There are about 150,000 hectares of bamboo forests in Kenya, partly pure and partly in mixture with trees and shrubs. Bamboo in Kenya play a very important role in fencing, house construction, water harvesting, cottage industries dealing with matchsticks, baskets, tooth-picks, various other handicrafts and, in agricultural farming especially for supporting horticultural crops.
Kenya does not have any substantial quantity of rattan to warrant in-depth discussion in the present summary. Much of the discussion will therefore be based on bamboo. It is apparent however that use of rattan is common in small scale especially in the production of basketry by groups supported externally and internally to provide employment opportunities especially to disabled people.
Planned and sustainable utilization of forests containing bamboo is feasible and no doubt would go a long way in providing self-employment and job opportunities to the rural population a part from being instrumental in bridging the gap between requirement and availability of indigenous raw-material for pulp and paper industry. The later use of bamboo has however not been developed, not only in Kenya but also in the entire Africa.
The sections that follow below provide an outline of the state of bamboo in Kenya, its present role and constraints that affect its development. Existing activities are outlined and the needs for bamboo development are suggested.
About the Author:
The author is associated with Kenya Forestry Research Institute.