole how the island was full of glaring hopes.

But as the populations grew, ecological footprints of the islanders also grew plunging the island into deep socio economic and ecological abyss.

Food insecurity is becoming the order of the day, plant species are fast becoming threatened, fish stocks declining with others becoming critically endangered and as a whole the island is rapidly turning from an island of hope to an island of despair.

Mitigating these impacts of climate change is difficult and calling for sustained concerted collective efforts geared towards mitigation of the climate change impacts.

Following his footsteps, Evans ODULA, Kenyan decent got struck by these sad stories and the emerging desertification catching up with the islanders. He mobilized communities through Badilisha organization, a community based project he helped found nearly ten years ago to undertake permaculture and environmentally related projects. Evans led a big efforts to create awareness to and sensitize people on the magnitude of the catastrophe befalling the islanders.

As usual communities take time to understand and internalize these kind development work, but as someone wisely said, consistency conquers resistance, people began to understand the severity of the problem and quit number has joined the conservation bandwagon.

It was not a walk in the park since the small indigenous forest in the hilltops was a source of livelihoods to many women and young men who depended on the forest products to earn their livelihoods. Charcoal and dry firewood business was booming and thriving well in the local fishing community’s settlements commonly referred locally as beaches and this same forest was also a major grazing zone for cattle .It provided good grass for people who do animal husbandry, and practice the dominant free range grazing systems.

So conserving this forest affected the local communities in so many ways. But all in all we had to weather these storms and restore order and try by all means to apply assisted natural regeneration principles and practices  to bring back the islands past glory.

Women had to stop cutting down trees, grazing had to be restricted at the foot of the hills to void overgrazing and soil erosion, and as a whole it was going to be business unusual. And the whole community had to adapt and change with changes with all our eyes focused on the ultimate price.

At the core of it all is fuel and livelihoods. We have to look for an alternative source of livelihood and fuel. And that is how this word briquettes came to our minds. Briquette is a charcoal fuel made from combustible Biomass. We have varieties of briquettes depending on the raw material used, shape and the process and stages of production.

Rusinga Island urgently needs a briquette making machine, a machine which is going to try and introduce a deferent source of fuel from locally and abundant waste materials, maize stocks and general combustible Biomas.This will release the pressure on the forest products and also create women to community members who depended on the forest products for their livelihoods.

Briquettes apart from being an income generating activity is also having health and economic benefits. They burn for a long time hence reducing costs and also the less smoke they produce is essential in reducing lung and breathing problems which has affected most women in the island.

This green technology project is going to give a new dawn and apocalypse to the old and new generations to be able to embrace and adapt to climate change impacts. A seed fund of about 1800 Euros given for this project will not go to waste as it will create employment, create income, protect trees and also save the women from health problems.

“Clicks” Changing Fortunes Of Badilisha Community In Kenya

Reliable internet connection is a pipe dream for most rural communities of Kenya, Rusinga Island inclusive. It is a challenge that Evans Odula and his Badilisha community members had to live with for many years.Accesiing internet connection involved waking up early in the morning and travelling miles away only to have a glimpse at your inbox. It involved spending money travelling, paying exorbitant prices to access, and sometimes you had to book a room in the lodge to spend a night there in Homa bay town since power black outs were also very rampant. And the worst part of it was that we were not allowed to touch the computer, an issue that gave us little or no chance to get acquaintance and exposure to the digital world.

Digital illiteracy inhibits development, since we had limited contact with Global community’s .Interaction and exchange of ideas is a catalyst for international development and discussion on global questions and development targets. The problem was half solved by the emergence of the mobile phones and simple internet connection gadgets, but somehow that was something to celebrate since something is better than nothing .And also someone once told me that if you can’t get what you want then you should learn to want what you already have. So we had to want what we have since it was the only option that saved us from travelling miles and also incurring expenses.

Finally with the latest technological advancements, a lot is happening, and we have smiles on our faces as we all go digital. Thanks to the hard work of our dear friend and collaborator Andy with his nearly impossible ideas about using bitcoin to empower rural communities to undertake permaculture and nature conservation work and also improve on our community centers ‘ basic infrastructural development.On top of  our wish list  was internet connection, a medium we needed urgently to enable us  tell the world about what we are doing  in our community center Badilisha (www.badilishapermaculture.org) through blogs photos, videos  and even through social media. All these needed a reliable connection to achieve.

Finally we realized that Andy s nearly impossible ideas about using bitcoins, through clickforafrica platform was finally working and yielding results .We saw that through clicks, we managed to get an internet connection gadget ,something that has meteorically changed our fortunes digitally. Lot can now be done on our doorsteps as we can reliably connect and interact with the Global community freely and at will. We can now teach our Badilisha team members on how to use a computer and also learn how to update our blogs and website on latest project developments. This will enable us to get freedom in trying to solve our own problems and get independence through Global partnerships and friendships. The internet connection we bought with this support is fast and reliable enough to assist us in our work. It can be connected to many computers and can also be used as wifi with laptop computers and mobile phones. Though currently we have only one computer

The internet connection will still go further into turning Badilisha to be a local Tele-center, where communities may come in future to explore on different things they need or look online for market for their products in case of producers like fishermen or even Moringa or vegetable farmers. So with continuous clicks, a lot is changing here .We foresee our forest being protected, we foresee farmers benefiting and improving on their work and total change of fortunes.

Truly this clickforafrica project is an attestation that slow and small solutions work, in accordance with one of the permaculture principles. When we started this whole journey making trials and changes together with Andy, it all looked impossible, but now we have proved that with clicks something can happen which can benefit disadvantaged communities of the world and change their fortunes positively.Thanks to clickforafrica for enabling us join the digital world.

Rusinga islands’ long journey to ecological order

Globally and locally, climate change is a grave concern , a lot is happening already which attest to this fact. And if something is not done now rather than later irreversible changes will occur. And it all calls for system changes. Our beloved island Rusinga is not left out, and our community led by Evans Odula, a local community mobiliser is doing a lot through Badilisha, an organization he helped create over ten years ago to promote permaculture locally and regionally.

A few years ago badilisha also got interested in the difficult job of forest protection and tree planting in close collabortion with schools and local community.

Alot has since happened. This year alone over 20, 000 trees have been planted in close collaboration with local community , schools and farmers.

Our indegenous forest which has faced major destruction by the local community to earn their livelihoods has also shown clear signs of regeneration.

Natural trees which were threatened have recovered and grasses are growing on the hillsides which were badly degraded , a clearer indication that assisted natural regenerations works.

And this long journey continues.

Hello From Badilisha!

photo of the lakeshore at Badilisha

Hello dear friends, it is with great celebrations that we witness the launch of this project. This project is quite instrumental in our efforts to promote permaculture which is a cornerstone in enhancing Rusinga Island food security in the Island. And we are determined to get going.