The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund, a charitable trust in Kenya, operates in the Tana watershed. The project engages local communities in conservation, particularly through the promotion of agroforestry and tree growing for carbon sequestration. This generates carbon credits validated and managed under the Plan Vivo Standard. The water fund is working with tens of thousands of farmers across four counties - Laikipia, Nyeri, Murang’a, and Nyandarua, conserving over 330,000 hectares of land and sequestering millions of tonnes of carbon (removal). The trees planted are designed to provide long-term cover, reduce soil erosion, and provide livelihood benefits to communities. This complements the Trust’s biodiversity conservation work. 


Benefits that Upper Tana provides


Start date 2017
Coordinator Water Fund Upper-Tana Nairobi (UTNWF)
Activities Agroforestry
Participants 165,000 local farmers targeted by the scheme
PVCs issued to-date 20,000


The detail

The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund Trust supports smallholder farmers with land averaging 1.6 acres. The trust helps farmers to design agroforestry systems, customised to their specific farm needs, and document their activities through co-owned Farm Specific Action Plans (FSAP) for long term monitoring. Their initial agroforestry systems include fruit orchards, alley cropping, enrichment fallows, dispersed interplanting, and boundary planting. As the project expands, additional agroforestry systems and forest restoration interventions will be added. 

A participatory planning process involves individual farmers and the project’s extended staff. They discuss options that are suitable for every farm to generate an FSAP. The project provides training and materials (such as tree seedlings and technologies) to enable them to succeed in farming, carbon sequestration, and caring for their environment.  

This watershed is an important water tower and home to rich biodiversity. It is the water source for the capital city Nairobi and serves approximately 9 million people as well as powering the Masinga hydro-power system. This provides 40% of the country’s electricity.  The watershed is also home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife. This includes African elephants, Cape buffaloes, Leopards, Colobus monkeys and Mountain Bongo antelopes that live in the protected parks. Due to pristine areas being converted and used for agricultural purposes, endemic species such as Vitex keniensis and Prunus africana have been listed as endangered species.

The project hopes to scale up to benefit more farmers, increase food production and incomes, and grow more of the rare indigenous and high value species. This in turn will restore biodiversity and prevent further degradation of ecosystems.  


The documents





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SDG details

See how the project provides benefits beyond carbon and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Development Goal How the project contributes
  • Project targets over 100,000 vulnerable men and women with improved livelihoods and conserved farmlands. It promotes adoption of climate-smart agriculture.
  • Helping farmers implement sustainable land management practices and build their resilience to climate shocks while diversifying and increasing food production on farms. These include targeted extension support and trainings to over 51,000 farmers, promotion of agroforestry at scale, soil and water conservation and development of 3 produce value chains. 

  • The project’s gender action plan helps targeted support and higher levels of subsidy for women, youth, and the elderly. Priority is to increase number of women participating in decision-making at household level for sustainable land and water management, access rights to productive resources including land and farm-based assets and providing skills, knowledge and technologies that promote gender balanced participation and benefits to all.

  • The project addresses the water security challenge for both upstream (people at the top) and downstream (people at the tap) communities. By investment at scale on farmlands and forests, the watershed capacity to absorb, store and gradually release water through the river systems regulates flows during the wet and dry seasons. At farm level, soil and conservation and rehabilitation of degraded farmlands through agroforestry with both fruit and indigenous trees and rainwater harvesting in water pans for domestic and irrigation. Riparian buffers are protected and conserved by delimiting farming, planting grasses, trees, and bamboo to prevent banks from collapsing and erosion. The project also supports establishment of terraces, grass strips, and road runoff water harvesting that prevents sedimentation in rivers and reservoirs.
  • The project promotes a whole system approach at farm and ecosystem levels. Tree growing in farmlands to increase tree density and diversify species for multiple uses. Reducing pressure on natural forests and woodlands by providing fast growing trees on farms. Promoting multipurpose trees and shrubs, and high protein content Napier and Brachiaria grasses to improves zero grazing. Supporting households to install biogas units increases access to and improves share of renewable energy mix in rural households.
  • The project works with thousands of farmers, local actors, corporates, national and county governments to promote sustainable land management practices and rehabilitate degraded forests and community areas. Through agroforestry, riparian protection, establishment of orchards on farms, rainwater harvesting, grass strips, road runoff harvesting, and promotion of biogas are building the resilience and adaptive capacity of people and nature to climate hazards. 

    Through training, awareness raising and capacity enhancement of rural populations and local institutions, the project builds capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts and improve resilience of framers through improved food production and food security.

  • The project embodies a whole ecosystem approach and works to conserve and protect both aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by the watershed. Working in forests and farmlands, the project protects and conserves forest and agrobiodiversity that contribute to improved livelihoods and ecosystems services that enhance food security and human health for rural and urban communities, provides clean air and water and absorbs CO2 emissions from the environment. This is done through capacity-building of communities and implementing partners, providing conservation materials, skills and knowledge to conserve and protect pristine ecosystems and rehabilitate degraded sites.