UN farmers in the Mau Forest, Kenya

Restoring God's Bathroom: The Sustainable Livelihood Development Project in the Mau Forest Complex:

The Mau Forest Complex is the largest of Kenya’s five main water towers, feeding twelve important rivers and five major lakes, providing a major water source not only for Kenya but across East Africa. A number of important ecosystems depend on water originating from the Mau Forest, including the Masai Mara and Nakuru National Parks and Lake Victoria, as well as hydro electricity production and urban water supplies. The deteriorating conditions of the forest resources in the Mau Forest have led to the growing concerns in recent years as they threaten not only the forestry and agricultural sector, but the livelihoods of millions of people living in Western Kenya and beyond. The key strategy of the Kenyan government to address the issue has been to promote the involvement of local populations in forest protection through the establishment of Community Forest Associations (CFAs). However, the extensive post-election violence of January 2008 not only resulted in the destruction of forest areas and related infrastructure but also divided communities and undermined the CFAs. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) have worked together in Kenya to protect the Mau Forest and to create sustainable livelihoods for people who live close to forest areas using two FAO developed tools: Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and RuralInvest. The initiative increased adoption of sustainable livelihood activities by communities and rebuilt peace among community members, which in turn contributed to conservation of the complex.