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World Environment Day 2020: Time for Nature, Time for Women

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Forest Landscape Restoration and Protection: A case of Paran Women Group, Narok County of Kenya

Edna Kaptoyo/ Pastoral Communities Empowerment Programme (PACEP), Kenya

Indigenous women are playing relevant role in forest landscape restoration that is also a water tower. They undertake this protection and restoration of forest ecosystems in a coordinated and collective manner as women groups. An example is Paran Women Group in Ololunga,Narok County of Kenya, who are part of Enkutuk Entim Community Forest Association (CFA) , a collective community forest user group formed in 2005 that brings together women groups form Maasai and Ogiek communities bordering Mau forest in Narok county Kenya.

Paran Women group members making briquette (Photo credit: Naiyan Kiplagat)

The women groups form part of the 24 user groups, which is a platform bringing them together to voluntarily manage tree nurseries, plant trees in degraded forest, conduct environmental education in the community and schools and reduce poverty by investing in the community. The group has made significant contributions towards restoring Mau Forest and preserving its biodiversity, who have over the past 10 years helped restore part of Mau forest ecosystem , as well as introduced farm nurseries and ensuring each member household dedicates some land space for trees to practice farm forestry using their traditional knowledge of propagating indigenous seed species and where to grow and  helped restore over 10,000ha of the land.

They have initiative in the community of making briquettes as an alternative energy source so as to reduce deforestation from fuel wood demand and innovated the traditional cook-stove that is fuel efficient and uses briquette. The initiative has also increased awareness among community members on the importance of forest conservation among school children, with schools even greening their spaces.

Paran Women Group traditional fuel efficient cookstoves (Photo credit: Naiyan Kiplagat)

Since 2016 Paran Women Group has been able to train more than 30 indigenous women groups from Kenya Narok county, West Pokot County and Marsabit County  on tree nursery and planting, now they have vibrant tree nurseries that is supplying their community and schools with tree seedlings and are able to get income to support their households and protect their water catchment areas.

Despite the relevant role played by Indigenous women in protection of forest ecosystem, they are not yet still recognized as agents of change and space for their voice in decision making spaces including in forest related initiatives is minimal. Indigenous women still have challenges in accessing resources and other technical support to scale up these efforts that can be replicated in other areas.

Paran Women Group members in their tree nursery from (Photo credit: Naiyan Kiplagat)

There is now global agreement that human rights norms apply to a broad spectrum of environmental issues, including biological diversity (the full range of life on Earth) and healthy ecosystems (the foundation upon which all life depends). The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Dr. David Boyd, is working to provide additional clarity regarding the substantive rights and obligations that are essential to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Women4Biodiversity works to amplify voices of women from the ground. The story of Paran Women Group, Narok County of Kenya was one of the case studies submitted to Dr. David Boyd as contributions to Call for inputs on healthy ecosystems and human rights: sustaining the foundations of life (June 2020)

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd statement ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June:

Today on World Environment Day, we recognise and celebrate Paran Women Group for their contributions to biodiversity conservation, acknowledging it is #timefornature and #timeforwomen #leavingnoonebehind

World Environment Day 2020 message from Edna Kaptoyo, Pastoral Communities Empowerment Programme (PACEP) video

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