Meet Yacouba Sawadogo: The man who stopped the desert.

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Hailing from Northern Burkina Faso, Yacouba Sawadogo was born 72 years ago and struggled as a young man to understand what was happening in the degrading environment. On realizing that there was a crisis, he made a wise decision and took action to reverse the situation. He is a famous farmer known for his good deeds of having grown a 40-hectare forest on barren land which has now more than 60 species of trees and bushes. Yacouba Sawadogo was one of the keynote speakers during the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum that was held in Bonn Germany.

Yacouba Sawadogo and I during the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany.

In early 1980s when crops failed and famine struck, some people died and many others opted to leave the rural areas to find income in the cities. However, Sawadogo chose to move back from the city to his rural village in order to find a solution to the crisis. He reintroduced and further developed a traditional farming technique known as “zai” in his local language.

The technique builds on experimenting with traditional planting pits for soil, water and biomass retention. Instead of just cutting the hard crust of soil to create planting pits, he dug the pits bigger, deeper, and put manure in them during the dry season. He then added elements like rock walls, and termites and created the magic formula to enhance water retention and fertility in deeply depleted soils.

At the very beginning, Yacouba was thought to be a “madman” and faced much resistance from locals to an extent that he saw his forest set on fire. Despite all this, Yacouba chose not to give up. In fact, people came to admire his work over time and he has continued to receive thousands of visitors from the region and beyond who are always eager to learn from him.

“This project is for future generations. I don’t want to eat today and leave future generations with nothing to eat. The work I do is to create the seeds for wealth – not only for Burkina Faso but for many other countries.” Yacouba Sawadogo. In the same spirit, Yacouba has continued to empower farmers to regenerate their land by organizing trainings. As a result of his efforts, tens of thousands of hectares of severely degraded land has been restored to productivity in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Sawadogo’s technique is one that can be adopted towards food secure nations worldwide as it helps conserve rainwater and improve soil fertility. This means that farmers can still produce crops even in years of drought. The trees planted alongside crops can help produce fodder for livestock, enrich soil and also create business opportunities such as bee keeping. This technique is one of the best climate change adaptation measure and can help reduce poverty and prevent natural resources and water conflicts.

Yacouba prepares the soil by filling holes with compost

Yacouba Sawadogo is one of the 2018 right livelihood award laureate for turning barren land into forest and demonstrating how farmers can regenerate their soil with innovative use of indigenous and local knowledge. He vowed to stop the desert, and he made it because he moved from commitment to action. It is possible. The future of this planet belongs to all of us and all of us must do something to protect it.

10 Forest Facts You Never Knew

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  1. Every minute we lose 60 football fields worth of forests to deforestation. That’s one football field lost every second. Global deforestation is on an upward trend, threatening various efforts aimed at tackling climate change and the massive decline of wildlife. In 2017, the data from a global satellite survey revealed that the world lost more than one football pitch of forest every second.

    Oil palm estate and rainforest in malaysian Borneo
    Oil palm estate and rainforest in malaysian Borneo
  2. 1.6 billion people on this planet depend on forests for their daily livelihood. The first-ever survey on forest genetic resources by FAO called for urgent measures to protect forest resources as they provide a range of economic, health and ecological benefits. Out of the 1.6 billion people depending on forest for daily livelihoods, 60 million indigenous people are almost wholly dependent on forests for livelihood. Forest tree species have evolved into some of the most genetically diverse organisms in existence and if urgent conservation measures are not taken, the increasing population pressure may lead to the loss of forest genetic resources.
  3. 20% of the planets oxygen is produced in the amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest has always been described as the “Lungs of our Planet” as it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. Actually, more than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rain-forest.

    Amazon rainforest
  4. 80% of the world’s plants and animal species depend on forests for their homes. Forests are so much more than a collection of trees. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. These ecosystems are complex webs of organisms that include plants, animals, fungi and bacteria.
  5. 1 out of 4 medicines we take are derived from plants and trees. Aspirin was made from willow trees! We could be losing the next wonder medicine that cures everything. Over 8000 tree-species that represent 10% of the earths’ trees are threatened with extinction. This is as a result of the degradation of woodland and forest habitat or unsustainable timber production. The Woolly willow is one such species; a bushy willow found only in mountain areas.

    Willow tree where aspirin is made from
  6. We got a Methuselah, 5000 years old-oldest tree in the world. Bristle-cone pine tree located in White Mountains California. However, the exact location of the gnarled, twisted Methuselah is a Forest Service secret, for its protection.

    Methuselah bristle-cone pine
  7. 4 primary drivers of tree loss: Beef, Soy, Palm oil and Timber. These are by far the leading causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the world. Beef is recognized as the worst deforestation culprit as well as a major cause of climate change. The increase in soy production resulting from its rising use in the livestock sector as animal feed has also led to forest loss. Increasing demand for wood and wood products as well as palm oil for bio-diesel and use in processed foods, has also led to the massive loss of forests.
  8. Cutting down trees releases the same amount of annual carbon into the atmosphere as all cars, trucks, planes and trains in the world combined. It might take a long time before we transform the world’s transportation fleet to be emission-free. However, right now, if we focus on halting the cutting and burning of tropical rain-forests, we could eliminate 17 percent of all global emissions. Trees help stabilize climate which helps reduce natural disasters such as forest fires, floods and landslides.
  9. There are over 60,000 tree species on this planet. According to the first ever comprehensive list of tree species compiled and released by scientists from the U.K.-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the list of all known tree species totals to 60,065 different kinds.

    Avenue of Baobabs in Western Madagascar.
  10. 150 species a day become extinct because of habitat loss. According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. This follows a scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every day. This is actually greater than anything the world has experienced ever since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago.

Author,  Liz Mazingira. Reach out: 0726309533.

Twitter handle: @   #UnkownForestFacts

21-year-old following in Wangari Maathai’s footsteps

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What would the average Kenyan do if they ‘failed’ their KCSE? Give up perhaps. I was tempted to do the same but I did not My name is Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti. I am 21-years-old, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and community development at Kenyatta University. In 2013, when the KCSE results for 2012 candidates were announced, I was heartbroken to learn I had scored 58 points.

I know 58 points is a lot – enough to earn anyone admission at any institution of higher learning. But for me, they were not enough. They were a point shy of JAB (Joint Admissions Board) cut off mark – which I needed if my dream to get into university were to come to fruition. I could not attend university as a private student. I knew that my mother, Margaret Wathuti, would not be able to raise the money needed to make this a reality. So when I saw my name below the line separating those who made it for JAB, I was depressed. So much so that my mother sent aunties over to tell me that there are many other things I could do with my life, that all was not lost. I wasn’t even listening. In my mind there was no other place to go to except the university.  I opted to go back to school and resit the exam and when the 2013 results were announced in 2014, I had scored 65 points.

My efforts had paid off and I could finally get university education and become the person I have so strongly wanted to become: an environmentalist. This is a quest I take seriously. Especially at this moment after being declared one of two 2016 recipients of the Wangari Maathai Scholarship, established by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Green Belt Movement and Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). This was my second attempt. I applied as a first year student in 2015 and although I did not qualify, I never gave up — that is my strongest quality. In fact, when I asked Melvin Chibole of KCDF why I won the second time round he told me: “You are doing so much for the environment already. The fact that you never gave up applying again worked to your advantage.” Wangari Maathai was a big inspiration for many in Tetu. She was my member of parliament when I was a young girl. I read books about her. My mother would tell me that if I wanted to meet Maathai so much I should study hard – like Maathai.

People tell me I have a lot of passion for the environment. This, I believe, could be because I have managed quite a few feats compared to many 20-year-olds at my university. For instance, in my second year, I was already the chairperson of Kenyatta University Environment Club (KUNEC). I had risen from being a first year representative to vice-chairperson, and then chairperson — within two years. They have been witnesses of the numerous clean-ups I have organised as well as the tree planting activities I have been involved in. That is pretty much how I spend my time. I have also been previously elected project coordinator at Africa Youth Initiative for Climate Change (AYICC), a pan African forum for young people who love the environment.

Currently, I run an initiative called Green Generation Initiative whose main aim is to nurture more young environmental enthusiasts through conducting environmental education sessions as well as tree planting activities through adopt a tree campaign. I am also a full member of the Greenbelt movement. What Maathai achieved with her life is insurmountable. It however, feels good knowing that I am right on track — following her footsteps and giving back to mother Earth.

Bank On Me Sanitary Towel Campaign Launches Digital Donation Drive

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Musician King Kaka through the Kaka Empire Foundation is on a quest to raise 100,000 sanitary towels to keep needy girls in school through an initiative dubbed Bank on Me Sanitary Bank Campaign. Macintosh Shot 2018-08-29 at 14.25.33.png

In partnership with, Kim-Fay, local manufacturer of Confidence Sanitary Towels, and iPay, an innovative online payment processing company, the Sanitary Bank Campaign has launched a digital donation drive for greater public participation.  The move is expected to encourage more people to make their financial donations online via mobile money, mobile banking and credit cards, to give girls confidence to stay in school.

Speaking about the initiative, King Kaka said, “This campaign is about recognizing the right of education for girls.  Ministry of Health research shows that 65% of girls in rural and slum areas engage in transactional sex because they cannot access sanitary towels. We deeply appreciate partners, well-wishers and influencers who have come on board to intervene and make our vision a reality.”

Initiated in March 2018, the campaign is designed to complement Government efforts through Private-Public Participation platforms to give girls free sanitary towels. So far over 10 key partners and numerous influencers have joined the campaign enabling over 10,000 girls in Machakos, Lamu, Thika, Turkana and Trans Nzoia, access to pads and more importantly increased school attendance.
Music Artist King Kaka (Left) onboards new partners Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager (Center-Left), Andrew Muriithi (Center-Right) and Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa, (right) to the Bank on Me Sanitary Towel Campaign. The initiative has launched a digital donation drive to engage public participation to help keep 100,000 needy girls in school by giving them free sanitary towels.


Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Brand Manager at Kim Fay, expounded on the school visits, “Beyond donating the sanitary towels to the schoolgirls, the team visiting schools is also giving hygiene tips on proper disposal of the pads, importance of hand washing as well as self esteem conversations to help the adolescents navigate their puberty years.”
Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager, at the launch of Music Artist – King Kaka’s Bank on Me Sanitary Towel digital donation drive. So far over 10,000 girls have received Confidence Sanitary Towels since the launch of the initiative in March 2018.
iPay MD, Philip Nyamwaya explained the need for transparent digital donation drives saying, “We offered our technology to the Bank On Me campaign to simplify and accelerate the donation process and also enable secure monetary donations from the general public globally.”
                                                                                                                                                                    “Cash donations from as little as Kshs 5/-, mobile money Mpesa, Eazzy Pay or Airtel Money and Safaricom Bonga points can also be used. This will be tracked on website to verify and vet amounts given to purchase Confidence pads for girls,” he added.
Music Artist King Kaka (Left) appreciates Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa for donating the technology to run the digital donation drive as part of his contribution to the Bank On Me Sanitary Towel Campaign which aims to keep 100,000 girls in School by providing free sanitary towels.
King Kaka, who is also a UNICEF Advocate and among the keynote speakers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goal Keepers event in New York, will be representing Kenya to speak about the Sanitary Bank initiative. The campaign continues to invite partners to help educate girls and reverse the statistics that 88% of girls in remote Kenyan schools have no access to sanitary pads and 1 in 3 girls, misses approximately 4 days of school every month due to lack of sanitary pads.


Campaign partners: UNICEF, Allan Chesang Foundation, Pace, Better 4  Kenya,  One FM, Skyward Express, Executive Water, IQ Marketing, Confidence Sanitary Towels, Zamara, Zetech University Symmatech Solutions amongst others. Influencers: (Miss Earth Kenya, Kaka Empire And Kaka Empire Foundation, Kalekye Mumo, Anerlisa Muigai, Caroline Mutoko, Janet Mbugua amongst others.

Music Artist King Kaka (Left) on boards new partners Josephine Ngigi, Confidence Sanitary Towels Brand Manager (Center) and Philip Nyamwaya, CEO iPay Africa, (right) to the Bank on Me Sanitary Towel Campaign. The initiative has launched a digital donation drive to engage public participation to help keep 100,000 needy girls in school by giving them free sanitary towels.
For More information please contact:
Ms Akumu Ang’iro –
PR and Marketing Manager,
Kaka Empire Limited,
Cell: O721 785 975, 0789550553,

Factories Going Green: Kim-Fay Rolls Out A Clean Energy Business Plan

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Kim-Fay, a leading local manufacturer of personal care, tissue, & hygiene products, has plugged into the National Green Industry Action Plan with the installation of 382 Solar Panels on its factory roof. Kim Fay joins the growing number of green factories in Kenya seeking to increase operational efficiency while reducing their electric-power carbon footprint.  The manufacturers’ Clean Energy Initiative underpins Kenya’s Green Industry Action Plan designed to promote the adoption of new energy efficient solutions to help factories meets Kenya’s vision 2030 clean energy goals.

(L-R) Raj Bains, Kim-Fay East Africa CEO receives commemorative plaque from Ron orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure upon successful installation of 382 Solar Panels on the factory’s roof as part of their Clean Energy Initiative dubbed Reduce Today Respect Tomorrow. Kim-Fay’s goal is to be 100% self-reliant on renewable energy by 2022.

Speaking about the initiative Raj Bains, Managing Director, Kim-Fay said, “We are energized by our Clean Energy Business Plan which is geared towards safeguarding our world for future generations.  Our goal is to have 100% of our energy requirements from renewable energy and be totally self sufficient by 2022.” “Dubbed Reduce Today, Respect Tomorrow, the overall impact of the initiative goes beyond improving Kim-Fay’s operational efficiencies; it’s a tool to integrate clean energy use into a unique sustainability business model. This will reduce costs on various levels of production from design to manufacturing, thus enabling customers to enjoy quality affordable hygiene brands” explained Raj

Ron Orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure Kenya, the company that installed Kim-Fay’s solar panels said, “Investing in solar energy is a smart move for factories because solar panels last long and have few maintenance problems compared to other sources of power available. In addition, the energy is free, clean and renewable.”  Guided by UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable Clean Energy, which highlights the importance of industries like Kim Fay, adopting cost-effective technology to reduce the global electricity consumption by 14%, Kim-Fay is building on its organizational ethos which is to Uplift Lives.

(L-R) Raj Bains, Kim-Fay East Africa CEO receives commemorative plaque from Ron orlovsky CEO, Solar Power & Infrastructure upon successful installation of 382 Solar Panels on the factory’s roof as part of their Clean Energy Initiative dubbed Reduce Today Respect Tomorrow. Kim-Fay’s goal is to be 100% self-reliant on renewable energy by 2022.

“This begins with the understanding that the way we use resources today shapes the world of tomorrow. And as part of our sustainability vision, we are committed to actively encourage our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same so that together we drive the message home,” added Raj.

Looking at Kim Fay at a glance, the company is adopting a phased approach to implement a clean energy initiative. The main goal of the company is to have 100% of the energy requirements from renewable energy and be totally self sufficient by 2022. Through this initiative Kim Fay will focus on reducing consumption at every stage of the product lifecycle – from design and manufacture to distribution and disposal.

Just to note:

  • 35% of Kim Fays’ total power is currently from solar energy
  • Phase one involved installation of 382 solar panels installed at the factory.
  • This equates to 16,267 KWH per month of electricity and approximately 195.2MWH of clean solar energy each year.
  • Did you Know?  The earth receives more energy from the sun in just 1 hour than the world uses in 1 whole year.

About Kim-Fay:

Kim-Fay specializes in manufacturing superior quality personal care, tissue & hygiene products for the East African Market.  Fay, which is the company’s flagship brand, has been trusted by Kenyan households for over 25 years.It is a market leader across numerous product categories, and has established itself as one of the strongest consumer household brands in the region. With a goal of embracing the latest global hygiene trends for East Africa, Fay has well established products of choice, in categories such as toilet paper, facial tissues, serviettes, aluminum foil, cling film, baby diapers & feminine hygiene products.

The rolling out of a clean energy business plan by Kim Fay shines light to other companies on the need to go green by completely switching to clean and renewable energy for a sustainable future.

For more information please contact

Mary Gitari, Brand Spark PR , Email:

Andrew Mureithi , Marketing Manager – Kim Fay,Email: