Elimu Asilia

Kenya's Indigenous Knowledge

Subaland ecosystem is described as Semi-tropical, on islands and Lacustine coastal type with basal rock. There area has an average altitude of 3700 ft. (1200 m asl). Their climatic zone is hot-wet, due to its proximity to the Lake Victoria. Vegetation is described as Lakeshore Savannah in the lowlands and mixed forest on hilltops such as Gwassi hills forest. 

Swamp and swamp vegetation pre-dominate the lake shores, mainly grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae). Periodic floods affect areas around Mfangano, Rusinga,   Kaksingiri and Kasigunga.

Source: Elimu Asilia workshop in April 2015 at Mbita

Biodiversity Resources - Wildlife

Subaland is endowed with different biodiversity resources including plants, birds,  and wildlife, among them the rare water antelopes (Nyambaja in Olusuba) found on Ruri Hills.

Other animals in Subaland include the leopard, bu¬aloes, antelopes,hippos, crocodiles and snakes in Ruma Forest.

Mfangano Island hosts more than 350 species of interesting birds.

Source: www.UNESCO.org and Elimu Asilia workshop in April 2015 at Mbita

Useful Plants of Subaland


Omwako (Oleo africana)
Photo: Gilbert Busolo, 2016

Subaland has several scattered forests like Gwassi Hills range, Ngendo, ngorome, Ruma National Park Forest and Rurri Hills, from which the community derives wood and grasses for use in many home activities. Important indigenous trees include Ompoto, Sangla, Ochol, omukuyu (fig-tree ‘Ficus sp.’), Omande and omwako (Olea africana) referred to as the peace tree. Omwako is planted at the boundary of warring communities to mark their territories as a sign of peace and place for meeting during conflict resolution.

Source: Elimu Asilia validation meeting, April 2016 

Medicinal Plants of the Abasuba


Ekyiandu (Nerium oleander)
Photo: Gilbert Busolo, 2016

The Abasuba use medicinal plants to treat various ailments. Some of these plants are Ekiyandu (Nerium oleandar): used to tame a child and release mucus, Iwinuwinu (Senna didymobotrya): used for healing skin diseases and Omuguruti (Dovyalis abbysinica): Mixed with katsero (traditional salt) to clear congested chest, Obalandago (Ricinus communis): used by traditional birth attendants to expel placenta and to manage other birth complications. Other medicinal plants include Siagutu, Olemo, Ochol, Ogaka (Aloe).

Source: Elimu Asilia Validation meeting in Subaland April 2016

Other uses of plants among the Abasuba


Omukuyu (Fig tree)
Photo: Gilbert Busolo, 2016

Some trees were vital in predicting weather changes. For instance, when the omukuyu (fig-tree ‘Ficus sp.’) sheds its leaves, it indicates the onset of dry season. Placing the sticks of Ekithe in a certain direction is believed to stop rain from falling to prevent the disruption of ceremonies e.g. wedding or funeral.


Egutu (Euphobia)
Photo: Gilbert Busolo, 2016

Egutu (Euphorbia tree) is used to catch liars.

Source: Elimu Asilia workshop in April 2016