I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a mixture of excitement, trepidation and adventure. I was touching down at Moi International Airport. It was my first visit to Mombasa. In fact, my first visit to Africa.
That was September 1991. Despite a gap of 30 years, I can still feel that first blast of coastal heat. I can still smell the burning foliage. I can still sense the impact of my first sight of shanty-communities and the press of human flesh on the ferry and the bridges that cross the Kenya’s second city. We were headed North, to a beach resort hotel for a two-week holiday and a life-long love-affair with the continent.
I have since worked in over 20 of Africa’s 54 countries. I have visited the continent approaching 100 times. Three times, in the last four months.
I had agreed to work with co2 Balance to deliver carbon-sequestration projects – initially in Kenya, but with our eyes on a wider portfolio. Since then, we have built a team of dedicated and experienced Kenyan professionals and have began shaping a dream.
The team was asked to evaluate a small collection of boreholes, in Kilifi County, neighbouring Mombasa to the North and North East. From that scoping trip we committed to fixing 60 boreholes in the first month. We began rehabilitation on December 7th – we were done before Christmas.
We repeated the work in January 21 – So by the start of the year we had fixed faulty or defective water-points and provided fresh, clean, abundant drinking water to over 40,000 people living in rural communities in coastal Kenya.
And that’s just the start!
At the start of. February, we joined the Kilifi Environment Minister Mwachitu and his department Director Madame Zenna in a planting of 50,000 mangrove seedlings. The plantations all along the coast are in serious need of work. It’s work that creates and protects coastal diversity, providing breeding grounds for fish and crabs. It guards against coastal erosion and brings livelihoods and food-sources for the communities.
We are managing two programmes of Magrove plantations currently, over an area of approximately 200 acres. We anticipate increasing this area to 10,000 hectares in the coming months.
These programmes have enormous impact on the communities they serve. If that was we the extent of the benefit, it would be enough. But what gives me the greatest satisfaction is that the work, through harvesting the carbon-credits, creates a circularity of funding.
The old model of donor-driven initiatives is changing. Now invested funds can be re-paid, often with a surplus, and the money re-invested for more development programming.
For the moment, at least, there seems little shortage of desire to get involved. The world’s economies are ‘greening,’ albeit slowly. But while that change is taking place there is a both a desire and an obligation to re-balance the carbon equation. Historically polluting economies in the global north are beginning to repay a debt to the economies of the global south, where the impacts of man-made climate change are felt the most.
And my 30-year love affair with Africa looks set to continue at least to the end of my working life. And who knows, maybe through the generation growing up beneath me.