Greetings from Kwale, people of Wales! It is my sincere hope that you have continued to enjoy these updates through which we communicate the results and impacts of your much appreciated support. During the month of August, we have continued to achieve our mission, which would otherwise have not been realised without your support.
The fight to save Mrima Sacred Forest from proposed mining of niobium and rare earth metals goes on.
The minister in charge of mineral resources visited the site and gave a stern warning to the Cortec Mining Company not to continue with the prospecting until people’s concerns were addressed. At the same time, Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has officially responded to the mining license application made by the company few months ago, taking into account issues raised at a public meeting held in June.
The company has been asked to carry out further consultation, conduct a detailed study of local biodiversity – including the threatened Colobus monkeys – and conduct a detailed radiological study as the area is suspected to be rich in radioactive materials. More importantly, the company has been asked to prove that the forest is not currently ‘gazetted’ (designated) as a National Monument, Forest Reserve and a Nature Reserve.
To ‘de-gazette’ a forest in Kenya, requires both cabinet and parliament approval, so this is going to be a hard task. Civil Society Organizations in Kwale with coordination and support of WWF will continue working with NEMA and others to ensure this area of environmental and cultural heritage is not destroyed.
Meanwhile, a ‘village bank’ is going from strength to strength in helping some of the poorest communities in Kwale district.
Kaya Kinondo village Financial Services Association offers financial services to people living next to three sacred forest blocks in Kwale, namely Kaya Kinondo, Kaya Muhaka and Gogoni.
In the first six months of 2012, 110 new members joined the bank, increasing the number of the members to 835. The association gave credit amounting to US$51,000 during the same period. This is huge amount given that the bank is located in one of the poorest villages in the country. Most of the credit is used to initiate and expand small scale enterprises in the villages – such as improved farming, transport business, tree growing and food kiosks, which are mostly owned and run by women.