Chuowe beach is in Karachuonyo North Sub-County in Homabay County. It is a low lying area prone to heavy rains and flooding that leads to siltation (a high contributor of pollution to the lake).
Due to high poverty levels, the community along the Chuowe beach has not taken steps to curb environmental degradation. The diminishing fish stocks in the Lake have lead the community to seek alternative income through sand harvesting. This latter practice is done haphazardly leading to loss of the top soil for farming (denying the community an additional means to sustain their livelihood), roads being impassable and in recent times, it has been reported by the media as a calamity that exposes the graves and the dead in a disgraceful manner. Despite engaging in sand harvesting, the community’s economic status has not changed due to the presence of middle men who purchase the commodity at very low rates.
The DaCCA (Devolution and Climate Change Adaptation) program through Umande Trust in its project, ‘‘adapt a stream, ignite a beach”, has mobilized and sensitized the community in Chuowe beach (including school going children) to participate in tree planting to reclaim the wasted land not only for environmental conservation but also for economic gain. The approach allows women groups, youth groups and environment clubs in schools to develop tree nurseries while advocating for growing the same trees in the neighborhood. The project not only solves the problem of accessing seedlings for planting but also ensures income generation to the various groups.
The program has managed to establish a vibrant environmental club in Osodo Mixed Secondary. Aluora Makare Youth group is taking lead in training the youth on climate change and tree planting and also mounting an advocacy campaign for residents to plant more trees and to rethink how they engage in sand harvesting in the area. Willis Okeyo Omullo, an empowered climate change ambassador states, “We are looking at a sustainable tree planting program. Gradually, we are realizing our gains even if the seedlings take time to germinate. We are encouraging rain water harvesting and setting up off storage tanks to cushion the farmers during the dry spells. Farmers are also being sensitized to allow trees to be planted in their compounds. We hope that the beach will be rehabilitated through concerted efforts.’’