GROUP MAKES, SELLS ITEMS

Bamboo trees change lives of Murang'a women

Green Belt Movement offered them land and trained them in environmental conservation

In Summary

• Green Belt Movement has been engaging groups countrywide to plant trees that are useful in mitigating climate change.

• The group has been adding value to their harvest. They make utensils and construction materials, among other products. 

Giant bamboo trees
Giant bamboo trees
Image: Courtesy

Back in 2013, a 24-member group in Maragua, Murang'a, started growing bamboo after getting support from the Green Belt Movement.

Fast-forward to 2019, the Maragua Women's Bamboo Group is manufacturing household items using the plant. They grow it on land owned by the movement. They also play a role in protecting the environment and reducing climate change fallout.  

The women also use bamboo for firewood and burning of charcoal. Chairperson Julia Wangari said the initiative has benefitted members. They no longer struggle to meet their family needs. She said from the training they have received from the movement, which was established by environmentalist Wangari Maathai, they are able to make items and supply them to the market.

The group has been adding value to their harvest. They make utensils and construction materials, among other products. In partnership with the Green Belt Movement, they acquired Savannah Bamboo, a variety that does well in semi-arid areas. It matures within a short time.

Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Kamau lauded the efforts of the women in nurturing the trees to maturity. She said they acquired the land, which borders Mariki Dam, to educate people on the benefits of bamboo trees.

She said the women also trained other residents. "Bamboo is a tree with many benefits and if people in this country can embrace planting the tree, many environmental challenges can be well mitigated,” Kamau said.

Green Belt Movement has been engaging groups countrywide to plant trees that are useful in mitigating climate change. Kamau appealed to well-wishers to help the Women Group market their products.

Waterstone Resources Fiber Kenya CEO Bernt Froshaug underscored the importance of bamboo in environmental conservation. He said bamboo trees are well suited for riverine areas to support a steady flow of water.

Froshaug said more than 14 species of bamboo trees can fit in different climatic conditions and every part of Kenya can get a particular variety.

Murang'a principal environment officer Lawerance Kamau said the county will support local groups to plant bamboo trees, especially in Aberdare forest. He said there are plans to replace eucalyptus trees with bamboo, especially in water catchment areas.

"The Murang'a county government has elaborate plans to plant trees and especially bamboo in water catchment areas during the current rainy season," he said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)