SANGO Diaries, Chapter 40. Earth Day Reminds Us of the Importance of Protecting the Environment

The first Earth Day was held in 1970 to bring attention to the need to protect the environment. Now, more than 50 years later, we are still striving towards that goal.

Protecting the environment, is much more than an ideal for farmers. It has a direct impact on their daily lives, on their ability to feed their families.

Protecting Soil

In our initial meetings, before we even started SANGO-Kenya, farmers told Connie and me that they knew poor soil was a key cause of food insecurity. They told us they knew they needed to use compost in their farms, but they couldn’t afford to buy it and they didn’t know how to make it. So they bought inorganic fertilizer, even though they knew it was expensive and would harm their farms.

Now, at the beginning of every program year, the first training the farmers receive is how to make compost. We encourage them to make it throughout the year and store it, as above, so they can use it on all of their crops. Some of the farmers’ husbands are also now using the method we taught the farmers because they see how much better their crops look!

“SANGO came and we got trained on compost making and its benefits. Bit by bit our soil has started to regain its capability on moisture retention and our vegetable harvest has increased, even with the little rains,” one of our farmers explained.

Protecting Trees

SANGO-Kenya helps protect the environment in other ways. Farmers mostly rely on firewood for cooking. As we all know, cutting down trees damages the environment in multiple ways: trees absorb carbon dioxide; cutting them down is a significant contributor to global warming. Additionally, trees help prevent soil erosion.

While farmers must use firewood for cooking, we are helping them use significantly less of it. Last year we began promoting energy-saving cookstoves like the one above. These stoves use 1/3 to 1/2 less firewood than conventional cookstoves, and they keep the food warm longer. In addition to being better for the environment, they also save the farmers time as well as money. And, as we taught the farmers how to make them themselves, they cost very little.

“Sustainable practices such as composting and energy saving jikos [cookstoves] are not only good for the environment, but they also greatly improve farmers’ living standards, saving the farmers time and money that can be used for their children’s school fees and other necessities,” explained SANGO-Kenya’s Program Officer Winnie Atieno. She added, “These practices become increasingly important as we see the increasing impacts of climate change.”

Protecting Health

And all of this leads to better health for the earth, the farmers, and their children.

Erokamano. Asante. Thank you. None of this would be possible without you.

The SANGO-Kenya farmers, their families — and Winnie, Evance, Peter, Franck, Connie, and Kit

On this Earth Day, we happily celebrate the accomplishments of the SANGO-Kenya farmers!

There are still many challenges, but thanks to you and your support, we are making progress!

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