KIGAAGA ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION CENTER PROJECT.

With support from JGI Switzerland, JGI in Uganda is running KEEP for 3yrs within communities and 10 Primary schools in 7 (seven) villages of Kiziranfumbi and Buseruka sub-counties in Hoima district. The Kigaaga Education Centre (KEEC) is acting as the demonstration site for the pupils together with their teachers and communities.

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The Kigaaga Environmental Education Centre (KEEC) is located in Kigaaga village, in Buseruka Sub County, Hoima District near Bugoma Central Forest Reserve. The Centre has two main blocks with four rooms each that serve as office, resource room, classroom, store and accommodation rooms for resident staff. Five (5) solar panels were installed to provide power for light and computer use, courtesy of funds from JGI Austria.  The Centre has a van that transports children to and from the Centre back to their respective schools.

KEEC is located in an area with increasing rates of deforestation thus threatening the survival of chimpanzee populations and other wildlife. While the people in the area are still relatively non-destructive in their ways, they are not aware of the consequences of their actions on the environment.

Project Goals and Objectives:

Goal

To provide an opportunity for teachers, pupils and neighboring community members to visit and learn more about the forest environment, its importance and what people can do to help protect it. Since education is the key to creating interest in and awareness of our environment and of the need to conserve nature, KEEC’s primary objective will be to improve public awareness and understanding of the environment with a view to promoting the conservation and sustainable use of nature and natural resources, leading to a better environment and a better quality of life. The program will compliment other educational initiatives in the area.

Objectives:

•          Increasing the local community awareness on the plight of great apes, with an emphasis on understanding that will lead to empathy and improved stewardship by locals for the great apes and their habitats

•          Teaching children about the natural history of the animals in the forest, threats to the animals and their habitat and action steps they can take to help protect the forest.

•          Helping children visiting the Centre understand the importance the wildlife and what the forest has to offer for their livelihoods and future.

•          Equipping school children and community members with the knowledge and skills of constructing energy saving cooking stoves

•          Evaluating the short and long term effectiveness of the forest experience at changing behavior and attitude toward protected areas and conserving wildlife.

Activities carried out under KEEP include;

I.            Engaging school children in practical environmental conservation activities such as nursery bed preparation, seedling raising and tree planting. Earlier in January this year (2015), assorted tree seeds and nursery inputs were purchased for the establishment of demonstration nursery site at Education Centre.  The seedlings raised are to be planted in schools and communities in Kigaaga area. This activity is ongoing and over 1300 seedlings have been potted so far

II.            Engaging school children and community members in forest walks and nature games for awareness creation. Since the Centre is near Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, children are always taken for a 20 minute forest walk to bring them closer to nature and stimulate their interest and feeling of concern for the forest. The forest is a victim of many small holder and large-scale farm encroachment, especially for sugarcane and tobacco. This threat is exacerbated by a fast growing population and subsequent demand for settlements. Such threats to Bugoma forest make the location ideal for KEEC which will be used to sensitize the community about the need for its conservation.

III.            Carrying out school visits to implement sustainable environmental practices for schools

IV.            Equipping an environmental education resource room with the necessary education materials for pupils, teachers and community to use

V.            Training community members and school children in construction of energy saving cooking stoves

VI.            Working in conjunction with the school teachers to conduct a pre and post evaluation of the children’s knowledge, attitude and consequently behavior toward protected areas and wildlife conservation.

Geo-referencing/Mapping of all the Roots & Shoots schools of project area

Several Ordinary Data Kits (ODKs) were received from JGI-USA at the beginning of this year, and this has enabled us to give each school at least 1 (one) tablet to easy their work of data collection and reporting their environmental activities.  The Tablets are programmed with several kinds of forms which are used to collect data from different sources; among the various forms installed in the ODKs is the Roots and Shoots report form which is purposely designed to record activities carryout in schools.

GPS coordinates are taken from various schools and submitted to GIS Officer at JGI for analysis and development of a map for the project and inclusion of the respective activities on the existing map of other JGI projects respectively.  A demonstration site at Education Centre has been opened and maintained clean ready for setting up of a demonstrative garden.   It is estimated that more than 5000 people both pupils and local community members shall benefit from the demonstration site through practical learning.

Monitoring and Evaluation

·         Evaluation questionnaires (Feedback forms) for teachers and school children are issued to establish how much the participants have gained from the Environmental activities carried out and what changes need to be incorporated into these activities to make them more effective and useful to the people and the environment.

·         Follow-up visits to the schools are being conducted to see if lessons learnt at KEEC have had the desired effect or whether suggestions / instructions issued have been followed.

·         Pre and post-evaluation forms will also be issued to school children to establish their level of knowledge and awareness of environmental issues before and after conducting EE activities at the Centre.

By  2017 we expect;

Increased understanding among school children of the importance of wildlife and the forest to their livelihoods and future.
Improved understanding and level of awareness among the local community members on the plight of great apes
Improved empathy and stewardship by locals for the great apes and their habitats
Enhanced community education Programmes at the forest education centres
Change in community attitudes towards chimpanzee conservation and their forest habitats
Reduced demand for firewood due to use of energy saving cooking stoves, thus reducing pressure on the natural forests

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