Tugen women in front of rangeland governance and management

Meet Peninah Kibos, a Senior Assistant-chief of the Koitegan Community (RECONCILE, 2020) of Kapkechui location, Kisanana Ward, Mogotio Sub-County in Baringo, Kenya. She is a married woman with Children and grandchildren. I asked Mrs. Peninah Kibos about her journey as chief, what she is doing for her community that is contributing to rangeland restoration and governance and how Participatory Rangeland Management (PRM) (ILRI, 2020) has helped her become who she is in the community and here is her interesting story.

“I was appointed assistant Chief for Koitegan in 2014 when women had no idea of several issues including their roles. As a Tugen tribe (National Museums of Kenya , 2010) in the Kalenjin community, women were not being heard or involved in any activities and discussions. This made my life as a woman difficult because my community valued many retrogressive cultural practices.

With the inclusion of gender balance into the constitution of Kenya in 2010, gave me the courage to start attending training and capacity-building programs organized for the community. with knowledge from this training, I had the strength to apply for the chief assistant position because I wanted to share the knowledge with my fellow Turgen women and empower them to change our community.

Before, I worked as a community health volunteer assisting pregnant women and children. On this basis, I received training on First Aid but being a woman, I experienced many challenges such as knife stabbing and because I loved my community and as a leader, I had the obligation to ensure that children are educated by mobilizing the community to fundraise and support children who were not capable of raising schools and also provided support to marginalized women.

In my work as an Assistant Chief, I have learned the importance of rangeland and environmental conservation and right now I believe that environmental protection contributes to pasture availability for animals resulting in good health for livestock. As a leader who is passionate to lead by example, I have never engaged in charcoal burning because learnt that charcoal burning is not a good practice for the environment and I have worked to ensure those engaged in this act are trained on natural resource regeneration and rehabilitation.

I attended many training on Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR https://fmnrhub.com.au/home/about-us/) and have trained people on the same and several community members are also engaged in the same. As a pastoralist woman, I am engaged in honey and milk production from the goats and sheep I keep.

PRM implementation brought a positive impact and change to the community and rangeland resources. Exposure tours and exchange visits given to the community on the importance to conserve and protect forests helped in the formation of the community forest association which is well coordinated and functional to date.

Initially in Koitegan, there was disruption in the forest from poaching, and deforestation, and the vegetation cover was low and you could spot someone at a distance. PRM also helped the community by forming the Community Forest Association to coordinate and manage the forests. This has generated an impact on the community and now a number of the Koitegan community are actively engaged in forest restorations and rehabilitation initiatives as explained in the PRM concept. Initially, there were conflicts of interest in the forest from different locations on timber, herbs, and wood charcoal burning but this has since changed with the implementation and community understanding of PRM since there is no harvesting of old or dry trees in the forest. This led the Koitegan community forest to be identified and documented as one of the forests in the country that can contribute to 10% of vegetation cover in Baringo county. PRM also contributed largely to women’s engagement and participation in several initiatives as a result of training obtained on PRM steps and now they know their roles and are clearly defining and demonstrating them as appropriate. With this knowledge of PRM, Koitegan will be a tourist site and a training center since we have so far planted 5,500 trees in total, 2000 from Kazi Kwa Vijana (standard digital , 2009 ) and 3,500 from PRM.

Read more on PRM and Koitegan Community Forest on;