Region: Kwale Town, South Coast Kenya
Minimum Stay: 2 Month
The Shimba Hills Forest Guides Association (SHIFOGA) was established in August 2004 by a group of local youths, all of whom had been involved in earlier community initiatives. Initially, the main purpose of the group was to provide reliable and well trained tour guides; who could offer their services to visitors to the Shimba Hills Ecosystem as well as researchers interested in the rich biodiversity of the area. This would thus benefit the local youths and the community in general.
The group has since evolved into other areas, for example, it has initiated its own nature trail through the forest at the outskirts of the Shimba Hills National Reserve to create awareness of the conservation issues important within the community. Since it was established, the group has received support from various stakeholders, including the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and also the group’s supporters committee.
Volunteers/trainees program: The organization hosts both domestic and international volunteers and as well as trainees who are involved in all organizational activities, but may as well carry on activities in relation to their careers.
School education program: This involves visits to or by schools. The program plays a huge role in seeing that young students understand issues on conservation from their early age and be great players in environmental conservation. It is done through class sessions, facilitation, field work, art and design and recently theatrical performance/drama competitions.
Human wildlife conflict mitigation: Human wildlife conflict around the Shimba Hills ecosystem has proven to be a very serious matter. The organization, however, with relevant parties i.e. the Kenya wildlife Services (Kwale),Kenya Forest Services(Kwale) amongst others, engage in finding possible measures and implementing them, to try and reduce the pressure of wild animals invading community farms if not to stop, the impact of wild animals, especially the elephants around areas. We have a number of measures that we are developing to curb the problem e.g. through the support from one of the volunteers we have managed to established beekeeping, and chili pepper planting projects as an alternative ways to reduce the pressure of elephants invading community farms and destroy crops and use of deterrent crops etc. Communities have been fully involved in this project. The continued and successfulness of these projects will highly rely on both financial and technical support to those who care and have the passion to support these promising initiative.
Community Awareness & sensitization on environmental conservation: The organization, through constant meetings and trainings spreads the word on conservation to the communities living adjacent/around and benefiting from the resource (the Shimba hills forest), on how best and sustainably way they can utilize the resources and at the same time benefiting from them.
Research & primates monitoring within the Shimba Hills National Reserve and more in our Nature Trail: Early morning and evening monitoring activities done by the members, volunteers and trainees to determine the on goings in this small forest, and as well compile a reliable data on the Nature trail and its inhabitants
Ecotourism: The programme is aimed at promoting responsible tourism by conserving nature whilst benefiting the local community through offering excursions to the villages therefore involving the local community around the area e.g.; the local people (Digo and Duruma) partake in the demonstration of their culture.
Butterfly farming: Butterfly farming has proved to be an important source of livelihood to some community members. They (the farmers) understand the importance of the forest, and in it they undertake most of their activities e.g. putting up traps, getting butterfly food plants etc. Our organization works hand in hand with these farmers in seeing that they have a market for their products and as well as educate visitors and interested parties on butterfly farming.
Sanitation project: There is a public toilet located in the centre of Kwale town, but a few years ago the facility was poorly managed and maintained; leaving it unpleasant to use for the community. In 2006, SHIFOGA decided that it would take over the upkeep of the toilet facility for the benefit of the town.