Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE)
The Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) is a national indigenous non-governmental organization established in 2005 and formally registered in 2006. With its secretariat based in Thika, Kenya, ICE was founded out of a visible need to promote the inherent and natural role of culture in environmental and resource management in Kenya.
The founders of ICE have been involved in environmental work for ten years and ICE represents a consolidation of their experiences and passion of promoting traditional knowledge in environmental rehabilitation, conservation, and resource management.
A distinctive strategy for ICE is the recognition and promotion of traditional governance structures as vital elements in resource and environmental governance initiatives.
Watch an inspiring short film about ICE's work with a rural community in central Kenya: The Kamburu Story
Read an interview with ICE Director Gathuru Mburu in the Ecologist Magazine.
View photos of a re-visit to the community of Kamburu one year after the film was made by clicking here.
ICE's Purpose and objectives
• To strengthen local communities by recreating culturally appropriate spaces for learning and sharing to assist communities in reclaiming their self confidence
• To empower women to participate in shaping destiny of their communities.
• To inspire and nurture momentum for ecological awareness among communities in Kenya, and enhance their capacities to reclaim, own and protect local bio-heritage
• To develop and expand a School of Cultural Ecology as an alternative learning opportunity that recognizes, respects and enables transfer of traditional knowledge through interaction between youth and elders.
• To develop and strengthen inter-cultural understanding and respect through culture-to-culture dialogues and exchanges
• To support community-based agro-ecological practices for recuperation of traditional seeds and enhancement of food security through sustainable farming practices buttressed on a mix of indigenous and eco-friendly conventional knowledge.
• To identify, restore and protect critical biodiversity areas
• To address policy gaps and inadequacies that infringe on freedom and rights of communities and to allow women to fully benefit from and participate in management of local bio-heritage.
ICE works in five projects areas in Kenya; Yatta, Kivaa, Tharaka, Meru and Kamburu.
Current ICE programmes include:
Conserving Bio-Cultural Diversity
ICE builds on lessons learnt and the phenomenal goodwill of local communities and other stakeholders to learn from the cumulative knowledge of their forefathers in order to protect existing ecosystems. This involves elder-led dialogues to revive and cultivate interest in indigenous knowledge; protection of sacred sites as potent source areas of indigenous conservation knowledge; recuperating the knowledge and planting indigenous crops; as well as production and planting of important indigenous trees. Schools in Kiambu, Nairobi, Meru, Tharaka and Yatta are involved in planting trees on compounds of their schools. Other strategies with communities include production of eco-maps and eco-calendars which are used to lobby for greater management and control of local ecosystems and for development of innovative ecological learning strategies.
Promoting community reconstruction
ICE works with communities to bring back learning spaces traditionally used to impart essential societal values in young people. Traditional governance structures have become very important in holding this process. In the target areas, ICE is reviving the local councils of elders and the spaces for local learning are strengthened. Other processes that cultivate and strengthen communion amongst people include food festivals, exchange visits with other communities, community learning centre’s, eco-displays and farmer field days. These processes also strengthen intra-community communication and sharing which are strong pillars of living communities. In this way the community is able to identify common issues affecting them and evolve common responses, as well as consolidating their voices on common issues of concern.
Strengthening research and advocacy initiatives
ICE supports communities to form community research groups comprised of elders and young people. The elders share their stories about indigenous seeds with the youth and together they identify what seeds to bring back and how. These groups have been very effective in providing leadership, lobbying for support from government representatives in sensitive matters and participating in campaigns against external threats such as genetic engineering, agro-fuels and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). They have also been very instrumental in campaigning for revitalization and recognition of local governance structures based on local culture as a vehicle for social control, accountable leadership, alternative learning and ecological governance.
Contact: Gathuru Mburu
Address: Morgage House No. 65, PO Box 6270 - 01000, Thika, Kenya
Tel: (+254) 67 22373
Mobile: (+254) 72 368 4523
Fax: +254 67 22338
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