A project aimed at fighting forest fires, illegal logging, and water encroachment in Kenya not only puts mobile phones to good use but also provides jobs to local jobless citizens.
“The app has made work easier for us,” says Mohamed Mwaramuno, one of the rangers hired to patrol forests and replant trees in coastal Kenya’s Shim Hills, a 74,000-acre national reserve. “Instead of patrolling the dangerous terrain we just receive these feeds and then we can directly go to the sites that have been disturbed.”
The app, developed by the Kenya Forest Service and the University of Leicester in the UK, uses both satellite feeds and real-time global mapping to track deforestation and illegal activities. The project also serves as a means to tackle unemployment around the country that doubled and reached 10% since the pandemic started: some 250 locals have been hired to patrol forests and plant seeds. “This partnership has helped reduce idleness while also engaging the society in greening Kenya,” says Nasiri Maulidi, chairman of a local forest restoration group in Kwale County. Right now, 7% of Kenya is covered by forests, and the country wishes to reach 10% by 2022.