FMNR and women: restoring trees and confidence

August 11, 2015

by Tony Rinaudo – Natural Resources Principal Advisor (World Vision Australia)

The story of Florence Moraa, treasurer FMNR group, Kiambogoko, Kenya

Empowering women in Kenya to learn and practice Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration is proving to be the catalyst for positive changes in their families, communities and environment. These women are learning to restore trees on their own land and that of their community. In doing so they are actively improving soil and increasing their own food production, crop yields and firewood which they can use and sell. Florence Morah, the treasurer FMNR group in Kiambogoko, Kenya describes the change “Our farms are regenerating, we have more vegetables from our gardens and our children eat a more balanced diet. We are self-sufficient in firewood and even selling the surplus”.

Through the sale of produce and firewood these women are now able to access income for their families. An extensive study by the World Bank in 2011 found that when women control more household income children benefit as a result of spending on food and education. As well as an increase in income these women are being spared from travelling large distances to collect firewood, Florence describes ” We used to always worry about where to get fuel wood from daily. Collecting it involved a 10 kilometre hike to the ‘near-by’ Eburu forest – which was illegal, and in our desperation, we were destroying the environment”. This was not only affecting their own time but the time they were able to sped with their children “the necessity of having fuel also forced us to require our children to spend time each day helping us by collecting firewood – sometimes this made them late for school and it meant that there was no time for them to play or study after school”

When speaking to Florence you could see the pride and dignity on her face, indicating just how much this meant to her, and all the women she represented. She no longer felt like a financial burden to her husband who was dependent for every little thing. She was now be able to meet some of her own needs and even contribute to their family’s needs. With a big smile, Florence closed by saying “we used to look tired and old, now we are beautiful!”