Empowering women and communities to build healthy and sustainable futures
42% of Kenyans live below the poverty line, with dire consequences for health, nutrition, and education. There are many reasons for this, but one key factor is lack of access to family planning which means women have no choice over the spacing and number of children they have.
By allowing women to choose the number and spacing of their children, based on their economic and environmental conditions, the living standards and health of the whole family can be improved. With smaller families and longer breaks between births, everyone can be better nourished, access to education is improved, and the number of potentially dangerous, unskilled abortions is reduced. Smaller families require less food, water and firewood, reducing pressure on the environment.
One person who has received family planning is Josephine. Married at 12 or 13 to an older man of around 40, she is now a single mother of nine. When asked about her age, she wasn’t sure, but thinks she is around 30. Her husband passed away last year and two of her children have also passed away, leaving her with seven to support on her own. It is only now, with the arrival of family planning services to her village, that Josephine has access to contraception for the first time. She says: “I’m even championing family planning to the rest of the women in the village. The moment you stop having children, you have the strength to go and do so many other activities, rather than just being pregnant, breast feeding, being pregnant, breast feeding…”
To date CHASE Africa has delivered over 110,000 family planning treatments in East Africa.
As well as family planning, we believe it is vital that people receive the healthcare that they need. We fund our partners to visit rural communities with mobile clinics that offer effective healthcare services. The clinic will attend to primary healthcare needs such as respiratory infections, skin complaints, diarrhoea and malaria and they will also carry out childhood immunisations, deworming, some cancer screening and HIV/Aids voluntary testing and counselling.
Our mobile clinics use every means possible to reach rural communities with healthcare options. When road conditions allow, clinics will travel in a 4×4, but in hard to reach areas camels can be the best way!
Prior to mobile clinics going out, local community health workers are selected and trained to communicate the benefits of using family planning to poor communities where there is a lack of knowledge and a high degree of mistrust. This myth-busting is vital to ensure that people have all the facts and can make an informed decision.
CHASE Africa’s mobile clinics have reached over 200,000 people with healthcare services.
Rapid growth in population is one of the main causes of poverty, deforestation and environmental degradation.
- Millions of people in East Africa depend on streams and rivers for their water needs, but as forests are cut down, water flow becomes erratic and, in many cases, ceases altogether. When it does rain, the lack of vegetation cover leads to flash flooding and serious soil erosion.
- The impact of deforestation on wildlife and biodiversity has been devastating. The forest is home to countless forms of wildlife: no forest, no wildlife.
- According to the Kenya Forestry Service, forest cover was 6% in 2013, lower than the 10% forest cover required by the Kenya constitution.
- In 2013 the Forestry and Wildlife Minister urged Kenyans to plant 10% of their farms with trees.
- Families in East Africa are spending increasing amounts of time and money collecting or paying for wood for fuel and construction.
- The climate is changing. Average temperatures are rising and extreme weather events – particularly floods and droughts – cause havoc with long-established patterns of cultivation.
“If you destroy the forests, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation”
Professor Wangari Maathai
CHASE Africa aims to address the effects of environmental degradation across East Africa with a programme of forest restoration in national parks and tree planting in schools and villages.
We have planted over 140,000 trees in schools, settlements and conservation areas.
Trees for schools
CHASE Africa has funded the planting of trees on plots of between ½ and 1 acre at over 90 schools in Nakuru District. This planting includes both woodlots (fast growing trees to be harvested for fuel and timber taking pressure off the indigenous forest) and indigenous trees which will remain to maturity. Teachers engage the children in practical activity whilst at the same time teaching them about all the environmental benefits of tree planting. These open-air classes an opportunity for discussion of other issues such as how trees can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
In 2016, 15 schools had trees which were mature enough to harvest. Some trees were sold to be used as electricity supply poles, some were sold for construction and some as firewood. The total income was over £35,000. Two schools used their wood to construct two new classrooms each. So trees planted and tended by children had provided new classrooms for a new generation to learn in.
Forest restoration in national parks
CHASE Africa has been working with the Mount Kenya Trust to reforest cleared areas in the national park. We have completed a pioneering project at Irangi on the East side of Mount Kenya where 10 hectares which were cleared by illegal logging, have been replanted with over 70 different species. We will replicate this elsewhere on Mount Kenya.
Some of the trees are grown by women’s groups who get paid for the seedlings and the rarer trees are supplied by Plants for life International (PLI). By planting such a wide variety of trees this is helping to rebuild a complex bio-diversity.