Kenyan Connections with Scottish Crofters

Scottish Rural Network

What do small-scale farmers in Kenya and Scotland have in common? More than you'd think as the Kenyan Connections partnership shows.

A fascinating event hosted by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) at Great Glen House in Inverness on the evening of 8th June, showcased the work of the Kenyan organisation NECOFA and their partnership with the Scottish project Crofting Connections.

Despite obvious differences - there are no hippos in the Highlands - the event highlighted that there is much to learn from each other about local small-scale food production, education and protecting biodiversity.

Kenyan Connections aims to establish connections between Crofting Connections schools and NECOFA Kenya schools in order to increase understanding among Scottish and Kenyan pupils, teachers and the wider community of global citizenship, sustainable development, international education and education for citizenship.

Both projects recognise the need to retain population in remote rural areas, by helping pupils to acquire the knowledge and skills required to live and work in their own communities.

Samuel Muhunyu, director of NECOFA Kenya said, "It is our hope that things will work out positively to enable our schools to exchange information and experiences that will increase the knowledge of our youth in world affairs and cultures, making them better global citizens, with a livelihood that treasures life, human rights, culture and the environment."

The Elephant in the Room event at Great Glen House was a culmination of a visit to Scotland by Kenyan teachers and NECOFA project staff. It was hosted by Eileen Stewart, Head of Policy and Advice and Alastair MacGugan of the Wildlife Management team at SNH. The programme was put together by Pete Moore of the Wildlife Management team.

The event was a great opportunity to hear about some of the projects underway in Kenya working with local communities to protect wildlife and provide education and income opportunities.

These included projects looking to add value to traditional activities such as beekeeping, training young people to be community forest guides and opening a community guest house. You can find out more on the NECOFA Kenya website.

Four Crofting Connections schools were awarded funding by the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms to host exchange teacher visits with four Kenyan schools, using food growing in the school gardens as a starting point for learning about local food production and for delivering Learning for Sustainability and Global Citizenship.

The Kenyan delegation spent five days working in their respective partner schools in Orkney, Shetland, Argyll and West Highland. In each area, they met local food producers, including crofters, and teachers and pupils from other schools.

A conference with the wider education community was held at Highland Council Chambers on 8th June.

Find out more about Kenyan Connections on the Crofting Connections website.