We hope you are all well and safe and would like to share with you an update on our operations during these difficult times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world and is affecting operations in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest more and more. This is a very difficult time for local communities living around the forest, as they are losing their livelihoods from the tourism sector, as well as the range of services that have stopped to contain the spread of the virus.
Many people are staying at home and compensating their usual sources of income with natural resources from the forest. This situation will only aggravate with time, as more people lose their jobs and income. This pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on natural resources. This is a critical time and our team is finding solutions to every new situation coming to us.
We would like to assure you that we are working closely with our partners, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service to mitigate the increasing impact on forest resources. Our scouts continue to patrol with the KFS and KWS rangers to every corner of the forest and to contain the COVID-19 outside we coordinated response to the pandemic and we have jointly decided, that our scouts, as well as the rangers, will remain in the forest until the pandemic is over. The isolation from their families and social circles is not easy but will protect them, as well as their families and communities. We have ensured a one-month supply of food for our team in the forest as well as basic medication.
Unfortunately, we can only maintain critical activities during this time, which along with law enforcement patrolling includes road clearing to allow the movement of teams in the forest. Road clearing is done in collaboration with the communities and provide much-needed income to families living around the forest. Unfortunately, we have postponed our environmental education programme and other activities with communities until further notice.
We also made the decision to support government efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and have supported Gede Health Centre with water containers and soap These are being used at the health centre as well as at some critical public places in Gede. We are looking into extending this support to the main health centres around the forest and we are investigating options to support the most vulnerable families if the pandemic hits the coast region uncontrollably. As a team, we are determined to keep supporting the people and the forest that we share this land with.
We will continue to assess the situation and adapt to new circumstances and government directives.
We would like to thank you all for your support over the years that is enabling us to continue working during these difficult times.
With best regards
Friends of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest team