John Bii, chairman of the Upper Kipsonoi Water Resource Users Association, talks to members of one of the affiliate groups about the importance family planning.
“Most families here live on five acres and there appears to be enough land for everyone ... but the population is increasing and in five to 10 years, the area will be overpopulated.”
These are the words of David Koech, a retired army worker who leads the Kapnanda Development Greenbelt Group in Tinet, Kuresoi South, Nakuru County. Kapnanda is one of several groups that make up the Upper Kipsonoi Water Resource Users Association, or WRUA.
After three decades of army service, David runs his private businesses including a primary school. But he also finds time to participate in community affairs. Besides chairing the environmental group, David is a member of the management team of the local dispensary. Kapnanda group is well known for its conservation work in Kuresoi. The group encourages the community members to plant trees on their farms on the fringes of the Mau Forest, the source of some of Kenya’s biggest rivers.
For the past three years, Kapnanda and other groups that belong to the Upper Kipsonoi Water Resource Users’ Association have combined their community conservation work with health education after training by USAID’s Afya Uzazi program in a partnership with the county, the Kenya Forestry Service and other local partners.
“Afya Uzazi has helped us to educate the people, especially about the importance of family planning,” says David.
The groups encourage a holistic approach to family wellbeing that entails caring for the environment they live in and improving people’s access to health services. For several years, their members have been involved in environmental conservation. They have two nurseries that supply seedlings for their tree-planting campaigns. Three years ago, the association partnered with Afya Uzazi to incorporate health promotion in their activities. Through the partnership, the project trained group members to provide health education to the community.
Today, all the groups in the association have integrated health campaigns into their environmental conservation efforts. “During group meetings, community health workers are given an opportunity to lead discussions on how to improve the health of families, including encouraging couples to take up family planning for healthy spacing of children.