ALTERNATIVE INCOME

Marsabit residents earn from raw gums and resins

New income an incentive to conserve the trees previously viewed as a source of charcoal

In Summary
  • Swedish International Development Agency has helped the residents to form a cooperative society
  • Cooperative began with a paltry membership of 50 people in 2012 but has increased to 350

Residents of Ndikir village in Laisamis constituency, Marsabit, have found a reliable alternative source of income through sale of raw gums and resins extracted from trees. 

The village is mainly inhabited by members of the Rendille community who are predominantly pastoralist.

Proceeds from the sale of the raw wood products are used to pay school fees and other needs. The new income is an incentive to conserve the trees which were previously viewed as a source of charcoal.

The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has helped the residents to form a cooperative society which buys the products and sells at a higher price.

Residents have been sensitised on the need to stop cutting trees for charcoal burning and instead conserve them to extract gums and resins.

The sensitization programme was driven by Imara, a consortium  supported by World Vision Kenya and the Northern Rangelands Trust.

Wilfred Longeli, vice chair of Laisamis Gums and Resins Marketing Cooperative, said the new source of income has transformed the lives of the pastoralist community.

The cooperative began with a paltry membership of 50 people in 2012, but the number has now increased to 350 as more residents seek to earn from the raw wood products.

“The cooperative has now helped find reliable markets for the gums and resins in companies manufacturing paints and adhesives as well as those producing edibles such as chewing gums. The Catholic Church is also a major client, buying a product known as frankincense which comes from one of the local shrubs,” he said.

 He said that during peak seasons, one family can earn up to Sh5,000 from collecting and selling gums and resins every week.

SIDA country director Sandra Diesel who visited the area called for conservation of trees in order to ensure more harvest and more income to the pastoralist families.