Baseline data volunteer, Sitatunga-Kitale (Kenya)

About Sitatunga-Kitale

Sitatunga-Kitale is an initiative of Community Alliance for Change (CAC), a Community Based Organization (CBO) that is based in Trans-Nzoia County of Western Kenya. The organisation is headquartered at the Ministry of Information Office in Kitale town while Sitatunga-Kitale has facilities in Sitatunga Village in Cherangani Constituency, 500m west of Sitatunga Secondary school, 800m East of Saiwa Swamp National Park and around 6km from Kapolet Forest to the North East. Sitatunga-Kitale therefore is instrumental in influencing the restoration of Kapolet Forest as well as in protecting the Saiwa Swamp National Park that is a sensitive ecosystem that hosts the endangered Debrazza monkey, the Gray Crowned Crane as well as the rare Sitatunga antelope according to the IUCN classification. Sitatunga-Kitale and CAC mainly work with the local communities such as the indigenous Sengwer community as well as other key stakeholders and government agencies to achieve this.

The unsustainable human activities around this two resources have had serious negative consequences to their survival and functioning as expected. For example, the Kapolet Forest which is a government forest is completely degraded due to unsustainable tree harvesting, overgrazing and poor management. Today the forest is a plain field infested with the invasive cestrum species as well as spotted indigenous trees, and although Saiwa Swamp National Park is protected, the outside environment is not. The unsustainable farming and destruction of riparian wetlands has had a significant impact on the survival of the park by influencing the wetlands water quality and quantity in the park, its flora and fauna. Today the park struggles to survive when dealing with the invasive elephant grass in its swamps that is threatening the survival of the precious rare and endangered species mentioned above.  

Current status

Sitatunga-Kitale therefore is working with the local community and other partners to reconstruct an approximately 600m buffer zone on River Kapenguria between Wiyeta bridge and where the river enters park to protect the park from external influence. So far Sitatunga-Kitale has effectively mobilised key stakeholders and sensitized the community on the restoration project. In partnership With National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and other local partners, CAC is participating in the development of the Saiwa Swamp Ecosystem Management Plan with support from Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

In February 2023, the Government of Kenya too through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) availed the Kapolet forest for CAC to adopt and restore. The project has been able to mobilise key stakeholders and engage the local community on the same. The project requires approximately 2.6 million seedlings, so far 40,000 seedlings have been planted. Sitatunga-Kitale is still working on fundraising for the two projects.

What the volunteer position involves

We would like to generate baseline data and information to be used as a yardstick for monitoring and evaluation of the impact and the success of the project at short, medium and long term level. The data that the project is seeking to generate includes baseline on existing flora and fauna, social economic practices to include behavior, attitude and practice, basic environmental conditions and later analyze and generate the best socio-economic model to be adopted by the project. Sitatunga-Kitale is therefore seeking volunteer ecologists and zoologist, land use planners and socio-economic modeling experts for the two project, volunteers in the media industry are also needed to document the project. The requested volunteers shall work alongside other local partners to study, analyse and generate data on the above. The roles and responsibility of the needed volunteers shall include liaising with Sitatunga-Kitale and local partners to:

  • Draft project proposals
  • Conduct field studies in their areas of specialty
  • Generate maps of their study areas(where possible)
  • Analyze generated data and produce reports
  • Produce plans and guidelines for project to adopt
  • Present the findings to local stakeholders
  • Publish the findings of the study (optional)

Skills required

All volunteers should have experience in either Zoology/Ecology, land use planning, media or socio-economic modeling, and should have the following skills:

  • Competence in their area of specialisation
  • At least a year experience in their area of specialization
  • Good inter personal and communication skills
  • The ability to adopt and work with rural communities

Where you will live, work and eat

Volunteers visiting and/or staying at Sitatunga-Kitale have three accommodation options:

  • Staying at Sitatunga-Kitale site in Sinyerere Ward where we have a guest house to accommodate them at a cost of USD10 per day. The cost is accommodation only. The volunteers can pay an extra USD10 for breakfast and dinner. Volunteers shall have a little kitchen with basic utensils where they can cook for themselves. This accommodation can host up to 15 volunteers at once. There are hot showers, flushing toilets and pit latrines, as well as running water at the site. Laundry services can be arranged at a small fee.
  • Volunteers who would like to experience the Kenyan rural village life to the core can be hosted by a local family. Volunteers are only expected to pay USD10 for food in this arrangement. Other extras like washing and ironing can be arranged at a small fee.
  • Volunteers who prefer urban life can stay in local guest houses and hotels in Kitale OR Kapenguria town. The average cost of a guest house is between USD35 and USD100 per night.

What you can do in your free time

Soccer or football is the most enjoyed local game. Volunteers can relax by joining local a football team in their free time. Volunteers can also introduce their favorite games to the rural community!

Volunteers can also hike, jog or ride freely in the villages and around the Kapolet forest rehabilitation site. Sitatunga-Kitale can also organise cultural events and activities in which volunteers can participate in to learn more on the local culture. Note that CAC is working with Sengwer-Berur women self-help group from the Sengwer community; a marginalised indigenous forest dwelling community where our volunteers can learn so much about the indigenous way of life and their interaction with forests.

Sitatunga-Kitale also offers tourism opportunities from facilities within the ecosystem, this includes a walk though Saiwa Swamp National park, Kitale National Museum, Waterfalls of Cherangani Hills, a visit to Mt. Elgon National Park, Kitale Nature Conservancy, Kapenguria Museum, visit to the Ndorobo, Sengwer and Marakwet community cultural sites among others.

Volunteers on this site also have the opportunity to tour other fascinating sites in Uasin-gishu, Baringo, West-Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana Counties. They can also visit neighbouring Uganda which is 45km from Kitale town.    

How to apply

If you are excited about this volunteering position, please email your motivation letter and CV to us as soon as possible, along with any questions you have pertaining to this position.

Volunteers can apply for this opportunity by sending an expression of interest stating area of interest to the Community Leader at Sitatunga-Kitale. Please indicate your area of interest, the period you will wish to stay and approximate dates and your choice of accommodation in tour application. We look forward to hearing from you!

Go here to learn more about Sitatunga-Kitale.