Our Partner – Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre (NECC)
NECC, the vision of Josphat Macharia, the Centre’s founder and director, keys on the principles of education, poverty reduction and self-help. Josphat’s goal is to teach communities environmentally sound practices for preserving their land and resources, supporting and feeding themselves, and reversing the adverse impact of rural Kenya’s environmentally destructive trends.
Kenya is a beautiful country of unparalleled landscapes, boasting some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa along with a rich tribal heritage. If you have visited, you know this well. The side of Kenya that tourists seldom see, though, is a country ravaged by the adverse effects of deforestation, natural resource destruction/depletion, climate change, overpopulation and the daily tragedy of HIV/AIDS.
Kenya’s modern capital of Nairobi, one of Africa’s largest and most compelling cities, is no longer a frontier town. This city of boundless energy is still considered the safari capital of Africa. Like Kenya as a whole, this is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin create a unique Kenyan character.
The communities of rural Kenya however, lag far behind. The focus of Earth Wind Fire and Water centers on the communities northwest of Nairobi that are served by Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre.
Bill and Vivian Gast engaged in the formation of NECC following a 2004 visit to their niece Gabriella Wagner, then a Peace Corps volunteer in Naivasha, Kenya. Intrigued by the vision and energy of Josphat Macharia, her counterpart and mentor, they originally underwrote the construction of the social hall. They have since been instrumental, partnering with many generous donors, in completing critical infrastructure projects. They also encourage support of the Youth Training Programme and Water Freindly Farmers, a programme to retrain adult famers.
NECC was officially opened August 2005 in a ceremony in its compound attended by villagers, local dignitaries, landowners and environmentalists from the region. The vision of Josphat Macharia, the Centre’s founder and director, keys on the principles of education, poverty reduction and self-help. Josphat’s goal is to teach families and communities environmentally sound practices for preserving their land and resources, supporting and feeding themselves, and keeping their children in school. A zero waste strategy follows best practices in sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, animal husbandry, water harvesting and conservation, bio-gas production and collection, and recycling of all organic material. Affordable activities, local innovations and the ideal to “think globally – act locally” are promoted. Interaction and cooperation between otherwise unfriendly tribes is encouraged.
Of Kenya’s 43 tribes, 18 have settled in the Ndabibi area – not always living in harmony. The majority of the population is subsistence farmers who generally practice antiquated farming methods, and pastoral tribes that roam their territory in search of water and fresh food for their herds. Josphat strives for tribal, demographic, and gender equality in all his endeavors with a universal and apolitical approach.
Today, the Centre is successful beyond expectation. It is financially sound and self-sustaining on the strength of revenue generated with programme fees and the sale of goods. As NECC continues to grow, Josphat has expanded his vision and educational mission to sister communities both neighboring and far away.
Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre is located in the Nakuru district of Kenya northwest of Lake Naivasha, a semi-arid portion of the Great Rift Valley just south of the equator. Reaching Ndabibi from Nairobi by car takes 3-4 hours – an arduous journey of about 200 km (approx. 124 miles) on moonscape dirt roads. There are two rainy seasons, April/May and October/November. The area was once surrounded by a thriving forest that has been decimated over recent decades due to clearing for agriculture coupled with human demand for firewood and charcoal.
Following elementary school in Ndabibi village Josphat went to high school 60 kilometers from home. He then attended teachers training college to qualify as a primary school teacher, only to have the government post him at a school far from Ndabibi. On each return home, Josphat observed that the same antiquated, harmful agricultural activities were increasingly causing environmental degradation.
Nursing his dream of starting an environmental centre in Ndabibi, Josphat requested that the government transfer him home. Armed with ideas and input from diverse groups, he designed a curriculum of 40 lessons he considered ideal to positively impact rural Kenyan communities such as his.
Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre officially opened in August 2005 with Josphat, its visionary leader, also wearing the hats of teacher, employer and community organizer. Elleven years later its success has exceeded his projections.
Tabitha Wanjiku Njoroge
Operations Assistant, Controller, Catering Manager
Tabitha, Josphat’s wife, works closely with him in a more “behind the scenes” capacity. She embraces his dream, one she has helped him to realize from the beginning. In her role as controller she is especially vigilant about every shilling. In addition to serving as catering manager, Tabitha oversees the compound and attends to client welfare just as she does to that of the three Macharia children, Antony, Joseph and Sarah.
Growth and constant activity in the Centre have created employment opportunities for Ndabibi villagers. The Centre currently employs:
- a driver
- two groundskeepers
- two cooks
- an animal caretaker
Vivian Gast, Project Coordinator
Gabriella Wagner, Project Liaison
To Learn more about Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre and its visionary director Josphat Macharia go to http://ndabibienvironment.wix.com/agriculturekenya
As of March 22, 2007 Ndabibi Environmental Conservation Centre is registered under section 10 of the Non-Governmental Organizations Co-ordination Act in the Republic of Kenya.