Combatting the effects of climate change with Global Angels

Isabel Evans in Tsavo

Since 2017 the Robert Walters Group has partnered with the Global Angels Foundation to support the Itinyi Valley community in Tsavo, Kenya, working with the local community to build sustainable farming, businesses and infrastructure.

Each year Robert Walters Group employee volunteers travel to Tsavo to work on key projects. Matt Mitchell is a Senior Consultant in our Wellington office, New Zealand, who travelled 8,000 miles to Kenya and saw first-hand how the Robert Walters Group, Global Angels and the community are working together to build a sustainable future for the region.

“I’ve always been interested in volunteering and value the support that our business provides to communities in need,” said Matt. “I’ve always wanted to visit Kenya too.”

The stark reality of climate change

Our volunteers this year saw the significant impact of climate change on the region. The valley has been severely affected by a long drought, with already scarce water sources depleted, meaning that locals in some areas travel many miles to find water, only to have to draw water from contaminated water holes shared with livestock.

“It was confronting to see the direct impact of climate change on the area, which is certainly not alone across the world – not only to the people but also to the wildlife,” said Matt. “They are largely at the mercy of the developed world when it comes to controlling climate change. I have always been concerned by climate change but working and meeting the people who are experiencing the most drastic effects of it has motivated me to reduce my own impact on the environment.”

Bringing clean water to Tsavo

During the pandemic, when we were unable to send volunteers due to Covid travel restrictions, we launched the Robert Walters Group Walks to Kenya fundraiser, where our employees from around the world collectively walked, ran, swam, rowed or skipped 6,341 miles (the distance from our head office in London to Tsavo, Kenya), to raise vital funds for the Global Angels Clean Water Project.

“For me, a standout was seeing what the Robert Walters Group Walks to Kenya fundraiser has been able to provide the community. The funds raised by our annual fundraiser went towards waterproof lining and covering for their water collection ponds[EB1]  which has allowed the community to store water through the drought in the past 24 months. This has had a massive positive impact on the project, allowing Global Angels to continue developing sustainable farming practices which provide the community with produce that is grown locally and sustainably.”

Building a sustainable future

Our volunteers work hard, but the work is hugely rewarding. “We worked alongside the farm workers to clear drains ahead of the rain, built planter boxes for spinach and other vegetables, dug holes and planted fruit trees in the Global Angels farm orchard, and built a ‘live’ fence to keep baboons out of their orchard,” Matt continued. “A ‘live’ fence in Kenya has a different meaning to that in New Zealand – here it means the fence is electrified, but in Kenya it means planting live trees to use as posts so that the fence doesn’t get destroyed by termites.”

“We also spent time with families in the community, carried water from the farm water collection tanks to families in the area and handed out the donations of clothes and shoes that we had taken from our own offices. We heard their stories, including about how climate change has impacted them.”

Matt saw clearly how the focus on building sustainable practices and infrastructure is working.

“I was so impressed by how well developed the project farm is, it was evident there has been a huge amount of ingenuity and creativeness to come up with farming practices to suit the climate.”

“The model that Global Angels is building of setting up a sustainable community that isn’t reliant on external inputs long-term is awesome. I also hope that the plan to use the Tsavo project as a blueprint for other communities around the world to follow is successful. I was really impressed by the way they have been able to adapt to the changes that climate change is bringing and find ways to remain productive even during a long drought.”  

“It was truly an awesome experience, seeing the impact our organisation’s support has had on their community, getting to know the locals, meeting some of my colleagues from around the world and of course having the opportunity to see Kenya and everything it has to offer, including the people, scenery and wildlife.”

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