“If you owned this land, what would you do with it?” I asked one of our Year 8 pupils. “Sell it quick, Miss!” she quipped . The dry, degraded region around Lake Baringo is a harsh place to live. We visit this area every year to record the progress of the RAE (Rehabilitation of Arid Environments) group based there.
The pupils analyse data that they collect from fields managed by the group. They compare vegetation cover, drainage rate and species variety with data from fields which are currently not part of the scheme. It is a stark contrast. The managed areas are covered in grass which is harvested for seed or carefully grazed by a reduced number of cattle. The fields are fenced and trees are planted. Locals can generate income from selling seed, thatching grass, wood used for fence posts or keeping bees. The most obvious difference is the quality of the cattle that are being fattened for market. Simple, sustainable methods allow the community to earn regular income while protecting the environment in which they live.
In our recent trip, the pupils completed their data collection and headed to RAE headquarters for a ‘Question and Answer’ session with local women and managers from the group. I was impressed with the intelligent questions the children asked, showing a genuine interest in the work and lives of the community. They raised issues about conflict between tribes, between humans and wildlife and they made mature suggestions about how these could be managed. It was a fun and eye opening trip that can be summarized in one of our pupil’s apt remark, “this is the real Africa!”.
Mrs Nightingale – Head of Geography