Tukero Ole Kina
Kitsao K Tinga
Said Juma Abio
Agneta de Mare
Julius R Akbitter
The chairman Tukero Ole Kina welcomed everyone to the third annual general meeting of the reformed Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and thanked KWS for hosting the even
1. Apologies for absence
KFS EC Wamola
2.Secretary Deborah Goodhart read the notice convening the meeting
On this day Saturday 29 September 2018 as secretary of the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest I call to order the third annual general meeting of the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest .
3. Minutes of the special general meeting held on 24 June 2017
These were approved as a correct record of the meeting.
Proposed by Ann Robertson Seconded by Justin Kitsao
4. Treasurer’s report and accounts for 2017
Treasurer Lissa Ruben reported that Friend of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest has approximately 260 Friends up from 220 in 2016 we hope that the friends will renew.
The work of Friends is going from strength to strength, but of course we have to find the funds for continuing this work.
FoASF raised $110,000 dollars from the Minara Foundation and Oak Foundation. This was for one year and so should have taken us through to May 2018. However with careful thought and as the money was non specific we have enough money until the end of 2018 primarily for our scouts and work with KFS and KWS.
We are hopeful that Minara and possibly Oak will help us out again and we are hopeful that a couple of NGO’s will come to the table too, plus philanthropists locally and abroad.
For more specific funding Alia Moller has been working hard on proposals to recommended people overseas to get our dung count funded in order to learn how many elephant are in the forest and how many the forest can sustain.
Education is doing well – thank you Deborah Goodhart for working hard on these proposals. African Fund for Endangered Wildlife has been absolutely fantastic. We are so excited to be the recipients of the Kilifi Gold Triathlon and a whopping 500,000/- will be spent on bringing 2000 kids or so to the education centre and the forest.
Our scout programme of course relies very heavily on the major part of our budget – thank you to KFS and KWS for partnering and making our habitat protection successful. Thank you for all their hard work – Julius and Joseph the two team leaders and the rest of the guys
Total donations from January 2018 – July 2018 are 710,235.00 for specific causes
Current balances – September 2018:
KCB Kenya shilling account – KES 120,000
KCB US dollar account – USD 14,947
MPESA balance KES 70,000
Barclays Kenya shilling account KES 930,920
Approximate budget – monthly total
Kenya shillings KES 267,000
US dollars USD 2,670
A huge thank you goes to all the individuals who have helped with donations, and to all of you who have given us suggestions on how to raise money. More ideas are always welcome but if you can put your ideas in to action we’d love that even more!
A special mention should go to Andy Thomas of Captain Andy’s who quietly supports the water for the elephants whether settling the KWS monthly water bill or running the borehole pump to the swamp – and much more. And to Sammy Safari who makes sure this is all in order – and of course who fills as many jerry cans as the community needs too.
The treasurers report and the accounts for 2017 were:
Proposed by: David Hopkins Seconded by: Joan Beeston
5. Chairman’s report
Only last weekend at the Kilifi Gold Triathlon, your conservation efforts were recognised when we became the beneficiary of the fundraising effort. We promised to use the funds to run an education programme of bringing children to visit the forest and learn. You will have just seen the KWS education centre next door, refurbished with money donated to us from AFEW for that purpose.
In 1999, a few of you came together to form a community-based organization (CBO) you named Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (FoASF) with the broad objective of protecting the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, its flora and fauna from the massive degradation wrought upon it secondary to the neglect by the statutory organs that have been established under the Forest Act 2005.
You will be aware that the management of the forest is a shared responsibility between the Central Government, the Country Government, the CFAs, ASFADA and lately other non-governmental organisations operating within the forest.
The CBO that was registered on 7 December 1999 has achieved a lot, growing its membership from the first 22 who came together held the first annual general meeting on 22/8/2000 and grew its membership to its present level at 260 Friends and growing.
That is how come I stand before you today as your chairman. I am still learning and as you may have noted from our website Facebook page, we have had a calendar of activities.
At a special general meeting in June 2017 we resolved to reorganise ourselves by forming a company limited by guarantee. For those who were not present at that meeting, and for the purposes of further reminding those who were, I explained the benefits of converting our association from a CBO that is registered under the Ministry of Social Services into a serious outfit registered under the companies act.
My friends this brings me to the structure of our association. It is a CBO registered under the Ministry of Social Services. Its existence is precarious as it has to be renewed annually. Conservation and management of natural resources is bound to bring us in competition and conflict with forces that may wish us harm and damage the future of our association. We cannot move into the future as presently constituted. As a CBO without perpetual succession, we cannot legally own property and our legal structure can be an impediment to future growth and fundraising efforts. Minara for instance who have donated US$ 60,000 and have promised more, only agreed to donate on the understanding that we are transformed ourselves into a more robust and stable entity. That is why I recommended to you that we transform ourselves into a Limited Liability Company, limited by guarantee. As a company limited by guarantee, we are permitted to omit the term Limited from our name and yet receive all the benefits of a limited liability company. This will ensure that the liability of our members is limited, it is a proper charitable legal entity that can own its own property and your members who agree to be involved in the management of its affairs do not risk a lot of personal liability in the event of insolvency arising from the withdrawal of funding for instance. With this vehicle, we hope to create a Forest Management Plan or a Public Private Partnership Management Plan (PPP) with the current stake holders or enter into agency agreements with the existing CFAs as permitted by our current legal framework and manage the forest.
The benefits of registration as company limited by guarantee include and are not limited to the following:-
- Separate legal person with limited liability. No personal responsibility for debts.
- Tax advantages. We are a charity and save for the usual direct taxes, we are exempt from income and corporation tax.
- Perpetual succession. Previously, we had to apply for registration annually. Strictly speaking, a CBO cannot own property in its own right because of the legal implication of its life having to be renewed on an annual basis. This also means that there are very few organizations that would consider to provide serious funding. The Minara Foundation for instance who provided us with major funding in the past, were clear that in order for them to continue funding us, we had to change our legal status.
- Raising Capital.
- Improved governance. This is a work in progress for us. It is proposed to have a several levels of power, the Board of Directors mainly selected by an elected committee. The Board will mainly chart the policies to be implemented by a committee that will work with a secretariat running the day today affairs of our association. Presently, the committee you elected runs the affairs of our association through a purely voluntary participation. Our secretariat is comprised of one employee, Alia Moller. She does most of the running around for us. Her services are a running donation given to us by Captain Andy. We thank him for his continued support.
- We would like to see greater participation by more members in the affairs of our association. We have listed a few sub-committees that we invite our members to join. These subcommittees form an integral part of our governance structure and at the same time involve our members in the running of our association. I encourage you to be part of this by signing in. this is a work in progress and the terms of reference and even the names of the committees may change as we go along.
- Brand visibility. As we strengthen our association, we become more visible. The fear of being struck out is gone. We can stand up and shout and if need be, challenge the powers the authorities on their management of the forest or any other areas where we feel our voice is needed. We are not a CFA and are therefore not confined to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Indeed, much of our activism earlier this year was felt when we challenged the government to take action, in the Dakacha Woodland. We mounted a sustained high-level social media campaign that saw the Ministry dispatch the acting conservator of forests Monica Kalenda on a fact-finding mission that resulted in the firing of personnel. The threat persists, and we have to continue our vigilance if we are to secure this forest for our future generations.
The central theme of our undertaking must remain identifying the challenges faced by the forest and coming up with clear cut solutions. We have therefore come up with various proposals that we shall be putting forward to you today that will enhance governance of our association, increase transparency in our operations and deepen membership participation in the running and management of our association. In this connection, we shall form sub committees and encourage you to join in the areas where you think you are able to contribute. The current proposal is to form a Membership sub-committee, Finance and fundraising sub-committee, communications (including editorial, publicity etc) sub-committee, Merchandise sub-committee, Education sub-committee, Community liaison sub-committee and such other sub-committees as shall be necessary. We shall take advice from people more knowledgeable than us in setting the terms of reference for each of those subcommittees.
With increased participation of the members in these sub-committees, I hope to expand the reach and feel of our group and to also benefit from the knowledge of our membership at large. We shall be communicating to you more on this as we go along.
I encourage you to visit our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram as well as our website and see for yourself what we are doing. Our secretary is always posting updates and as you will note, we have great reviews. You will also receive newsletters that will further enlighten you on our planned activities.
Friends, successive committees have worked very hard to raise awareness and lift our association from a small CBO whose financial strength was about Ksh. 500,000, to an association that presently is managing over Ksh.10,000,000, and growing. It is appropriate at this juncture that I should thank our donors namely, Minara Foundation, AFEW, Andy Thomas, and many others for their kind donations.
Since under the existing structure of the Arabuko- Sokoke Forest we are not and do not qualify to be a Community Forest Association (CFA) or an adjacent forest dwellers association as for instance Arabuko-Sokoke Adjacent Forest Association (ASFADA ), it is necessary that we position ourselves, as we have done, as a force working within the forest and its environs. We have managed to edge ourselves into the ASFMT where we are having a direct voice, albeit in a small way. But let us face it. Money talks. We have managed to positively use our resources to place boots on the ground. This is no mean fit.
You will recall that, with the assistance of Andy Thomas, who graciously donated a pick up and provided seven motorcycles that we availed to KWS and with other ring -enced donations, we are financing the day to day operations of the vehicle and the motor cycles, we are ensuring proper surveillance of the forest in a bid to reduce the serious degradation presently underway. We secured a SMART communication system the use of which is to maintain accurate records of the damage we see. Our scouts who broken into two teams collect accurate data of human activity in the forest. This data is then collated on a monthly basis and a report is produced. You are able to see these reports in our website. Deborah Goodhart tweets these reports so you can find them on our twitter handle.
We continue our engagement with the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service both partners in the forest so that we can also empower them by providing additional boots on the ground to better secure the forest. Our object is to have four teams. We presently have two. Having four teams means doubling our expenditure. We have our tractor that has been a great help in transport.
The additional boots carefully selected from families that live around the forest have increased our visibility and relevance in the management of this resource. By having local people paid by us on the ground, we continue to change the dynamics that have so far enable the massive degradation of the forest to continue. The little stipend given to the scouts goes as a direct benefit to the individual scout and his family and their interest in the survival of the forest is enhances. It is in securing the neighbourhood of the forest and ensuring that those who dwell there are on our side, that the success of our objective lies. Without the local community on our side, we cannot win.
In order to win their trust and have a say in the future of the forest, we have had to come up with various measures that should we realise them, will ensure that our presence in the forest and our will, will be imposed, to the betterment of the forest and those who live around it. We have therefore embarked on a recruitment drive for new members, increased awareness of our association and our work, gone into schools to encourage the creation of environmental clubs and with the assistance of the local education board, we are looking at the school curriculum so that we can built into it an element of education on the environment.
Some of these ideas are at their infancy but once realised, I am confident that we shall succeed in our efforts here and perhaps influence policies in other regions.
We have to recruit the local community and imbue in them the sense of responsibility necessary for the future of our forest, our environment and our general wellbeing.
We plan to work with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the Ministry of Agriculture and KWS and others to develop a Shamba system that increase forests cover at the same time reward those who will grow trees by receipt of cash and other benefits. As promised last year, we sought funds and are now working with Sammy Safari on a two acres demonstration farm. I encourage our members to go see what Sammy is doing. We continue to seek ways to develop and benefit from the existing Carbon Credit scheme for those living around the forest and beyond. There is no surer way of securing the future of this forest than for the local population to have a direct benefit from its existence.
I am not sure what the best approach would be. Reforestation by planting or by permitting nature to regenerate? On a walk with David Ngala, we observed that in those areas where there was massive deforestation, what has colonised the area are creepers. We should seriously consider seeking funding for nurseries. Nurseries provide direct employment and a sense of ownership of the plants. We should work with youth groups, women groups and schools to replant some of the sections of the forest that have been devastated by poaching and indiscriminate felling of trees. We must continue fundraising for all these efforts both locally and abroad.
Friends, the work that we are doing and the role that we are playing in the forest has brought us recognition and though we do not have a defined role in the management of the forest, I dare say that with us there, the future looks great.
Figure this, without boots on the ground and without the necessary transport, the security of the forest will be greatly compromised.
We therefore must continue fundraising and position ourselves to take advantage of our clout to impose our will and determine the direction conservation and the use of the forest for the benefit of our future generations.
Friends, your outgoing committee made up of incredible people all dedicated to the task of realising the object of our association. It was a privilege to work with such a dedicated team and I thank each one of them for their contribution. You did a great job for the future of this country.
As your chairman, I assure you that the committee that I chair is very dedicated and ready to work. The future of this organisation is bright. To the outgoing committee members Crispin Sharp and Jonathan Baya, I thank you for your time, energy and commitment to our cause. To the incoming members, I wish you all the best in your deliberations.
6. Election and reelection of office bearers for the committee for 2019
(a) Chairman – Ole Kina
(b) Vice Chairman – Ray Muremi
(c) Secretary – Deborah Goodhart
(d) Treasurer – Lissa Ruben
(e) Committee members – Sammy Safari, Lynn Njuguna, Andrew McNaughton – Election of guide Johnson Kafulo.
Lissa Ruben said she would continue as treasurer but asked that people put themselves forward as she found the role challenging and did not enjoy it.
Those present unanimously voted the committee in for the year.
7. Vote of thanks
Friend of the Arabuko-Sokoke Ann Robertson thanked the chairman and the committee for their great work and achievements.
Tukero Ole Kina thanked everyone for attending and said that the Friends of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest would not stop at safeguarding the forest. He introduced Dr Dino Martins well-known Kenyan entomologist and evolutionary biologist who gave a great talk – The secret lives of Vegetable Dinosaurs and other oddities from Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.