Luci Attala in Bore Kenya helping local children at Kundeni School acquire IT skills

Exeter student's community project receives UN Gold Star award

A United Nations Gold Star Award for Environmental Impact has been awarded to a sustainability project that has improved the livelihoods of Kenyan farmers through the provision of trees and a communal water system. The innovative project which connects a Welsh rural community with a Kenyan one is being monitored and evaluated by a University of Exeter PhD student at the request of the Welsh government.

The Welsh government supports local communities in Wales to link with communities in sub-Sahran Africa through a variety of projects. This includes the Community Carbon Link which encourages people in mid-Wales to take responsibility for their carbon emissions by planting tress with the partner community in this drought ridden area of rural Kenya. Funds raised in Wales went towards the implementation of a water supply to support the local tree nursery. Over 170,000 trees have been planted including Cashews and Moringa, crops that provide local farmers with a sustainable income stream. Anthropology PhD student Luci Attala has been embedded within the reforestation initiative and has monitored how people collect and use the water and how it alters their lifestyles. 

The research both documents and evaluates the partnership and examines how water plays a part in building and developing closer relationships between the joined communities. This research seeks to offer an alternative model to sustainable development schemes.

Attala explained:“Kenyan farmers in Bore, are suffering intensely from the effects of increasing desertification, they live hand to mouth and if one or two seasons fail due to drought people die. The impact of climate change -perhaps due to the excesses of the consumer practices of industrial nations - affect marginal sub-Saharan communities such as the farmers in Bore far more than you or I.”

She added:“The community relationships we have forged have made obvious and demonstrable transformations in life-ways on both sides. In a world where we often feel powerless to evoke change, actions like this support us to realise we can make a difference. This cross-cultural relational model demonstrates the worth of small-scale international resource-sharing programmes such as the Community Carbon Link project.”

The UN Gold Award for Environmental Impact was awarded by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM in Cardiff on 4 December.


Date: 18 December 2014

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