Welcome to EMAUA
Stemming from a food self-sufficiency project in 2015, EMAUA aims to develop replicable products and techniques based on the use of free local resources that significantly improve people’s lives. And we reforest through indigenous tree planting in inhabited areas to mitigate the impact of climate change for those who had least contributed to it: rural communities of the global south.
Western Kenya – with a tropical humid climate and overall low socio-economic rural communities – has proved to bear tremendous potential for climate action through reforestation with the rural communities as a major actor. In this context, our tree planting activities coupled with teachings on more efficient use of local resources – such as regenerative agriculture – have the potential to address both climate issues and living standard disparities.
To our contributors, we aim to be a vector of hope towards a fairer and more sustainable world, whereby striving to display a most transparent overview of the impact of their contribution on the ground. However, despite the possibility of off-setting carbon emissions, we are committed to advocating for a more responsible consumption from the side of the global north without which our world stands no chance of remaining under the 1.5°C threshold set by the Paris agreement.
We aim to establish a scalable model for indigenous and bio-diverse reforestation in inhabited areas of the tropics, which concurrently enhances the living standards of local communities.
We plant hundreds of thousands of trees in biodiverse ecosystems in the tropics. But there, most rural communities remain poor despite local resources that could greatly improve their lives. So with the funds raised through tree planting, we also work on improving their self-reliance. Here are the four activities we perform to do so:
Reforestation is not just a buzz. And tree planting doesn’t just mean any tree. Indigenous trees in biodiverse ecosystems are depended on by the local fauna and flora – they’ve co-evolved for millions of years – and therefore, they should be given the top priority. Moreover, tree planting in the tropics stores up to 6x more CO2 than in temperate areas, and it presents two massive benefits globally: it helps curb climate change as well as the biodiversity collapse. At the local level, trees improve soil fertility, increase soil water retention, provide medicine, and increase biodiversity, fuel source, and food source. How we work: we collect a yearly increasing number of species in a radius of 120 km, that we cultivate in our tree nursery until maturation, then we freely distribute them to farmers. To be eligible, farmers receive training on good practices, after which we visit them to perform an in-depth assessment of their ability to provide conducive conditions, and after plantation, we conduct a close follow-up to ensure the best growth rates. > LEARN MORE
Children are tomorrow’s adults, and they should understand issues like climate change and the essential role of biodiversity in humans’ existence to make appropriate decisions in the future. We visit primary and secondary level institutions to sensitize them on these matters alongside tree planting and conservation. At a later stage, we revisit them to plant trees with them in the school compound, leaving them with a long-term reminder of our teachings. School teachers, as well as pupils, welcome us with eagerness, which creates a conducive environment for learning. And because of the challenge faced by their canteens regarding the need for firewood, we also offer to freely build for them rocket stoves that reduce their firewood consumption by two-thirds compared to the traditional 3-stone stove. > LEARN MORE
Tree planting is good. But combining it with preventing deforestation is even better. However, nearly half of the global population cooks on open fires and use firewood daily. Therefore, we freely build innovative rocket stoves for individuals and institutions using locally available materials: termite mud, sawdust, and local blocks. These stoves use two-thirds less firewood than the traditional 3-stone stoves and produce minimal smoke, which in turn reduces smoke-related diseases. We also train willing beneficiaries to replicate a second one for him/herself as well as to help his/her community. Due to the availability of materials, our stoves are cheap to make, and their building is particularly easy to learn. > LEARN MORE
When food is little, the well-being of families declines, and even children are hit hard in their academic performance at school. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty, where poor families become poorer. In Busia County, the main drives for hunger are climate change, depleting soil fertility, and inadequate agricultural knowledge, which results in low yields. Using locally available resources presents a high potential in addressing food shortages in rural communities as well as increasing their self-reliance. Through a combination of indigenous and scientific knowledge, farmers are taught about regenerative agriculture. Our techniques aim to improve soil structure, increase crop yields, curb hunger and generate income. > LEARN MORE
EMAUA Organization is founded by Julien Kauer in 2015 in Teso District, Malaba Kenya, as an Organic Food Self-sufficiency Program. Its aim is to feed the 300-individuals of Isegeretoto school population over 9-acre piece of land.
EMAUA is born out of the founder’s passion and the potential he saw in the more efficient use of local resources to improve people’s lives. Following a first visit in 2012 – to assess the potential of Tithonia diversifolia (Emaua in Ateso language), a wild plant for its fertilizing properties – he realized that better organic farming knowledge could dramatically improve the living standards of rural communities.
From day one, Mr. Kauer assimilates into the community, lives in a traditional house and strives to learn Swahili language.
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Inception of the schools' sensitization campaign
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Establishment of the tree nursery
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Start of the improved stoves building campaign
After 3 years of trials, the organization finally manages to produce a viable prototype of an improved stove named “rocket stove”, made from local resources only. The stove reduces by two-thirds the use of firewood for households and is attracting a lot of attention from privates and institutions.
The tree nursery manages to produce another 15,000 indigenous trees and distribute them freely to beneficiaries. The team starts feeling the need for a new responsible, to better follow up on the tree planting activities from the side of the beneficiaries. The community education program reaches out to 9,000 pupils.
In Switzerland, EMAUA Switzerland hosts the 6th edition of a worldwide event called “The Meal” in Fribourg.
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Creation of EMAUA center
EMAUA is half a decade old and purchases a 4 acre (1.6 ha) piece of land in Sikoma (Busia county). This piece of land is meant to allow for the creation of a center that will aim to teach a more efficient use of local resources for better self-reliance of the communities in organic farming and other fields related to human basic needs. It manages to plant 15’640 trees of 27 species with 103 beneficiaries.
The year 2019 also marks the end of EMAUA’s constitutive project, the Isegeretoto Organic Food Self-sufficiency Project, as the organization relocates to its new field in Sikoma and hands over the project to the school. After the handing over, EMAUA’s staff follows up for a year with the school’s team to ensure the project’s continuity. The organization manages to hire its first field officer, who takes over the duties of teaching numerous institutions, collecting tree orders, and following up on projects after tree plantation. It now counts 9 employees in Kenya and 4 volunteers in Switzerland.
The advice and support by a digital marketing professional allows the organization to upgrade its website and to self-host its first crowdfunding campaign.
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Evolution of the entrepreneurial project
The organisation’s mission is evolving, moving from a purely humanitarian approach to an initiative focused on tree planting, in response to the growing enthusiasm of individuals for this cause. The surplus funds finance activities like community education, the building of improved stoves, and the teaching of organic farming, which are all provided free of charge to beneficiaries in Busia County.
EMAUA achieves the production and distribution of trees of 32 different species and the building of 380 improved stoves in 114 households and institutions. All 30,000 planting tubes are self-produced using bamboo. Unfortunately, due to covid-19, the community education program is put on hold.
The 6-month volunteering stay of an agronomist develops EMAUA’s staff’s understanding of compost production and induces the extensive use of the Cuban organopònicos – raised beds with high contents of compost – on its vegetable production parcels.
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Upscaling the tree planting
Its crowdfunding strategy allows EMAUA to double up the number of trees planted as compared to the previous year, for the 2nd consecutive year. 61,113 trees of 32 species are distributed to 335 beneficiaries. Improvements in terms of substrate composition are made, that improve dramatically the tree seedling growth. Composted waste material from a neighboring sugarcane factory makes up 60% of it.
EMAUA manages to build 402 rocket stoves, that reduce by 66% families’ and institutions’ use of firewood, summing the total to 834 since 2018. Our sensitization department resumes its activities in November–after covid restrictions were lifted concerning school visitation from outsiders–and manages to sensitize pupils of 18 schools about the ecological importance of indigenous trees.
EMAUA counts 13 full time employees in Kenya and creates a media production department, that allows it to improve its visibility towards followers on the social media.
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Improving logistics and introducing incentives
Thanks to the generous commitment of a Geneva-based climbing equipment shop to donate 1% of its 2021 turnover to EMAUA, it has been able to acquire a 6-tonne truck. This new vehicle, which increases transport capacity by a factor of 8, can carry up to 12,000 plants in a single trip. This improvement comes just in time for an ambitious undertaking, with the organisation having exceeded its annual crowdfunding target by 15%, setting itself the goal of producing and distributing 135,000 trees.
The year’s milestones include the planting of 139,393 trees, the construction of 650 improved stoves, the training of 423 beneficiaries to organic farming techniques and the sensitization of youths and adults on the importance of indigenous trees. In addition, EMAUA signs a collaboration agreement with On A Mission, a Swiss organisation, to restore 50 hectares of the Kakamega forest, Kenya’s largest tropical rainforest, by 2023.
As part of its ongoing drive to innovate and optimise, EMAUA is refocusing its improved cookstove activities, transforming them into incentive levers to ensure the highest survival rate for its trees. They are now built on the premises of beneficiaries with above-average survival rates. These incentives, now at the heart of its strategy, not only encourage planting, but also ensure that each tree has the chance to grow, mature and enrich the surrounding ecosystem.
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The year of partnerships
Our customary annual crowdfunding campaign concluded at 89% of its target, successfully securing funds for 220,000 of the 250,000 trees we aimed to support. This marked the beginning of a year characterized by collaboration and partnership:
- EMAUA entered into a significant alliance with Frères De Nos Frères (FDNF), enhancing our stove construction capabilities and advancing our organic farming department. Collaborating with the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) provided us access to invaluable knowledge and seeds for our organic farming initiatives.
- As part of the project to rehabilitate a 50-hectare plot in the centre of the Kakamega forest, Kenya’s largest rainforest, a nursery of 70,000 trees is set up. To achieve this objective, EMAUA forges partnerships with On A Mission, Kakamega CBO and the Kenyan Government (KFS).
- The MOU with Open Forest Protocol (OFP) will enable several tree planting projects to be monitored using innovative tools. OFP, whose motto is Measuring, reporting, verifying and financing forestry projects with digital transparency, will enable EMAUA to increase its transparency, thereby fostering a closer link with its donors.