View of previously cleared forest area. Transformers CBO is spearheading rehabilitation of such areas to reduce environmental impacts of deforestation.

Courtesy of Yetu

Ronald Keter, secretary of Transformers CBO, notes that the main challenge facing environmental conservation is a lack of understanding of the benefits of tree planting and conservation.

“We work first to change the mindset of the community and show them the benefits and need to conserve the forests,” he said.

In 2019, Transformers CBO was one of the civil society organisations that took part in the Yetu Initiative bootcamp. Yetu is a partnership between the Aga Khan Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen local organisations. Through bootcamps, Yetu equips Kenyan civil society organisations with practical knowledge and skills to mobilise resources locally.

Using the training from the Yetu bootcamp, Transformers CBO was able to establish key partnerships and raise US$ 100,000 (KES 10,000,000).

“We used to write proposals or hold fundraising activities once or twice a year,” Ronald explained. “However, through the bootcamp, we learned that this is an [ongoing] process and we should have someone dedicated to fundraising throughout the year.”

Transformers CBO also learned how to approach and partner with businesses and government institutions to meet their environmental conservation goals. Since participating in the Yetu bootcamp, Transformers CBO has established partnerships with Finlay Tea, Unilever, Kericho County government, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Forest Research Institute.

The partnership with Kenya Forest Research Institute gave Transformers CBO an opportunity to nurture a culture of tree planting and environmental conservation amongst school children. It allowed Transformers CBO to launch a programme to plant fruit trees at public schools in Bomet and Kericho counties. These trees provide much-needed tree cover in the area and produce nutritional snacks for the students. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools down across Kenya in 2020, Transformers CBO had partnered with more than 50 schools to plant over 20,000 trees.

“For me, the Yetu bootcamp was an eye-opener,” Ronald reflected. “[It] helped transform our organisation to where we are – a better place.”

This text was adapted from an article published on the AKF USA website.