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Reduced wood consumption contributes to climate protec-tion in the tea-growing regions

In Kenya, two-thirds of the population use firewood and charcoal as their primary sources of energy. Forests have shrunk dramatically as a result – with devastating consequences for the environment. A lot of wood is also used in the tea-processing factories in Kericho County. The objective of this project is to develop sustainable strategies for climate protection in Kericho. To this end, data is collected on energy consumption and possible strategies are identified which will then be tested by target groups from the population. 


Country / Region / Place
Kenya, Kericho

Target group
60 households, six schools, one tea factory

Funding requirement
CHF 146,769

Project duration
15.11.2017 to 14.11.2018 (12 months)

Project number

Project objectives
As part of the project, strategies for climate protection and for the enhanced adaptive capacity of the local population to climate change are identified and tested.

Project coordinator
Kristen Müller, Tel: 041 419 22 76, kmuellerto make life hard for spam bots@to make life hard for spam botscaritasto make life hard for spam

Africa / Latin America


Background information

Kenya is one of the emerging economies south of the Sahara and has set itself the objective of becoming an industrialised, middle-income country by 2030. An important element in this is access to sustainable energy for its inhabitants. However, there is still a long way to go. Currently, two-thirds of the population use firewood and charcoal as their primary energy source, and in rural areas, up to 90 per cent do so. In addition to private households, agricultural and industrial enterprises, as well as schools, consume energy generated from wood to operate machinery, for cooking or heating.

Even today, Kenya would have a deficit of two million tons if it only harvested as many trees as are planted as replenishment. Clearly, the demand for wood cannot be met sustainably. The Kenyan population is growing by 2.6 per cent each year. Assuming the same rate of growth, this means a doubling of the population by 2050, and a further increase in demand for wood. The country, which at one time was covered with lush forests, is suffering from serious deforestation and often illegal logging. Today, only six per cent of the land area is still covered in forests. If there is any afforestation, this mostly takes the form of monocultures – with serious consequences for the environment: soil erosion and a decline in soil fertility are widespread, rivers increasingly carry less water, and the groundwater level drops. At the same time, social conflicts over fertile land and water are increasing.

Kericho County is located in the west of Kenya and consists of five sub-counties with an administrative capital, Kericho Town. The County has fertile land and is at an average altitude of 2,000 metres. The majority of the more than one million inhabitants are small farmers.

Kericho is known for the cultivation of tea, one of Kenya’s chief exports. The tea factories in Kericho employ more than 200,000 people. However, tea processing is very energy-intensive. The burning of wood produces steam, which drives the equipment used for drying the tea leaves. The wood is grown in the factories’ own monocultures or bought on the market. Often, it comes from Kenya’s last indigenous forest: the Mau Forest.

Caritas Switzerland has worked in East Africa for several decades, and is represented in Kenya with its own country organisation. Caritas Switzerland’s engagement in Kenya focuses mainly on the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, climate change and humanitarian aid. The geographic focus of work on the ground is in the regions of Marsabit and Kericho.


What are we doing?

The objective of the present project is to identify sustainable strategies for climate protection in Kericho which at the same time strengthen the capacity of the local population to adapt to climate change. The identified strategies are designed to extensively reduce CO2 emissions, and at the same time meet the needs of the rural population for affordable energy. In a first step, a comprehensive survey is conducted on the existing practices and energy systems in a tea factory, six schools and sixty private households. In a second step, potential strategies for climate protection are identified, which will subsequently be tested by the target groups and, if necessary, further improved. This ensures that at the end, only strategies which are genuinely sustainable are chosen.

The following specific activities are carried out during the individual steps:

  1. The target groups analyse, jointly with the project team, the risks to which they are exposed due to climate change. In this connection, they also examine what benefits they derive generally from an improved adaptation to climate change and climate protection. For this purpose, supplementary key data about energy consumption in the chosen tea factory, the schools and private households is collected. This takes into account, among other things, the nature and intensity of the use of various energy sources, as well as the energy systems used, as for example the type of drying facility in the tea factory. Furthermore, common practices such as the cooking habits of private households are recorded. Finally, the origin of the different energy sources is recorded.  
  2. With the help of the collected data, potential strategies are then identified for climate protection in Kericho and evaluated with regard to their feasibility. This could, for example, mean optimised ventilators for factories or more energy-efficient stoves for cooking in private households and schools. But improved storage and drying of the wood can also increase its calorific value and make energy generation more efficient. Other possible strategies relate to the area of sustainable cultivation of wood and aim to reduce soil erosion and water consumption. In order to confirm the suitability of the identified strategies, they are then tested by the target groups. This ensures that the strategies meet the needs of the end users or, alternatively, that they are further improved. This increases the chances that the strategies are used effectively and for many years.  
  3. Based on the results of the first two steps, those strategies are chosen that both contribute substantially to climate protection in Kericho and promote the capacity of the target groups to adapt to climate change.

The project lays the foundations for future projects by Caritas Switzerland in Kenya in the field of combating climate change. It is implemented in cooperation with Caritas Kericho and closely monitored by a team of climate specialists of Caritas Switzerland.


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