ISLA Program launched in Kenya

‘Building our Flourishing Future’ is the tagline of the ISLA program that was officially launched in Kericho, on June 30. Working closely with the private sector, the program builds on existing efforts a multi-stakeholder dialogue and a governance structure with strong public and civil society involvement. The dialogue is aimed at creating a compelling vision, management and investment plan. National and regional government and private sector explicitly voiced their full support to ISLA.

At the official launch key stakeholders in the landscape dicussed  sustainable management of the South-West Mau forest and resources with a strong link to improving livelihoods of surrounding communities.

Without the Mau Forest there is no tea

The national government was represented by Francis Ole Nkako of the Ministry of Environment and natural resources. Parties recognized the need of investing together in a sustainable future. The crucial role the Mau and its resources for business and livelihoods was underlined in all the speeches.

Simeon Hutchinson, Managing Director at Finlays Kenya Limited, made this perfectly clear that when he stated: “Let´s get to the bottomline, without the Mau there is no tea”.

Richard Fox, trustee at Imirisha Naivasha, pointed out the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach: ‘Water what glues everything and everyone together’.

Francis Kiragu, the Strategic Projects Director at Unilever Tea Kenya, says that the initiative resonates with the global sustainability living plan which aims at zero-deforestation and –achieving 100% green energy by 2018.

Cross learning and upscaling

Isaac Ruto, the governor of Bomet county, stressed the importance of the forest: ‘We live under the Mau’.

Paul Chepkwony, the governor of Kericho county analogized that ‘if we don’t do something about the Mau we will soon be extinct like the dinosaurs.

Especially the government highlighted the importance of community involvement in the Initiative.

Daan Wensing, ISLA director, emphasized the importance of cross-learning and upscaling proof of concept from the Mau landscape to other landscapes.

Over the last one decade, an estimated 25 per cent of the Mau forest has been lost due to human encroachment and excisions. The forest that cuts across a number of counties in the rift valley is a key source of livelihood to millions of people.