It is that time of the year again that the world comes together to celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives. It is a day scheduled annually to increase awareness on cooperatives and to highlight their achievements throughout the year.
The theme for this year is COOPERATIVES FOR CLIMATE ACTION.
As the world commemorates this day, we take a look back at how the County Government of Nandi has integrated cooperatives in their inclusive and sustainable approaches into areas of environmental sustainability.
The County, just like other areas globally, has not been exempted from climatic challenges. And through its department of Agriculture and Cooperative Development, it has been keen to involve cooperatives in their models and leadership to address these challenges.
It has also put in place strategies to create enabling climatic conditions that would reduce barriers to cooperative development.
In the recent past, heavy rainfall has caused floods and landslides that created destructions in parts of the County with most affected areas being Chepkario and Mbogo Valley in Tinderet Ward; Chelogong in Tuiyobei and Kapkitany in Songhor Soba ward.
The County Government in liaison with Agricultural Cooperatives rolled out an ambitious plan to reclaim these affected areas and all areas prone to land and mudslides by introducing and promoting the planting of fruit trees and cash crops such as coffee, avocado and macadamia nuts not only to increase food security but to increase land cover and reduce soil erosion.
Certified coffee seedlings distributed at Songhor-Soba ward
In the same effort, the County Government has partnered with Acre Africa, to insure farmers from potential crop damage caused by unfavorable weather conditions.
It provides weather index insurance products for each yielding crop phase. Acre Africa is a licensed insurance intermediary working with local insurers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to provide farmers with transparent, non-exploitative timely payouts after suffering crop loss.
The government has also advanced in solving climate change effects through enabling strategies that will empower the cooperatives to find solutions.
One is the provision of capital. The government has provided special access to capital to enable cooperatives to expand in areas that mitigate or adapt to climate change. The county government has invested in seed granting programs, over 50,000 certified coffee seedlings have been distributed so far from the project, and it is in the process of rearing quality potato and avocado seedlings to be distributed to local farmers.
It has also facilitated the provision of revolving loan funds and inclusion grants through their partnership with World Bank. This partnership has seen cooperatives and self- interest groups’ drawn from wards across the County benefit from funding. The said groups wrote funding proposals that got approved for the financing.
Coffee seedling nursery at Kabunyeria Farmer Cooperative Society to be distributed to farmers.
Through legislation, the government has created a non- discriminatory regulatory environment that facilitates the creation and development of cooperatives.
It is one of the critical transformational agenda of Governor Stephen Sang government to empower cooperatives to improve livelihoods at grass root levels through access and resource mobilization.
The County Government has also recognized and promoted cooperatives in educational programs, business development programs, and as part of the economy.
It has organized and facilitated Ushirika days to create awareness on cooperatives, partnered with organizations to offer trainings to cooperative members. DigiCow and Digital Green are technology-based organizations with a memorandum of understanding with the county government to provide real-time expert trainings to farmers and farmer groups in Nandi.
It has also facilitated the provision of subsidy programs in crop and dairy sector to cooperatives to manage production costs faced by their members.
Also, the diversity of different sectors in which cooperatives engage means they can work together to address climate change while also advancing sustainable development goals.
Cooperatives could look into a renewable source of energy for their farming activities, for example, the use of natural manure or eco -friendly manure. Hence affects the quality and the healthiness of food produced, which affects the population health.
Agricultural cooperatives could also look into using sustainable management practices to keep ground secure and fertile.
Credit unions to provide investments in natural resource sustainability.
Insurance cooperatives to provide resiliency to their members in the face of extreme weather events
Public transport cooperatives to work to provide sustainable transportation by providing high efficient vehicles to the public and reduce the rate of driving and car ownership. They should look into fuel-efficient cars.
Bodaboda saccos provide low carbon transport
Kapsasur bodaboda sacco
Retail cooperatives provide local goods at affordable prices, minimizing the need for commercial transportation. They work to reduce the environmental impacts of the production of the products at source, reduce waste, generate renewable energy; reduce the impact of their operations, and educate consumer-members and staff.
Cooperatives can also advance their efforts to address climate change by building on the cooperative principles. They should encourage members to set policies on climate change to reduce risk to the business. Identify and report on the threat that climate change poses to cooperative business, use cooperatives as a mechanism to enable members to address climate change.
Establish a capital mechanism that supports strategies to address climate change without compromising cooperative values. Provide training and education on climate change impacts, risks, and plans to reduce emissions. Identify ways in which cooperatives can support members to reduce their impact on climate change. Work with organizations and other businesses to minimize climate risk operations.
Provide decision-makers with information on the effect of climate change on cooperative business and steps to recover. Identify opportunities to build or enhance the resilience of the community to climate change impacts.
Identify and support populations that are particularly vulnerable to the harsh effects of climate change.
The characteristics of cooperatives puts them in a unique position to combat climate change challenges.