Launch of the Green Belt Movement's community-based bamboo craft center
Today marked a great milestone for the Green Belt Movement (GBM) as we launched a unique Community Based and Craft Center as a successful Bamboo Model for Kenya in Maragua, Murang'a County.
The event kicked off with a ceremonial planting by Green Belt Movement staff, Murang'a County, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forest Research Institute and representatives from the Norwegian Embassy Nairobi. Speaking at the launch, GBM Chair Ms. Marion Kamau noted that bamboo is the next frontier of conservation as it is one of the most versatile and sustainable plants grown today. She also applauded the project for economically empowering the communities stating that "when communities are economically empowered, we have peace and this project has done exactly that."
In his keynote address, Lawrence Kamau, representing the Murang'a County Government, commended the Green Belt Movement's effort towards improving livelihoods in Maragua. Kamau assured that the County Government would seek a way to partner with GBM so as to replicate this model elsewhere in the County.
The “Community Bamboo model for Kenya” aims at generating sustainable income for smallholder farmers and their households through the development of bamboo as a sustainable source of fuelwood, promoting energy-saving cook-stoves and entrepreneurship in bamboo products. This will ultimately contribute to poverty reduction, saving of natural forests, reducing landscape degradation and mitigation of climate change in Kenya.
In partnership with Waterstone Resource Fiber Limited Kenya, GBM established a bamboo biomass and entrepreneurship project in 2013 aimed at promoting the planting of indigenous bamboo for conservation, climate mitigation benefits, renewable energy and income generation for smallholder farmers; involving women groups in local communities in Maragua, Tana-Athi watershed.
The two bamboo model plantations were started in May 2013 by the social enterprise Waterstone Resource Fiber in cooperation with GBM. The Nature Conservancy has been a partner and funder since 2017 with co-founder Ole Bernt Froshaug as the Project Manager.
In 2019 we grew from bamboo cultivation, training, learning and testing to actual, commercial bamboo product production & sales, a prerequisite for a self-sustaining project.
The communities will produce bamboo items at the bamboo craft center for sale in local and national markets. They will develop products for sale, under the supervision and advice of a professional bamboo craftsman and the experience gained will contribute to improved market understanding and adaptation.
In 2015 Al Gore Foundation featured our bamboo model as one of the two most innovative green projects in Africa. Over the years, we have hosted researchers, Universities, US State Department, NGO’s and interested groups from Europe, the USA, India, and China at the model site.