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WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2019

By Lorraine Dixon

World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5thof June. The theme for this year is “AirPollution“.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution occurs when gases, dust particles, fumes (or smoke) or odour are introduced into the atmosphere in a way that makes it harmful to humans, animals and plant.This is because the air becomes dirty (contaminated or unclean). 

Where does it come from?

Air pollution can result from both human and natural actions. Natural events that pollute the air include forest fires, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, pollen dispersal, evaporation of organic compounds and natural radioactivity. Human actions that pollute the air include Household combustion devices like jikos (cook stoves), motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.

What are the Effects of Air Pollution?

The 2017 Kenya Economic Survey estimated that 19.9 million Kenyans suffer from respiratory ailments that are made worse by poor air quality. Over 5 million Kenyans living in major cities and towns are directly exposed to toxic emissions mainly from motor vehicles, industries, use of traditional fuels and kerosene used for cooking and heating. Indiscriminate burning of solid waste also causes air pollution. Air pollution causes death and increased illnesses such as respiratory ailments, heart conditions, brain damage and cancers. It is estimated that 14,300 Kenyans die annually due to conditions attributed to air pollution (Ministry of Environment, 2018). Pollution also affects plants and agricultural yields.

What is Kenya doing about it?

Kenya gazetted Air Quality Regulations in 2014 that specify air quality standards, as well as steps to be taken for “prevention, control and abatement” of air pollution in recognition of the terrible toll it takes on the health of Kenyans’ health.. However, there have been challenges with enforcing the regulations due to a lack of high-quality air quality monitoring data. 


What can I do about it?

  • Conserve energy – remember to turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use
  • Use energy efficient light bulbsand appliancessuch as energy saving jikos
  • Limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking and walkingwhenever possible
  • Compost organic food items and recycle non-organic trash
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners
  • Use water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that say “low VOC”
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent volatile organic compounds from evaporating into the air

The focus of this year’s World Environment Day is to urge governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world. 

Join the campaign and help us create more awareness by participating in the #BeatAirPollution challenge. For more information please visit https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/get-involved/world-environment-day-mask-challenge

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Tourism and Climate Change

By Danson Imbwaga Matekwa

“The time is past when humankind thought it would selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now that the world is not a commodity.”  Francoise Hollande, Former President of the French Republic.

Climate is a key resource for tourism and the sector is highly sensitive to the impacts of climate change and global warming, many elements of which are already being felt.  Tourism is estimated to be responsible for 5% of global CO2emissions. Threats for the sector are diverse, including direct and indirect impacts such as more extreme weather events, increasing insurance costs and safety concerns, water shortages, biodiversity loss and damage to assets and attractions at destinations, among others.Globally – all major coral reefs are expected to be severely degraded by 2050 and 32% risk die-off by 2050.

Photo credit: Africa Wildlife Foundation

Tourism development has grabbed the attention of policy makers and politicians in Africa in the quest to achieve greater economic development through employment creation and catalyzing other related industries such as agriculture. With tourism growth as an almost certainty, its share of environmental pollution will increase. Climate change remains a threat towards sustainability of the tourism sector in the continent. Particular issues of concern include negative environmental impacts on destinations that affect the quality of life for the host community.

Climate-change impacts that affect tourism in African countries include: beach erosion, saline intrusion, droughts, flash floods and landslides, coral-reef bleaching, less productive fisheries and agricultural systems, changes in the preferences of tourists, etc. Today, new tourist centers and cities are planned to make them more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Kenya is facing climate change induced challenges, such as variation in weather patterns, unpredictable water levels in lakes and rivers, frequent and prolonged droughts and flash floods. 

Women fetch water from depleted Mara River Photo credit:Kiplagat, Standar

The country’s wild life and other tourist attractions, which are major contributors to the nation’s economy, are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For example, flash floods associated with El Niño rains and their impact on infrastructure especially in Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru; prolonged droughts in major national parks; the shifts in wildebeest migration in response to rain fall patterns; and melting of snow caps on Mount Kenya due to increases in temperature. 

With tourism contributing to 9.7% of GDP and 9% of total employment in the country in 2018, it is imperative for swift and tangible action to address the climate change challenge to avoid major losses. For the sustenance and further development of tourism, it is important that climate change is address holistically through favorable policies for mitigation and adaptation action on the ground. 

Tourism for Sustainable Development

By Danson Imbwaga Matekwa

“With more than one billion international tourists now traveling the world each year, tourism has become a powerful and transformative force that is making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people. The potential of tourism for sustainable development is considerable.  As one of the world’s leading employment sectors, tourism provides important livelihood opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty and drive inclusive development.”

 Ban Ki-moon, Former United Nations Secretary-General

Kenya is one of the leading destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa mainly known as the home of the original Safari and iconic world marathon champions. For decades, millions of visitors have taken Safaris, meaning a journey to various wildlife habitats to experience nature, witness the wildlife spectacles, open wilderness, and interact with the indigenous communities. Kenya’s tourism is over 80% nature-based with the revenues generated going back to protect its base resources. 

The hotel industry in Kenya has significantly grown in the last 5 years, with hotels from Hilton, Radisson Blu, Pullman, Best Western and Mӧvenpick opening establishments in the country. Kenya’s 2018 tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 % from the previous year to cross the two million mark for the first time, posting a significant growth in earnings to USD 1.5 billion. The total contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP was USD 7.9 million, 9.7% of GDP in 2018.In 2018, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry was 9.0% of total employment – 1,172,247 jobs (WTTC, 2018). It is against this vibrant growth that there is need to emphasise the importance of the industry’s adoption of more environmentally sustainable practices. 

Kenya’s Vision 2030, the national economic blueprint, recognizes tourism as one of the lead sectors with potential to contribute to 10% GDP growth. This has resulted in the repositioning of tourism through development of resort cities in the Kenyan Coast and Isiolo; and revamping of under-utilized parks; diversification to include new high value niche products and value addition to business-visitor offering. The Tourism Act, 2011 provides for the development, management, marketing and regulation of sustainable tourism and tourism related activities and services, and for connected purposes. To this effect, Kenya launched the National Tourism Blueprint 2030 and National Wildlife Strategy 2030 in June 2018, demonstrating the country’s commitment to developing these sectors. 

It is against this backdrop that the concept of Sustainable Tourism presents a significant opportunity to drive the country’s development agenda forward. According to the World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities”.

Therefore, sustainable tourism should:

1) Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

2) Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

3) Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation. 

The Kenyan journey towards sustainability continues and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a good framework for prioritizing areas for sustainability initiatives for individuals, organizations and destinations in Kenya. The tourism industry, both private and public sectors, have a key role to play.  With global adoption of these goals, creating job opportunities, promoting local cultures, products and experiences, and developing & implementing tools to monitor the sustainable development impacts of tourism will be an ongoing focus for the Kenya tourism industry (KTB, 2016). Sustainable tourism is explicitly mentioned in three of the goals:

  • Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and productive patterns
  • Goal 14:  Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

Source: UNWTO

Going forward, the challenge for the tourism industry in Kenya and the world over is to make sustainable tourism mainstream rather than niche as well as making an impactful contribution towards achievement of the sustainable development goals as indicated above given the multiplier effect brought about by the vertical and horizontal linkages between tourism and other sectors of the economy.

LAUNCH OF ECO-SCHOOLS AND WORLD WATER DAY CELEBRATIONS IN KITUI COUNTY

The Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE), in conjunction with the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), organized an event to launch the Eco schools Programme in Kitui County and celebrate World Water Day at Migwani Secondary School in Mwingi West Constituency on 23rd March 2019.

Check out the full report below.

YOUTH FOR GREEN GROWTH by Lorraine Dixon

In the words of Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, we are living in “a complex, uncertain and anxious world”. Challenges are steep across the board – from coming to grips with the fourth industrial revolution to strengthening effective multilateralism, to ending poverty and building more open and cohesive societies.

In 2015, the world came together to chart a new course for the next 15 years, embodied in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also the Paris Climate Agreement. Kenya has been a top advocate of Agenda 2030 and was a member of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons who advised the United Nations Secretary General on the global development framework beyond 2015. The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau co-chaired the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on SDGs mandated to develop a set of sustainable development goals. 

Kenya has mainstreamed the SDGs in both national and county development plans, with the launch of the Green Economy Strategy Implementation Plan (GESIP) cementing the country’s commitment to green growth. The policy framework for Green Economy is designed to support a globally competitive low carbon development path through promoting economic resilience and resource efficiency, sustainable management of natural resources, development of sustainable infrastructure and providing support for social inclusion.

The Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE) is affiliated to the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and is the sole implementer of FEE programmes in Kenya that include Eco-schools and Learning About Forests. Eco-Schools is an international programme for schools working on sustainability issues. The Eco-Schools strategy is a whole-school approach that uses all members, departments and stakeholders of the school to address local challenges of sustainable development.

MESPT’s partnership with the Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE) to implement the Schools Green Challenge, purposes to help transform schools into models of sustainability for communities, through the Eco Schools platform. Through imparting eco-friendly enterprise skills students are prepared for the real world by showing them how to generate green incomes and opportunities which enhance their communities’ resilience and improve their economic status.

Why work with schools? Education stands at the heart of our new development agenda – as a basic human right, as a transformational force for poverty eradication, as the engine for sustainability, and as a driver of dialogue and peace. This is embodied in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”. Education is our deepest source of hope – we must plant the seeds now for a better future tomorrow.

We must not only transform our economies, but also our education systems to encourage critical thinking, initiative and new competences. Only then will we manage to make production and consumption sustainable, to provide new skills for greener industries, and to orient higher education and research towards sustainable innovation. Education needs to keep up with the changing face of work and to build sustainability in the face of climate change. 

Young people are at the forefront of environmental innovations that are changing the face of development in Africa. A case in point is Leroy Mwasaru, a 16 year old student at Maseno School, who together with 4 of his classmates designed a Human Waste Bioreactor, turning human waste into energy to power gas stoves in the school. He subsequently set up Greenpact in 2015 after school, a company which produces and distributes affordable and high-quality innovative biogas digester systems to get biogas from both agricultural and human refuse. Leroy has been ranked second on the Forbes 30 under 30 list of young entrepreneurs and next generation billionaires in 2018. 

Tatro Primary School is an Eco-school in Siaya County doing integrated semi-intensive system (semi-free range system) of poultry and fish farming. Pupils are actively involved and are encouraged to replicate what they learn at home. The project has led improved local food supply, as it has enabled the establishment of a sustainable feeding programme for its approximately 500 pupils, as well as sale of chicken and fish to the local community. People visit the school farm to learn about poultry or fish farming at a small fee. 

The above examples are a mere snapshot of the immense life-changing potential our young people have, and therefore the need to involve them as capable actors, and not mere beneficiaries, of the green growth and sustainable agenda. This means green and transferable skills must be taught in schools, higher education institutions and other tertiary learning institutions to harness their abilities in the pursuit of inclusive competitive low carbon development.

CLIMATE CHANGE REPORTING

The Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE), with funding support from Act, Change, Transform (Act!), is implementing a project that aims at enhancing public awareness on existing climate change response strategies and policies and with an objective of training journalists on climate change reporting and developing booklets with guidelines on climate change reporting. The project will be implemented in Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, Laikipia, Baringo and Turkana Counties.

Kenya’s state of environmental journalism has seen some improvement compared to previous years. However, much is needed to instill appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and practices of environmental journalism, especially in climate change reporting. While most journalists depict some knowledge in climate change, they require further specialized training in climate change reporting to enhance their content and reporting practice. The lack of proper linkage and communication between journalists and climate change experts is among the major challenges facing science reporters in Kenya. Also, inadequate training, limited resources and uncooperative editorials were cited as major challenges for climate change reporters. These challenges could be addressed through initiatives such as organizing training on climate change reporting, and capacity building for environmental and other journalists.

WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION 2017 CELEBRATIONS REPORT

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The objectives of the event were to create awareness about impacts of climate change and efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought collectively, promote peace building for sustainable resource use and management and create a platform for networking and partnerships among stakeholders to join hands for sustainable living. Activities of the day included talks on sustainable living, planting of 1,000 indigenous trees by schools and other participants, poems/songs/dance/drama performances by schools and other groups with messages on sustainable environmental management and peace and exhibitions of green innovations/projects by participating schools and institutions.

Click Here For Full Report

KOEE & GAGF PARTNERSHIP

Green Africa Global Foundation (GAGF) and Kenya Organisation of Environmental Education (KOEE) agree to partner in implementing the Environmental Education and Awareness Program in Kenyan Government Schools in slum areas projects in Kawangware and Dagoreti in Nairobi County.

The Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE) is a Public Benefits Organization founded in 1997 under the Agenda 21 with a global partnership to protect the dignity of the environment. KOEE is a member of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)-International, with the head office located in Nairobi, Runda Glory. KOEE focuses on four main program areas: – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Environmental Governance, and Services & Entrepreneurship development. Currently, Some of KOEE projects include; Learning About Forests, Faith-based Education for Sustainable Development and Faith-based Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development and Eco-schools, on which the Partnership is based.

The Green Africa Global Foundation main objective is to promote sustainable development, environmental conservation, energy, culture, access to agriculture and education in communities within Kenya as a whole hence enhancing sustainable socio-economic conditions. GAGF vision is to create a better world for current and future generations in Africa with the mission being to; promote sustainable development, Promote sustainable energy, culture, Environmental conservation, Empower the intellectual capabilities of people and Enhancing fundamental needs of the human being.

The purpose of this agreement is to support achievement of the objectives and overall goal of the Environmental Education and Awareness Program in Kenyan Government Schools Project through mutual collaboration between GAGF and KOEE.

SHAURI MOYO PEACE MAKERS

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When it comes to Youth Empowerment nothing brings joy to the heart than seeing the youth doing positive and productive activities with their time. We gave out some football kits which were provided by our partners Play It On and a new ball to Shaurimoyo Peacemakers as well as gave them a small talk on the environment and why they should take care of it.