Over 100,000 people live in 50 villages adjacent to the Arabuko Sokoke forest. Most are small-scale subsistence farmers who utilize the forest for some of their livelihood requirements. The main food crops are maize, cassava and beans amid stands of cash crops of coconut and cashew nut trees.
In 1993 at the start of Kipepeo the community annual per capita income was US$ 50. Through the Kipepeo supported livelihoods most have doubled this per capita with the earnings ranging from USD 100 to USD 800 per year depending on their individual efforts.
Producer Associations of mainly butterfly farmers and beekeepers participate in the management of nature-based enterprises at Kipepeo through the Market Place Committee that acts as its Board. The groups are also actively involved in forest protection, advocacy and awareness creation of the benefits of the nature based enterprises.
The project affects over 100 000 people in 50 villages around Arabuko Sokoke Forest. Approximately over 10,000 are directly involved in Nature Based enterprises e.g. Butterfly farming, Apiculture, Agro forestry, Aloe farming and Mushroom farming. The Butterfly farmers have been clustered into 26 community groups whose representatives interact with the project management through regular meetings where production, marketing and welfare issues are discussed. The project staff also visits members in the various villages on regular field visits.
Fostering an increased awareness & better understanding of the natural environment is one of the primary course of Kipepeo project, to achieve this goal the project extension work closely with teachers/students through its multi-faceted environmental education program