Would the communities in Kazita Village keep their promises to conserve the forests of Nilo Nature Reserve situated just at their vicinity? The story of Kazita Primary School (KPS) says it all.
At the inaugural time in 2008
the School had two rooms – one being a classroom and the other a general pool for teachers and pre-school children. The one classroom was ‘virtually’ partitioned for use by both Grade One and Grade Two pupils. The partitioning was such that the two Grades would seat facing opposite sides, one Grade was forced to stay in the ‘mute mode’ bending on their desks if the teacher is having classes with the other Grade and vice versa -but this was not easy as it reads. The teachers’ pool accommodated the Head Teacher, Assistant Head Teacher and other teachers.
As a strategy to promote Participatory Forest Management(PFM) – that is broad participation of local communities in forest management of the Governmentowned Nilo Forest Nature Reserve, EAMCEF initiated a series of consultation with local villagers of Kazita Village to agree on possible ways to engage effective participation of local communities in forest management activities. Since EAMCEF’s approach to forest management is through community development interventions, a consensus was reached to support the community build three rooms (two classrooms and one office) for the School in return of the labour and time spent by communities in forest management activities performed through village committee. Before EAMCEF intervention, villagers were invading the protected forests in search for marketable wood products that would give them extra income to afford paying their dues for school construction. Since EAMCEF took up the role, community members stopped their financial contribution but had to repay through participation in forest management. Following support from EAMCEF, the school increased enrolment of new pupils.
This project has encouraged villagers to participate in protection of Nilo Forests, villagers formed environmental committees and participate actively in forest patrols once per week. In the past, we could conduct patrols only once or none per month. We were so happy, and still so to see EAMCEF supporting school construction. Through conservation education provided by EAMCEF, each villager is now a protector of the forest.
The working environment is now conducive, the head teacher has his own office, pupils too have their own rooms. We can see performance of pupils has changed since then. The forest is now free from destruction since parents are no longer invading it for ‘money’.