“In The Making”
To empower local community members with the skills and knowledge of conserving their wetlands, you need to subject them to training and skill building seminars, this has always been the par for the course. Needless to say, more often than not, these skills and knowledge only ever stick to a small fraction of the target audience. But that one enthusiastic, willing, able and ready person is all we need to make a change right?
Well, the same was the case for an Entrepreneurship training conducted by Ecofinder Kenya. Paul is a community member of Koguta Wetland and he was one of the trainees. During the training, he did not have a business but had been thinking of starting one. He was very impressed with Ecofinder Kenya’s nature based enterprise portfolio with particular interest in ecotourism. This is because he believed that there is potential for ecotourism in Koguta wetland especially in terms of avi and boat tourism but this has never before been tapped into.
After the training, he set out to set up an ecotourism venture in the wetland. As it is known, starting any business from scratch is not easy, but in his case, this proved to be even more difficult because he did not have a leg to stand on. There was no past activity that he would get reference from, but he was still determined to try and make it happen. He then put together a group of determined young men like himself, who to the best of his knowledge, he thought would be competent enough to make their idea fly. This however was not the case because a few weeks later, things fell apart.
His entrepreneurial spirit was crushed, but he did not lose hope non the less. He went back to his notes from the training and decided to go at it with a different approach. Paul established a tree farm by planting 3000 tree seedlings in one of his farms, that is in close proximity to the wetland. His main aim for this was to tap into the water available in the wetlands and use it to establish his planted forest, when mature, he would harvest a percentage and plant double that every time.
Aside from his tree farm, Paul is also getting into fish farming. His family had tried this some years back with lung fish and cat fish, it was successful but they did not stick to it. He is therefore tapping into a source of water close to his farm and establishing fish ponds.
Paul hopes to get more and more of his community members to embrace and adopt these alternative sources of livelihood, so that they may reduce the pressure they exert on the wetlands. As these plans are in motion, he is slowly coming up with a portfolio of attractions and ecotourism products and activities in his village. He has a vision that more people from his community will join him, together they will develop numerous nature based enterprises and reduce the over dependence and over exploitation of the wetland. By so doing, they will have a healthier wetland ecosystem and Koguta wetland will eventually thrive as an ecotourism destination.