One of the most exciting things for me having joined the Camps family is the challenge ahead of putting long term strategies in place for our projects. Camp Kenya has created an amazing foundation within communities and across a host of different environments and now we are asking, “where do we see our projects in five years?” It’s complex but the glaring reality staring at us in the face is this buzz phrase: “Income Generation” There is no hiding the fact that the majority of Kenyans are poor. There is also no point in assuming that a poor person ought to take responsibility for protecting their environment when they can barely feed themselves or pay school fees. The world of conservation and environmental protection has finally woken up to this reality. I personally, am really impressed to see such a big organisation like WWF focusing on support sustainable and environmentally friendly income generating projects. Sorry, that was a mouthful! So here is our little story about where we see ourselves in five years bearing in mind the above context… A couple of years ago I set up a programme for Camp Kenya in a little village on the periphery of Tsavo National Park. One of the things we did is helped to initiate an aloe vera growing project. As you all know, aloe is a very popular product for soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, etc but what you may not know is that it grows very very well in semi-arid areas like Tsavo and even better is the fact that elephants and other wildlife don’t eat it! The formula here is support alternative commercial crops that farmers can grow without losing the entire harvest to wildlife. Aloe takes a while to grow and the next stage is not that simple. There are all sorts of things to learn in terms of how to harvest the gel and the sap, make quality soaps and shampoos. My wife and I have been engaged with this little village since and have been trying to find someone appropriate to train the aloe growers on a cost effective way to make products from aloe. Now here is the exciting part. After joining Camp Kenya on a full time basis, I have been working closely with the WWF office here who has been partnering with Camps on various environmental projects that we have blogged about before. One of the projects they have been supporting is small growers of aloe in the coastal province and community based production. I met Lipi who runs a small aloe business the other day and was very excited to see all the products he is making Not only will we stock his products at our camps with all profits being allocated back to our projects, Lipi is also more than happy to go and train the community in Kajire on how to make all sorts of delicacies without a machine! And now comes the full cycle. The farmers that we helped buy the first lot of aloe from Kajire village will now sell seedlings to another area where we are working through Imani Womens’ Group. We will help to purchase up to 1000 seedlings which will then be distributed to another 50 or so farmers as a loan. By ‘loan’ I mean that when the farmer has enough seedlings, they will give an equivalent amount to another farmer and that way, hopefully in a couple of years there will be enough aloe growing around Tsavo by local farmers to make it a commercially viable product both for local market and maybe even the international market! So, for those of you coming down this summer, prepare yourself for a little aloe adventure on the plains of Tsavo… [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:null,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image aligncenter size-full wp-image-599″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”217″,”height”:”169″,”title”:”aloe vera”,”alt”:”aloe vera”}}]]