The shoreline plant Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus L.) is an important and ancient socio-economic resource in regions throughout East Africa. In addition to its economic value, papyrus provides a variety of ecological services to local communities. Acting as natural filters, papyrus swamps can trap sediment and nutrients, decreasing turbidity and slowing pollutants into lakes. Papyrus swamps also provide natural habitat and breeding grounds for many fish and bird species.
In Kenya, the creation of papyrus-based consumer goods has proven to be economically successful. However, a sustainable supply of this ecologically important plant has been challenging. GHS-A students along with local fisherman, the Fisheries Department, and the Beach Management Unit developed a project idea to begin the conscious and sustainable cultivation, management and harvesting of papyrus stock within Lake Naivasha.
The community-based management program will begin with a pilot project with the aim of establishing a seedbed with 1000 papyrus rhizomes. To sustain the seedbed, the students’ idea is to offer incentives, such as school and market vouchers, for the number of rhizomes grown to re-planting age and subsequently replanted. Additionally, they came up with an idea of a depot (similar to metal and plastic recycling depots) for mature papyrus (accepted on the basis on height) where local community members can exchange split and dried stalks of matured papyrus for vouchers. Bundles of papyrus could then be re-sold to local artisans, weavers, and organizations in order to provide the funding to sustain the project and expand in the future.
The project idea is intended as an economic stimulus for local community and the ensured protection of this internationally recognized wetland for future generations.
Group 4 – Papyrus. Diato Akoth (MMASc in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidate), Rael Odhiambo (MSc Candidate Masinde Muliro), Cynthia Okundi (BSc Commerce KCA University), Dunstan Maraka (BSc Egerton), Erika Freeman (Collaborative Program in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidate)