Category Archives: Christians in conservation


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired at the end of last year and now everyone is trying to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  SDGs are more globally collaborative and inclusive compared to MDGs and therefore more promising. You move to a seminar room and write MDG or SDG, everyone starts thinking of the United Nations and other big multinational organizations. Here at A Rocha Kenya, we have been working to demystify this and appreciate the potential that all of us, whether young or old, have to help achieve these goals by thinking globally but acting locally.

Young People on the Global Stage (YPGS) is a project that engages students and teachers to address some of these Sustainable Development Goals and here in Nairobi A Rocha Kenya (ARK) has been working with three secondary schools as part of the project.  Between 15th and 18th February this year the project study visit took place and the ARK Nairobi team were delighted to host teachers from the UK, Spain and The Gambia for this event.


The main aim of the study visit was to exchange ideas, share experiences and knowledge on sustainable development Issues and to hold a workshop towards resource development and a final communiqué by the young people. Over the duration of the week, the visitors together with the ARK team embarked on day trip activities and meetings in a bid to facilitate collaborative learning. The multicultural perspectives ensured unlimited conversations and sessions on sustainable development.


The most intense day of the visit was on Monday which began with a visit to A Rocha Kenya’s Karara field study centre where Dr. Magambo, the National Director gave an overview of A Rocha Kenya followed by a tour to the tree nursery and demonstration plots to learn about conservation agriculture (Farming God’s Way). This was followed by a visit to Oloolua block of the Ngong Forest where they engaged with farmers and Community Forest Association (CFA) members to see the work of ARK with communities. From there they proceeded to the Ngong Hills for a hike and a picnic lunch. The day rounded off with a trip to Lenana School where members of the Environmental Club steering committee led the group on a tour of the school, showcasing and explaining their environmental conservation efforts.


The reminder of the week was a series of trips to other organizations engaged in sustainable development. This included a visit to the Giraffe Centre, New Life Home Trust baby rescue centre, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Dagoretti Special School, Marula Studios and Tangaza University College in smaller groups of five. On Wednesday the YPGS-ARK team met to plan for the workshop on Thursday. Another group had a chance to visit Kibera slums to see the challenges faced by residents and how they try to overcome those challenges. It was interesting to note that the population of Kibera is bigger than the population of The Gambia!


The most memorable moment was the inspiring story by Musa Abdi Galma, an alumnus of Lenana school Environmental club, who shared passionately about his background, the challenges he witnessed in his area when he was a child, his love for the environment and the unstoppable strides he is making towards conservation. His eloquent, , but real story left everyone amazed, challenged and convinced that indeed young people could be agents and drivers of change rather than just victims, enemies or witnesses of the same.

The culmination of the week was the teachers’ workshop on the Thursday, which involved teachers from all four countries, along with ARK staff, coming together to produce teaching materials on three major themes: Poverty and Wealth, Hunger and Food Production and Sustainable Development. At the end of the session we were given the task of completing, over the next few months, resources which can be used cross culturally with sections specific to the curriculums of each participating country.

For all of us at ARK, the study visit week was an amazingly rich time of learning from and sharing with our project partners from other parts of the world and a great encouragement in our aim to see lives transformed as we work for the conservation and sustainable development of our wonderful, God given natural world.


On an early Tuesday morning, Kilonzo Masyuko, a farmer and businessman from Chamari village received us with a smile on his face and a Bible in his hand, a trademark of him being a staunch Christian and an assistant pastor. A father of five, Kilonzo educates and feeds his family from farming. We hurriedly get into the car with his 3 year son to see his Farming God’s Way (FGW) crop at his farm some 7kms away.

Kilonzo is one of the many farmers from other parts of the country who have bought large pieces of land, cleared the forest by burning it down and practiced traditional farming. However, Kilonzo is a transformed man as a result of intensive Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) discussions, Farming God’s Way (FGW) and care for creation training. He is now a better farmer who used to burn his land every planting season and grew only maize by broadcasting but now commits his farming to the Lord, mulches his land as much as he can, plants maize, green grams and cassava.


Kilonzo and son on his 2 acre green gram plot

As we reached the farm, we were greeted by long, tall and neat rows of a healthy maize crop. Kilonzo’s smile widened in an ‘I told you’ fashion when he saw our surprised and exited looks. Kilonzo took us through his 7 acres of farmed land and to the half acre of FGW plot beautifully mulched from last season’s Stover. There, we hold hands and blessed his land over prayer, a job well done. He told us rather apologetically that he could not have managed to mulch and fertilize the whole area but he did manage to do the proper spacing for all crops. We squeezed past the rough maize leaves to his 2 acre green gram plot, a dense vegetation of healthy green crop, and later to his new poultry structure he made after a farmers’ visit  to Yatta.


Kilonzo putting mesh on his poultry house

Kilonzo is a beacon of hope, transformation and a model to many who need change of their attitudes and practices. For his hard work and faithfulness, we salute Mr. Kilonzo.



Can you imagine working out of the office for six lump sum days? Well, an opportunity knocked at A Rocha Kenya doors some weeks ago for the second time.  We set out for the annual International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Park showground, Nairobi where all roads led in.

What a spectacular display of unique innovations, technologies and talents from different government institutions, organizations, corporate bodies, and schools all in line with the 2015 theme: “Enhancing Technology in Agriculture and Industry for Food Security and National Growth.’’ It was the best platform for ARK to interact with both local and international exhibitors as well as curious visitors.


We were able to secure a stand through a courteous gesture of the Kenya Forest Service to demonstrate how Farming God’s Way can be used as a tool not only for improving food security but also for saving biodiversity.


Thousands of people from all walks of life streamed in. For a moment it seemed overwhelming but the team was well prepared. Visitors from the Kenya Defense Forces, tourists, students, farmers, environmental enthusiasts and community developers were drawn to our stand by our beautiful garden among other displays.


Did you know that about 70% of the food we consume globally comes from small scale farmers? Well, many of them arrived at our stand eager to learn how they can increase their yields and open a door for biodiversity into their farm. “We are tired with unending chemical use in our farms. Our farms have become so unhealthy” said one farmer. The pungent smell from a natural liquid fertilizer we had prepared was one of the striking exhibits that drew the attention of many. This is where the rubber met the road. As days rolled by, questions on farming and conservation were asked. It was our pleasure to quench this thirst for knowledge.


Finally, the message was home; “You can increase your food production as you care for the whole creation.”‘Wow! Good job” “ARK is recreating the garden of Eden!’These were some of the reactions we got from different individuals which convinced us that, many would start relying on natural fertilizers, natural pesticides and would plant more wildlife friendly trees in their farms.

The following Monday we were welcomed by the 1-2-3 calls of the Rupell’s Robin chat reminding us that we were back to our offices in Karara. The show was over; we thank God for His grace throughout that period. For all those who missed out, see you next year! Kwaheri.



Politicians must follow the Pope, say Christian Conservationists.

Climate Change is a global plight, its damage on ecosystems affects all creation. Each human has a stake in tackling climate change since we all need a habitable earth.

A Rocha organisations have welcomed the new Papal Encyclical. It has a strong moral message on the environment.

Read here


Care of Creation Training.

Towards the end of May A Rocha Kenya conducted a training on Care of Creation in five villages in Dakatcha. Since moisture (water) plays a pivotal role in the wellbeing of the rest of the creation, the film  Water Running Dry was shown.
Looking at the  dire consequences of desertification as projected on the film, one villager  said,” I did not know that you actually should cry before felling a tree”. Deforestation is a real threat to fresh water sources. Some scientists anticipate international crises on fresh water due to waning global forest cover and general degradation of the environment.


A group watching the film Running Dry.

A Rocha Kenya has taken the conservation message to Christian  communities, sharing the biblical basis of creation care with pastors. Pastors who attended the week-long training confessed that they have not incorporated conservation in their preaching. The event was a great insight for them as they agreed to spread the creation care message to their congregations.


This church was among the venues during the training.

In the discussions the villagers acknowledged that Farming God`s Way (an on-going project) which upholds agroforestry as a principle is one of the solutions to the degradation of the woodlands. Deforestation (charcoal burning) coupled with shifting (slash and burn) cultivation is a major threat to the forest ecosystem. As a result the area receives rains at quite irregular times. Last year we were inspecting the Farming God`s Way plots (which had a luxuriant crop) and we saw a withered crop on the plots farmed the ordinary way. Early planting and mulching was the recipe for the success of the Farming God`s Way plots. The communities have started to establish tree nurseries and among the trees to be raised is the acacia Faidherbia albida. Seeds were issued during the training. The beneficiaries were excited to be issued with  seeds of such a useful tree. It is ideal for agroforestry as it shields plants from excessive sunlight during the dry season since it sheds its leaves during the wet season. The leaves readily decompose due to the presence of moisture and enhances soil fertility. In fact, it is claimed to fix ten times more the amount of Nitrogen fixed by legumes. Livestock such as goats and cows feed on it and it is also home to insects including pollinators.


A group gathering tree nursery materials.

Bounty Harvest

The Kenyan coast is famed for being one of the top tourist destinations in Kenya; it is characterized by a distinctive hot and humid climate. This makes it hot for the better part of the year despite the heavy downpours between April and May and the occasional showers towards the end of the year.

Gede, situated in the coastal region, has poor infertile soils and little rainfall all year round. Thus Farming in this area is practiced on minimal levels as the probability of the crops surviving or obtaining a good harvest is very low.

At our farming God’s way demonstration plot at Gede, which is about 110 metres squared.We are always assured of a good harvest despite the poor rainfall and soil conditions. Wondering how this is possible? This is made possible by incorporating farming God’s way techniques into farming, which are; carrying out mulching, zero tillage, use of compost manure, no burning, good timing and most important of all putting God first.

We planted maize on the 25th March 2014 at a time when the first rainfall showers are experienced around Gede. People around were surprised and asked if the rain was really enough for planting. The shock on their faces cannot be explained when they saw the maize on our demonstration plot had germinated as most of them expected it not to, because of the scarce rainfall.

And when the rains came later on in May, the maize was flourishing as compared to the maize on the nearby farms which had just been planted. We harvested our maize on 19th July 2014 getting about 50kgs.The nearby communities have been visiting us to find out more about this and all we can say is come forth lets farm God’s way.

Mwamba Nature Trail Monitoring Project

Take a minute and imagine the earth without trees…trees are superficial living things that have the capacity to provide shelter, oxygen and food for countless organisms.

It is for this reason that we at A Rocha Kenya value the trees in our trails and are carrying out a monitoring project on them.857424_733708943316893_8021754802469940044_o
Mwamba nature trail monitoring project, is a long term fruiting, leafing and flowering project that involves walking through the nature trail while looking for new leaves, flowers and fruits of selected tree species. The survey is usually conducted on a weekly basis normally after the staff meeting on Mondays.


Bourreria petiolaris tree and fruits
The total number of the tree species is 12, all coastal indigenous trees. Surprisingly, the number of the monitored trees is 93.The maximum number for each species is 10 and the minimum is 2. Most of the tree species are flowering and fruiting but a few are continuing to leaf. However, some few species are neither flowering nor fruiting.



Afzelia quanzensis flowers
Data collection is essential in understanding the variation patterns of the different species when it comes to these tree parameters. For realistic conservation strategies, scientific knowledge is of utmost importance. Thus this is intended to produce useful information to be used by A Rocha Kenya’s Environmental Education and Community Conservation departments.


A Rocha Kenya’s staff recording data during a weekly survey
Communication is ongoing on the possibility of using data generated from this project to help write and publish a Mwamba tree guide book especially in regards to flowering, fruiting and dispersal agents among various non-floral elements. Currently, a Germany botanist has offered to help in developing the book and we hope for the best.

Gede Farming God’s way plot

When soil (the essential ingredient in any farming enterprise) is in poor health, plants cannot grow to their full potential. Undisturbed by man, soil is usually covered by a canopy of shrubs and trees, by dead and decaying leaves or by a thick mat of grass. Whatever the vegetation, it protects the soil when the rain falls or the wind blows. The leaves and branches of trees and the cushion of grass absorb the force of raindrops, and root systems of plants hold the soil together. Even in drought, the roots of native grasses, which extend several metres into the ground, help tie down the soil and keep it from blowing away.

A Rocha Kenya farming God’s way project in Gede is a unique farming method that entirely revolves around incorporating trees into farming, use of mulch and composite manure. In this demonstration plot, Mango (Mangifera indica) is grown together with maize (Zea mays) and bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) crops. One may wonder, why incorporate mango trees into a farm? Mango is tolerant of a wide range of conditions from hot and humid to cool and dry and the fruits have a high nutritional value

The trees are useful for shade, timber, as a support for climbing plants , improving soil fertility (by providing mulch from the leaves falling off the trees) ,attracting a host of insects such as bees which are beneficial to farming and are also a good source of medicine.

And as an organization that works to care for God’s creation we encourage each and every person to step up; bring forth hope- Farm God’s way!


Muvera wa ASSETS-True Environmental Ambassadors!

Coordinating a project as great as ASSETS can get a little scary sometime going by the amount of hope laid on us by the thirsty young minds yearning for school apart from nature itself that we view to conserve in the long run!
I must however thank the different stakeholders involved since things would be impossible were it not for them. Muvera wa ASSETS categorically, has been pivotal in effecting fruitful conservation initiatives at the local level.

Recently I visited the association members from Malanga and the site of their beautiful casuarinas seedlings; healthily dancing to the rhythm of the wind truly moved me.
In this part of the world, this is certainly the driest period of the year and it must have taken them immense efforts to accomplish this. It got me thinking how transformed their attitude towards the environment should be; truly encouraging…! In less time than it takes to tell undoubtedly, we will have a completely ‘green community’ bordering the ‘greenest’ forest in the whole of Eastern Africa.

I leave Malanga headed towards the southern end of the Arabuko sokoke forest, a village called Nyari.A peculiar site welcomes me though; a very clear path into the forest despite the electric fence! Maybe or maybe not, someone uses this opening to smuggle timber out of the forest.
Normally, I would be extremely disturbed by such a site, having had to get hold of the Kenya Forest Service guards and report this , but then on second thought…! I stop my relatively old but responsive Yamaha DT motorcycle to call the chairman Muvera wa ASSETS Nyari branch, I explain what I had seen and speed off to my office in Gede to attend to other office matters; am all glad though because undoubtedly my laments are in the right hands.

Hawkfish and Sandperch!!

Many of us may have had or still do have aquariums in our houses or in our work places. Hawkfish are one of the groups which are collected for such tanks despite their slightly aggressive, territorial behaviour. Other than the details of keeping the species in an aquarium, not much is known about them. Hawkfish and Sandperch families are currently being assessed for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List categorises each species depending on their threats, habitat and ecology and geographical range. Each species is then placed on a scale ranging from Least Concern to Extinct.
The A Rocha Kenya marine team are conducting field work to determine each species abundance and distribution across the Watamu Marine National Park which will contribute to this assessment. Additional research into habitat association of hawkfish will be conducted by one of the current marine volunteers, Hannah, as part of her Batchelor thesis.
Hawkfish and Sandperch