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​A corridor protected by women in Kenya

Michela Trevisan told a splendid story in Combonifem of a redemption by women in Kenya, thanks to a programme against deforestation and to 550 women who formed micro-cooperatives together to recover a future, land and dignity. “Jenliza Mwikamba is 39 and has two children. Five years ago her children slept on the ground and there was no money for their education. Today the children sleep in a bed and attend school regularly”: Jenliza produces and sells coloured baskets. She shares a common story with other women who live in the Kasigau Corridor Project – Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (redd+), a vast protected forest area of more than 2,000 square kilometres in the Taita Taveto district, in south west Kenya. This is a broad strip of land that separates the two National Parks of Tsavo East and Tsavo West, saved from deforestation and degradation thanks to a United Nations programme for forest conservation, started in 1997. As happens in Africa and in many of the poorest areas in the world, here too, as from the second half of the 20th century, to obtain rapid gains the local communities began to attack the territory. Ever larger stretches of forest were burnt to produce charcoal destined for an illegal market. The deforested lands were used to cultivate maize, but the lack of water forced the population to be constantly on the move, always felling new portions of forest to find better land. This dragged the communities to the depths of poverty: the men took to drink and many of the women, to support their families, to prostitution. But it was actually with the women that the renewal began which soon spread to the entire community.

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