Ecologist volunteer, Koromi River (Kenya)

About Koromi River

Koromi Farm is a project with the goal of combining ecosystem conservation, restoration and the production of sustainable timber and non-timber forest products (e.g., honey, tree seeds, and seed oil for cosmetics). The coastal region of Kenya is deeply affected by heavy deforestation, partly induced by the charcoal industry. Therefore, Koromi Farm is aiming to provide a sustainable business model that local communities and landowners can adopt as an alternative to current practices. In order to achieve this goal, the ever-evolving project is adapting modern techniques in agroforestry based on the newest developments in the sector. This model can then be used to provide education and training to local communities.

Since 2019, Koromi Farm has been planting a mixture of indigenous and non-indigenous tree and shrub species, considering the foundations of permaculture. The majority of the trees are and will be planted in areas particularly affected by the charcoal industry (enrichment planting). The Melia trees will be used for timber production once they reach maturity. This makes up about one-third of all species planted and aims to provide a long-term income to the organization. The remaining two-thirds consist of a large variety of mostly indigenous trees and shrubs, such as Earleaf Acacia, Red Pot Terminalia, Wild Plum, Mahogany Bean and Bean Pot Tree. Interplanting these species assures a high biodiversity and thus contributes to the restoration and conservation of the ecosystem. The majority of the seedlings planted are propagated at the house’s own nursery near Malindi (Arabuko Farm). Furthermore, Koromi Farm is working on rainwater harvesting solutions to guarantee enough water during the long and harsh dry seasons in Kenya.

What the position involves

We are looking for an ecological research assistant who can help us to develop or improve the following projects:

  • Gathering baseline ecological data to support future restoration projects. This might include plant species surveys, bird surveys, insect surveys. You will be building on work of previous volunteers and designing your own data collection methodologies.
  • Exploring the farm and mapping/classifying habitats present. There is still a lot we don’t know about the Dakatcha forest ecosystem not a lot of published scientific data to work with, which means there’s lots to discover and learn!
  • Researching different regenerative agriculture techniques. We have a focus on testing different dry climate agroforestry systems which can be rolled out to local communities, and you will input how these designs can benefit biodiversity. Current methods being trialed include supporting ongoing innovation projects such as intercropping, hydroponics, aquaponics, rainwater harvesting, and irrigation.
  • Further development of new methods for sustainable agriculture demonstration in the coastal region of Kenya.
  • Creating digital exposure for Koromi River to stimulate eco-tourism.

Note: It is possible to adjust the work package according to your working experience and personal interests. These tasks are an indication of the potential benefits that a volunteer can bring to the camp.

Skills required

We are looking for a dedicated volunteer who is eager to learn more about rehabilitating the earth. Someone who loves the outdoor lifestyle and has a positive work attitude. Although there is some guidance, we are still looking for someone who enjoys a good adventure and can function autonomously. The volunteer(s) will go in the field and assist us to improve the environmental management of Koromi

Ideally the volunteer should be able to:

Grasp and/or learn data collection methods. We are trialing many different systems and learning about our local environment. At this stage of the project, any skills in designing data collection processes and carrying them out are welcomed!

Monitor and evaluate the progress of the plants and fruit trees. With this information, we can find the right co-existence between humans and nature which we can demonstrate to the different farmers in the region.

Help the restored farm/land perform an even bigger role within the local community. To accomplish our community goals, we are looking for someone who enjoys cross-cultural interactions. On the other hand, projects such as community outreach and many of the mentioned topics can be learned on the job.

Excel through experiential learning. Volunteers will learn by reflecting on the management experiences on the farm. This will eventually create conceptual insights and practical expertise about the topics. We recommend volunteers who have no experience in the activities of the projects on the farm to stay for a period longer than two months. This allows the volunteer to individually work on the project with the knowledge acquired by the experiential learning process.

Relevant experience might include: 

  • Ecological/biological/environmental data collection, either in an academic or professional setting
  • Mapping of environmental features
  • Experience and/or knowledge of private sector mechanisms for funding ecological restoration
  • Work in agroforestry/horticulture techniques including intercropping and propagation
  • Hydroponics, aquaponics, rainwater harvesting, irrigation
  • Marketing and community outreach
  • Practical experience in agriculture/horticulture/land management

Lastly, we would like to emphasize that a positive, hands-on mentality is the most important quality!

What Koromi River offers

Simple lodging at the camp is offered. Here you will be very much part of the indigenous life. From the camp you have a view of the uninterrupted forest across the river basin. The native Dakatcha woodland of this area holds an array of species, many of which you will become quickly acquainted with (or they will become acquainted with you!). The camp is isolated and peaceful and the pace of life is slow. The nearest village approximately is approximately 3km; the nearest substantial settlement is approximately 40 minutes by motorbike. We offer the volunteer 3 meals a day which consists mostly of simple African food. You will be eating and cooking with the current employees which will quickly familiarize you with the Swahilian kitchen. If you enjoy more western food, then you can opt to do your in the nearest city (Malindi). Drinking water is always provided at the accommodation.

Koromi River Farm works with different eco-restoration and agroforestry projects in the area. Therefore, you will be able to visit the different sites and get an overarching understanding of the main developments in eco-restoration and agroforestry. It is possible to also stay at our other project called Arabuko Farm (focus on drought resistant fruit crops and -systems).

During your free time, you have a few activities at your disposal. Apart from exploring the area by foot, bike or motorcycle, you can play games, socialize with the other volunteers and staff, pick up some Swahili from locals or just relax. During weekends, you are free to leave the project area and travel to Malindi for instance. Consider that transport and accommodation are at your own cost during your free time. Furthermore, we can arrange days off in addition to the weekend, during which you can discover other parts of Kenya. To arrange this, just talk to your contact person. We can always make recommendations on where to go and where to stay if you need some inspiration.

What it costs to stay at Koromi River

You can find our weekly rates here, however for long stays different rates apply and after your application has been approved, long-term volunteers (3-6 months) can stay at Koromi Farm at much reduced rates!

How to apply

A truly rewarding and fulfilling experience in Kenya awaits! If you are excited about this volunteering position, please email your motivation letter and CV as soon as possible to Bob (ERC Koromi Leader), with any questions you may have about the position. It is also possible to explain your motivation by a virtual meeting. You can also send your questions on WhatsApp: +254725707814

Learn more about ERC Koromi River