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Caption: Valentine Mkanyika, Manager, Wushumbu Conservancy. Photo | Joel Muind
“You can do it. You can achieve anything anyone else has achieved. You have to push and be professional. ” Valentine Mkanyika, Manager, Wushumbu Conservancy.
Before I started working at Wushumbu Conservancy, I studied public health and worked at a hospital in Nairobi. Public health was not for me. I decided to shift to accounting. I started helping out businesses in managing their accounts. With the income, I would also sell t-shirts online. I was an online merchant through social media marketing.
It was during this time that I saw a job advert for an accounting job at Wushumbu Conservancy. I was interested because I am from Wushumbu. I applied for the accounting job with my Certified Public Accounting Section 4 (CPA 4) qualification and in 2021 I relocated from Nairobi to Wushumbu.
I brought my two children along with me to Taita Taveta County. I gave it my all.
Giving up is not in my vocabulary. I worked harder. The first few weeks of coming to Taita were hard. I had to work in the conservancy every other week. There are no public transport vehicles to Wushumbu. We rely on motorbikes. At first, it was hard. I told myself, I have to achieve my dreams. I was the finance officer for four months. After eight months, the Board appointed me to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Secretary to the Board.
When I joined, there were only two female scouts at Wushumbu but now we have made some progress, we have four.
My advice to women is that ‘you can do it. You can achieve anything anyone else has achieved. Just be professional, but you have to push’
What inspires me is the potential that Wushumbu Conservancy has. Success for Wushumbu is interacting with the community peacefully. We will work together and benefit from living wildlife. I have been meeting with community leaders to talk about how communities living adjacent to the conservancy can benefit from living wildlife.
About Wushumbu Conservancy
Wushumbu started off as a ranch in 1974. It occupies 36,000 acres and is composed of 1,500 members who live in the settlement area in Wundanyi. Its main economic activity was cattle rearing. It is also home to wildlife, with elephants, buffaloes, lesser kudus, among others.
In 2018, the members decided to elevate it into a community wildlife conservancy and commenced the process for registration.
Carbon credits is one of the conservancy’s major income streams. With support from WWF-Kenya, Wushumbu has also ventured into poultry farming, beekeeping and introduced sheep and goats in the conservancy. WWF-Kenya also supported the conservancy with a motorbike, uniform for community scouts, and provided solar equipment for the solarisation of the conservancy’s borehole. The conservancy management and board also received support to undertake leadership training.
Because of the prolonged drought, water is scarce. In 2022, the conservancy lost 137 heads of cattle to drought, leaving it with only 87. The months of August, October and November were the worst.