Sitatunga Kitale is located in the rural Sitatunga Village in the Trans-Nzoia County of Western Kenya, 800m from Saiwa Swamp National Park. This restoration community takes its name from the rare, endangered Sitatunga Antelope (or marshbuck) that is found in the park. Sitatunga Kitale was created by Community Alliance for Change, a grassroots non profit organisation with a vision of fostering harmonious coexistence for posterity, working in partnership with communities to redress critical environmental and socio-economic challenges affecting our societies now and for future generations. Sitatunga’s close proximity to Saiwa Swamp National Park, as well as the Kapolet Forest on Cherangani Hills (one of the five key water towers in Kenya), key rivers, Mount Elgon Forest and Mount Elgon National Park, makes it a vital location for ecosystem restoration and management in Western Kenya.
Trans-Nzoia County is considered the food basket of Kenya. Overdependence on farming and bad farming habits coupled with excessive use of artificial fertilizer have greatly and negatively impacted on the ecosystem. Soils from surrounding farmlands have in excess found their way to the park through erosion and lack of interventions to control it. This has led to increased siltation of the park. The eutrophication from toxic fertilizers rich soils have led to a decline in the quality of waters finding their way to the park as well as encouraged alien plants to grow in the park. At the moment, the park is struggling to root out elephant grass, an alien grass that was colonizing the parks swamps threatening the existence of the endangered Sitatunga. By mobilizing communities living and farming around the Saiwa swamp, Sitatunga is working to sensitize them on the dangers of degradation, as well providing information on regenerative farming methods and helping improve local livelihoods through introducing them to nature-based enterprises. An environmental resource centre has been built for the communities in Cherangani Hills, and the team is currently working to restore Saiwa Swamp National Park and its ecosystem though recovery and restoration of riverbanks of rivers entering to the park.
Community Alliance for Change has planted more than 350,000 trees and participated in many environmental activities in the region, including Plant for the Planet’s Trillion Tree Campaign, Kenya forest tree planting, Kenya Highways Authority and the County Government of Transnzoia. Ten energy saving stoves have been built for local institutions, and environmental and climate change awareness has been brought to more than 500,000 people since 2012. The next goal is to establish an indigenous tree nursery and seed bank to further support their tree planting efforts. Sitatanga Kitale also works in partnership with Community Alliance for Change (CBO), Kenya Wildlife Services (Saiwa Swamp National Park), Kenya Forest Service and the local community.