7 Oct 2014

SSG institutional capacity building crucial to biodiversity conservation

SSG member recording GPS coordinates in a eucalyptus woodlot outside Yala swamp (Photo: NatureKenya)
By Obaka Torto

Local community members in Yala and Dunga have identified institutional capacity building and resource mobilization, as key for effective Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) conservation. The capacity of Site Support Groups (SSGs) and other conservation groups in Yala and Dunga wetlands should be strengthened with the aim of becoming reputable institutions that the county government can consult on development matters that might affect biodiversity in the Lake Victoria Basin. It is against this background that 30 local community members including 15 SSG members from Yala and Dunga were trained in Group Leadership and Management between 23rd and 26th of September 2014.

Pondering over the future of Yala swamp (Photo: NatureKenya)

Results of detailed organisational capacity assessments of SSGs in Dunga and Yala were held earlier to identify capacity gaps. This enabled members to recommend areas that needed training. Topics included financial management skills and record keeping, group dynamics, leadership styles and qualities, character modeling in leadership, tools for enhancing transparency and accountability in community groups, meeting management, roles and skills for management committees, and conflict management for community groups. An action plan that will assist participants to implement lessons learned during the training was developed, and NatureKenya will provide technical support through their site officer.

Participants from Dunga and Yala IBAs during a Leadership and Management training workshop at Villa Hotel in Siaya  (Photo: NatureKenya)

During the three day training, early morning bird walks were conducted, led by SSGs members and trained participants in bird identification. Thirty-five bird species, including Common bulbuls Pycnonotus barbatus, Speckled mousebirds  Colius striatus and Little Bee-eaters Merops pusillus, were sighted.

This training was organised and facilitated by NatureKenya through a project funded by The Aage V Jensen Charity Foundation entitled “Conservation of the birds and biodiversity of the Lake Victoria Basin (the Greatest of Africa’s Great Lakes) through community-led action and sustainable development”. The project is being implemented by BirdLife International in collaboration with national Partners of Kenya (NatureKenya), Uganda (NatureUganda), Rwanda (Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda) and Burundi (Association Burundaise pour la protection de la Nature).

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Story by Joan Gichuki, Nature Kenya