The KEEP Story

Kipsaina Education and Environment Partnership (KEEP) is the result of a 25-year friendship between UK filmmaker turned Biology teacher Sam Forsyth, and Kenyan environmentalist, educator and community activist Maurice Wanjala. Maurice runs Kipsaina Crane and Wetland Conservation Group (KCWCG) whose aims are to protect and enhance the vital wetland ecosystems of Western Kenya and, in particular, those surrounding Saiwa Swamp – the smallest National Park in Kenya.

Maurice and his small team work tirelessly to educate the local population about the reduced risk of flood and drought provided by a healthy wetland ecosystem, as well as educating them to protect the endangered Crowned Crane and other unique wildlife that live there. Tree planting is a key part of this work, and the team have planted over a million trees since 1990.

The initial aims of KEEP are to rebuild Kipsaina village primary school and provide the school and community with a clean water bore hole. Kipsaina Primary School currently educates over 450 pupils and is set to expand. The school is in a bad state of repair. The unsealed mud floors of the school harbour crippling foot parasites called “jiggers” which can permanently disable the children that catch them. In addition, there are no sanitary latrines and water is drawn from the local swamp and must be boiled to make it drinkable. Water extraction caused by people and livestock from the wetland area is also a major cause of wildlife disturbance and degradation.

Working with Maurice, KEEP aims to transform Kipsaina Primary, not only into a clean and safe school, but into a showcase for environmental education in which children will be taught hands-on sustainable agricultural practices which will safeguard not just their own future, but the future of the wider community and the special wetland environment they live beside. We are also working to install a permanent clean water supply to the entire community of 200 households which, along with the huge health benefits, will prevent the wetlands from being disturbed. Affordable water metering will be used to generate funds for Maurice’s community work locally.

KEEP is also collecting educational materials including text books, sports and science equipment along with hand tools which are being sent to Kipsaina via an existing commercial shipping container route. The educational materials will be distributed to schools in the KCWCG network and the hand tools will be used to train local young people in woodwork and mechanics.