The Kesho Trust has three specific priorities:
- Community-based Conservation: We work on the principle that improved conservation is integral to healthy, sustainable communities. We are engaged in efforts to improve resource utilization practices [e.g. agriculture and forestry], expand renewable energy production, improve efficiency of water use, promote recycling, and improve waste management. These efforts are all important if natural ecosystems on which human activity depends are to remain healthy and productive. We believe the necessary approach is to integrate human activity compatibly into environments rather than impose it at the expense of natural processes.
- Economic and Community Development: At the core of sustainability is the need for people to improve their condition and provide adequately for their families. People must be able to achieve personal income goals through alternative environmentally friendly ways if practices that are currently degrading the environmental and contributing to the breakdown of ecosystem resilience are to be changed. We help people, especially those whose access to and capacity to use resources is limited, to find livelihood options that are sustainable.
- Conservation Education: A fundamental barrier to implementing conservation strategies at the local level and developing sustainable livelihood options is the level of education and understanding of ecological principles. Therefore we also strengthen public knowledge and awareness of the value of conservation, both within local communities and beyond.
Throughout our work we are cognizant of some important opportunities that we as an organization can take up to enrich the work we undertake and to demonstrate effectiveness in our development activity.
The Kesho Trust – given our geographic scope on different continents, countries and regions – recognizes the immense value of cross-cultural sharing of information and experience. We actively promote experience sharing in ways that can contribute to this cross fertilization – either through media or personal engagement. We believe that collaboration of this sort can make a significant contribution to local people and their capacity to make a difference in their own communities.
The Kesho Trust is aware that reaching those who are the most disadvantaged in society means working with disabled people. We are also cognizant of the responsibilities of nation states who are signatories to the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [which includes Canada and Tanzania], and by extension development NGOs like us, who committed to include disabled people in development programs. Thus we are making efforts to ensure our work is accessible to everyone. We have a commitment to work in an inclusive way, and are developing the skills and tools necessary to accomplish that.
We use a social/rights based approach to disability, focusing on the barriers within society that exclude persons with disabilities rather than on their individual impairments. Reducing barriers to information and services means focusing on such actions as:
- reducing negative attitudes that make it less likely for persons with disabilities to be hired for jobs, enrolled in schools or given a loan;
- improving the design of classrooms, offices and meeting halls so that these spaces are made more accessible to those with physical/mobility impairments; and,
- improving information and awareness campaigns so that deaf and visually impaired people are equally able to access critical information on such services as HIV/AIDs prevention or vaccinations programs.
We are also mindful of the need to work with people with disabilities, not on their behalf, which means developing a respectful and informed relationship with representative groups of people with disabilities – Disabled People’s Organization [DPO] – and their members. The most effective way to ensure any development activity is inclusive is to work directly with persons with disabilities.