Indigenous Pollinators Network

Pollinators (bees, beetles, birds, bats, flies, wasps’ butterflies etc.) play a vital role for peoples’ wellbeing, food security and livelihood. 30% of the food production and humanity’s survival depend on pollination worldwide. Unfortunately this key fact is not widely acknowledged, reducing the efforts of the public and policy makers to conserve this essential resource and ecosystem service.

Aiming to reverse this lack of awareness, the Rome based Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty together with Kivulini Trust, Kenya, hosted in Nairobi on 25-26 September 2013, a two days workshop on the establishment of an Indigenous Pollinators Network. Attended by local practitioners and indigenous knowledge holders, the workshop had 33 participants representing 12 indigenous communities of Kenya and several organizations such as Slow Food International, World Wildlife Foundation, the National Museums of Kenya, FAO, the Ogiek People Development Project, Yaaku Peoples Association, Marsabit Senior Citizen Development, Kinisa Cultural Group and Guyasa Community Based Organization. The Workshop was funded by GEF and FAO supported Global Pollination Programme.

  Dr. Mary Gikungu of the National Museums of Kenya facilitated the Workshop. She highlighted that only a few studies have so far been conducted on bee diversity in East Africa and therefore the richness of bee diversity in the Region has not been widely documented. She gave an example that in a study in 2002 of the Kakamega forest, over 200 bees were found. She said that there is a need for more surveys in both natural and established habitats especially in areas such as the Eastern and North Eastern Regions.

Participants shared information on local practices supporting pollination services and recognized the importance of traditional knowledge on pollination services. They also heard a presentation from FAO about the importance of the knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples and the need that indigenous knowledge holders and scientists to work as equal and mutually respectful partners. They stated that deforestation, the loss of habitat caused by road construction and other development projects undertaken without due consideration of the ecosystem infrastructure, the spread of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, plant diseases and environmental pollution are major threats to pollinators.

The participants from the 12 indigenous communities with the support of the participants from the different organizations concluded that they would return to their communities with the determination to create more awareness within their own communities and counties about the critical role of pollinators to their well being and survival. They requested for support for enhancing their capacity through training, exchange visits and the repeat of such workshops. They also decided to map their own traditional indigenous knowledge and find out the gaps. They expressed their eagerness to work closely with regional and international initiatives such as the African Pollination Initiative and the Global Pollination Project.