Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keep Garissa Clean Campaign

Garissa is a town that has been associated with haphazard waste throwing for quite sometime
. In the recent years, Abdikadir has been on the frontline in coming up with initiatives in changing the attitude of the community towards proper management of waste. He has come up with “Keep Garissa Clean Campaign”. The campaign has got support from Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) and the County Government of Garissa. This project has so far distributed 500 drum bins for managing of waste within Garissa Municipality and its environs. The greatest beneficiaries of these are hospitals, schools, shopping centres and Central Business District (CBD.

Solid waste still remains an environmental challenge in Garissa Municipality.

If someone has ever witnessed an animal being slaughtered with plastics in their stomachs, there is a lot to be discovered. Garissa municipality main slaughter house has series of drama to this environmental pollutant.

In the parliament, the politicians have been putting efforts on one kilometer, one vote but in this case, it is different. One metre, one plastic product.

Plastics are used for a various reasons although plastics are certainly globally important product, there are many environmental concerns with its usage. Plastics are non-biodegradable. One of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags take up to 1000 years.

One of the positive characteristics of plastics is that it is durable. Unfortunately, this is not a positive characteristic when it comes to the environment. The fact that plastics are durable means it degrades slowly. In addition, burning plastics can result in toxic fumes and lead to respiratory diseases. Apart from trying to get rid of plastics creating it can be costly to the environment as well.

Many plastics remain floating on the surface of our water ways, the place where many food sources life making them attractive to our livestock. Many livestock are killed each day out to plastics. Many of them ingest plastic bags mistaking them for food and therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bags remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus it lies in landscape where another victim may ingest.

Every once in a while, the government here passes out an order banning shop keepers from providing bags to customers for carrying their purchases with little lasting effects. Plastic bags are popular with retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap, strong, light weight, functional, as well as other good.

Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without them, they are responsible for causing pollution killing animals and using the precious resources on earth.

Plastic bags litter the landscape. Once they are used, most plastics go into landfill or rubbish tips. Each year, more and more plastics are sending up littering the environment. Once they become litter, plastics find their ways into water ways, drainage canal.

Single use of plastic bags have become such an ubiquitous way of life that is seems as if simple we can start reducing their use in small ways.

Recycling the plastics use already is another good idea. These came into use of various solid waste management techniques like holding garbage at homestead level while the government may be working out ways to lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

Drainage has become poor as a result of plastics blocking water culverts. Due to low topography, there are a lot of water drainage canals both natural and man-made. Heavy floods clean the town but majority of the waste that is washed away, are plastic bags and other garbage. This has opened up breeding zone for mosquitoes especially this month of April whereby the level of rainfall was quite high. Mosquitoes feel quite warmth in plastic bags than even bushes.

The Garissa Municipality in collaboration with Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) have distributed dustbins within the central business district to each shop and all business premises having one. Since then, the level of haphazardly scattering of waste has reduced. Unfortunately, these dustbins are too small and are not everywhere within the municipality. The Municipal council also has to come with systematic collections of these plastic wastes so as to ensure the level reduces. Though there are no plastic recycling centers in town, fighting them has become a problem. Another thing is that there is no monitory value in them after use. It could create job opportunities especially to our unemployed youths. The plastics recycling companies do buy them at a very low prices in a way that any entrepreneur or individual who could gain interest in them, gets discouraged. However, each one of us should shoulder some of the responsibility from this problem which ultimately harm us.

According to Abdikadir Sheikh Abdisalan, an environmental officer working with the National Environment Management Authority based in Wajir, states that in a place called Eldas, they have established a plastic free society initiative. Plastics have caused deaths of large number of livestock especially shoats. The use of plastics has increased in the region. Due to change in lifestyle and consumption habits, most of the packet of choice is flimsy paper bags and they are one time use. Consequently, there is no waste collection due to the services not going beyond the town locality. After realizing the loss of animals, the community sat down and the Locational Environment Committees (LEC) and came up with a resolution in the area. All shopkeepers were asked not to bring plastics bags to the remote areas. They were also given time to clear the initial stock with minimum time possible. Any business premise that did not follow the agreed terms, is fined a fee of Kenya shillings two thousand only collected by the village elders and the local people. They have established a Local Environment Management Committee who ensure that the decision of the LEC is implemented.

Officials from the Ministry of Public Health are working tirelessly together with other relevant stakeholders in towards cleanliness and one of the factors that have been a success in the banning of nylons from shops. The level of awareness is low with a back up from ignorance. Unless attitude is changed, the impact will still be on. The use of these products they do not comply with clean environmental principles which entails safe dumping after use by throwing it anywhere and anyhow. These people they need a series of attitude change and comprehensive awareness creation that will instill discipline among users of plastic products who are mainly targetted as women, youth and pastoralists who come from very far to do shopping in town.

While there are many questions left unanswered when it comes to the environment and plastics, it is clear plastic is here to stay for a very long time.

Attitude is everything. Change your attitude, and you change your life and the environment

Kenya Must break silence and intervene war in Central African Republic.

It is almost two years down the line since the civil war in Central African Republic that started on 10th December 2012. I can no longer keep silent from the war spreading. I have duties and responsibilities as a Kenyan citizen in ensuring that we are safe and at the same time contribute to the peace and prosperity in Africa. The war between the Government and rebels has so far led to deaths, displacements of people, abuse of human rights abuses including the use of child soldiers, rape, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Enough is enough and it is now time to respond at all cost. Kenya being amongst the African countries with strong military force has been in the frontline in ensuring peace and stability within the continent of Africa. Kenya’s Armed forces are considered to be the most powerful in East and Central Africa. This credential has given the Kenyan government through the Kenyan Defense Forces to participate and continue to participate in international Peace Support Operations. The most successful one being “Operation linda nchi” in the war-torn country of Somalia. As a country, our profile has always emerged as the best peacekeepers in the United Nations Security Council and the African Union. From the worst nightmare peace keeping operations Thanks to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta for intervening the war in South Sudan by taking the leading role in peace and negotiations process and for honouring the pledge he made at the AU summit in Addis Ababa to the African Peace fund. Our President is our great leader and wants peace for Africa Continent. Why not us? Why not emulate the same to our neighbouring countries? What makes me proud as a Kenyan citizen is the love for internal and external peace. There have been even worse peace missions and most successful ones. Just going back to history, the first and foremost comprehensive participation of the Kenya Peace Support operations was in 1979, when the Commonwealth requested the Republic of Kenya to contribute troops for a Peace Mission in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in Chad in 1982, in Namibia in 1989, in Yugoslavia, Balkan state between 1992 and 1995, Sierra Leon between 1999 and 2003 and operation linda nchi that began on 16 October 2011, when troops from Kenya crossed the border into the conflict zones of southern Somalia. The peace mission is endless and as a country, we should focus more on how to bring peace for the other countries that have been affected by uprisings; Libya and Egypt. As a country we have to respond very fast in this bad situation. This is beyond humanity. No one can stand to the flesh of humans get roasted. This is not a holy war. This just bad politics that have turned sour. It is not time to create a holy war in a piece of land whose population of Muslims are few. It time to rise up and combat uprisings and acts of terror that are torning Africa apart. We shall and we will never stand witnessing this coming home soon. I humbly request His Excellency Mr. President of the Republic of Kenya to extend his hands of mercy to the stability of Central African Republic. The future is Africa. Africa must unite.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Campaign materials a great threat to our environment.

It is campaign period here in Kenya and the streets look beautiful in white printed posters with politicians and to-be politicians on suits. Each aspirant wants to be noticed and heard in the loudest voice. From printing of mass posters to stickers and street banners and playing of audio music in their SUVs, they will try all possible means to campaigns. New fresh blood of leadership is needed indeed. But that does not mean that we neglect our immediate surroundings. From the old to the young all want to vie for the available positions for the new government. None of them seems to care much of our environment when in the United States of America President Barack Obama campaign team ensured that they use the latest available of technology. From sending of text messages to phone calls and even sending of tweets, they were very conservative on environmental issues. Things are different here in Kenya. The target audiences mostly reside in the rural areas unlike in the US where everyone is in a State. Imagine campaign in a location with no electricity and no network accees. In fact it is a headache. This encourages the politicians to take advantage to increase their publicities. The parliament that could pass laws has been dissolved and thus the power of most authorities is just low. They forget that their first task is to hire private companies to clean up the mess when they report to office. Few hired individuals do not have any respect for any persons’ property whether private or public. They pin posters all over. When the owners discover this has been done, they get mad and pluck off the posters sending back it to the streets as wastes. When holding public rallies too, the use big public addresses systems generating a lot of noise. Noise above 8 decibels is harmful to the hearing system of human beings. They should be regulated and generated at a low land safe levels. I believe there is a need we take the lead and campign peacefully with the best technologies to protect our environment. We should encourage good practices in our promotional materials. We should also promote peaceful elections. Lets stay in a peaceful and a habitable environment.

Environmental friendly school leading by example.

The other day I visited a primary school within my area where I went to monitor different environmental projects going on in the school. It was midday and every pupil rushed for a space in the benches. Pupils from different backgrounds would sit together in the mercy of Mother Nature having a break under a shade from trees they had been watering for years at times one could expect same children sited in the hot sun having a small lunch yet sweating for the place with a history of hottest sun over decades. Yathrib Primary School is a public primary school located in Medina Location of Garissa Municipality. This is a school every young and old would love to spend a day at. From tree planting to waste management, water harvesting, energy saving, to hygiene promotion and finally to environmental education, this is an environmental friendly school. Happiness and shy smiles is seen on the faces of girl children when playing handball. In an environment where trees grow by a chance, this school has a legacy to claim. The tall neem and Delonix ragia trees swinging can be seen from far distances. The blue painted school buildings can tell this is a peaceful environment both for learning and child development. The greening of the school has encouraged enrolment increase. “When I came to this school in 2010, we had 560 students. But now, there are more than 1,400.” Says Mr. Abdinoor Ole Huseein, the Headteacher , With the past years beyond 2010, the school has been a located in the wild with no settlements nearby and students going far distances to get quality education. At this moment, the neighbourhood no longer takes the risk of sending their children to distances. It takes them less than walking distance to the school. Imagine of a school with no trees and with no dump site within. In the middle of a lesson, a flying old newspaper comes to the classroom. Will that student concentrate on getting to see if the newspaper has a football photo or look at the teacher for that lesson on-going? That child is not settled psychologically. It means that a dirty environment affects their concentration of the child in class. Get me a piece of waste paper and I will get you back a dollar challenge does not seem to work here. With a journey of 1000 miles starting with one step, the institution has recycled waste water jerry cans with long handles and attached with a bicycle chain for the benefit of managing waste. The clean environment can put you in doubt that the students are no longer using the famous Kasuku exercise books but rather using wireless technology in learning. The tree planting activities have had positive response and attitude towards greening of the school. In the lower classes, every child is assigned a tree to take care for the period he or she will be within the school. With most resources in the region being scarce, the school administration did not miss an innovation to ensure the survival of trees. They have provided them with plastic jerry cans to ensure water sufficiency. Lucky them who get fresh and clean air meaning that these children are not exposed to polluted air. The school does not have to rely on water supply from the local water company neither is it scared of water shortages. Its roofs fitted with gutters can assure water sustainability within the school both for domestic and greening activities. The school harvests water during short and long rains. With more than 5 water tanks located at different spots within the compound, the school has guarantee for survival even with its tap running dry. Towards the end of last year, the school launched an eco-library to support its environmental awareness from practice to information sharing and dissemination. The environmental library is the only one on its kind in the region. Pupils have an access to different environmental learning materials from Tunza Magazine for children and youth to the Planet Magazine. Through this information, they get inspired by how young people from other parts of the world start small environmental initiatives in their communities and also at schools and how they get successful at a very young age. On completion of schooling period, the students will be in a good position to address these global issues through information sharing and advocacy and be able to replicate similar knowledge in other places even in their high school level or even when they join varsities. On energy, the institution uses solar energy in its Computer Laboratory. This has enabled learners to use new technologies yet cutting on cost of electricity. The primary school is one of the beneficiaries in the Garissa Street Greening- Kazi kwa Vijana programme that was initiated by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Through this, the school got support in terms of trees. In partnership, the school has been able to work close with different organizations such as the UNEP Department of Communications and Publications, UNICEF- Sopo Hand Washing Campaign, Garissa Municipal Council and the Kenya Forest Service, Garissa Energy Centre and many others. The school has made friends who purposely come and get fresh air at the same time sitting on the same bench with the students. from the area MP Hon.Aden Dualle who is a frequent visitor and His Worship the Mayor for Garissa Municipality Mr.Ismail Garat to Professor Olubayi of the Global Litearacy Project.The most eye catching tree that the school cannot witness dying or getting weak is the one planted by PS Ali Daud. With the school administration being highlighted on global environmental issues whether through an annual general meeting or through training of eco-club teachers, they have been supportive to all environmental activities at all cost within the school. Such schools who at their own cost implement small initiatives geared towards conservation of nature need to be recognized in here future. Where there is a green will, there is a green living and a green future.

Environmental education (EE) should be introduced in our learning institutions.

The coming years will belong to the young and upcoming generation who will form the 4th Generation. This generation requires young people who have knowledge on existing environmental issues whether local, national or even global. At this level, the upcoming generation will be equipped with environmental know-how and be able to tackle different environmental challenges. The direction in which the world is moving today is that each and every individual should be educated to the highest level but for our case as environmentalists what we need to advocate for is that environmental education concepts to be instilled in our upcoming generation. The learning and teaching aids should also be developed in different and simple to use languages hence targeting different genders and all kinds of persons. Environment, as an interactive entity, could be cited as the other side of life in the sense that the very basic support system for life is provided by environment only in one way or the other. Thus, considering the fast deteriorating environmental condition, it becomes necessary to make Environmental Education (EE) as a tool for life and learning right from one’s childhood. The best hope for learning to live sustainably lies in schools that is green in nature. It includes experiencing the natural world, learning how nature sustains life, nurturing healthy communities, recognizing the implications of the ways we feed and provide for ourselves; green living, actively engaging students in learning in and out of the classroom and finally and addressing complex issues and existing environmental opportunities within our learning institutions. Teachers are in a prime position to be able to weave these basics throughout the curriculum at any level. From the time a child is admitted to the time he or she graduates. They are the ones who determine the success of this Environmental knowledge. Whether they start with an environmental issue or with fundamental ecological principles, teachers can nurture the knowledge, skills, and values essential to sustainable living. Somewhere towards the end of last year, I had established an environmental library in one of the schools. This library being the only one in the region, has given the students the opportunity to borrow books and then bring them back. Imagine a child borrowing as story books with horror or magic getting developed in the brain; it might give the child sleepless nights and even developing bad dreams in the middle. But if the same child borrowed a Tunza Magazine or the Planet Magazine, he or she gets inspired by how young people from other parts of the world start small environmental initiatives in their communities and also at schools and how they get successful at a very young age. With most of the school administrations being highlighted on global environmental issues whether through an annual general meeting or through training of eco-club teachers, they are willing to support all environmental activities in learning institutions as curriculum activities. On completion of schooling period, the students will be in a good position to address these global issues through information sharing and advocacy and be able to replicate same knowledge in other places even in their high school level or even when they join varsities.

Why the young people should benefit from Green Economy.

The whole world is singing to the tune of green economy with the most developed nations this being part of their daily lives and to the upcoming nations, it is a new idea that can even take some time to develop. Every human wants water to be conserved, lights to be put off especially when it is not in any usage and use less than two pieces of cooking charcoal and in real sense, no one who will support wastage and extravagance. But this is exactly what the green economy is all about. Basically, green economy is where there is an improved well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, an economy where every human is benefiting from the Mother Nature in one way or the other. It is the proper utilization of the available natural resources. The highest population of today’s world is said to be the young people with still most of them being jobless. That does not mark the end of their entrepreneurship innovativeness. They still have a chance to participate in green activities for the bettering of their lives and those of their communities. The road towards Green Economy starts from where they are now. These youth are the upcoming brain children of today’s world. But most of them seem to have lost direction in life and that is why they keep on hopping in their careers and at the end to have lost focus in what they really want in their lives. They need green counseling for real. Most of them are in the rush of owning an iPhone4. But how many of them access for available green business opportunities? How many of these young people look for tenders to supply tree seedlings to a certain community or organization? Young boys and girls want to be seen entering offices while on white collar jobs but none of them who seem to wear an overall and go to farm and start a small agro-forestry business. They seem to be blind about available green opportunities but instead read news all day long about how football is. There are so many natural resources especially in Africa and a lot needs to be harnessed and properly used. Green products, knowledgeable society and good policies and governance structures are the key success to the Green Economy. We need government that can come up with regulations that are user-friendly for the youth and even support them to seek for funding from financial institutions. Green Economy does not mean that we do not exploit the natural resources but we use them sustainably. The involvement of the youth in the green economy will add value in the achievement of Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability by the end of the year 2015. This will lead to the recognition of the young in attaining these goals. It is high time that the young generation to bring heads together and think of available green opportunities and to come up with new green initiatives and innovations. As a beneficiary of the future generation, I have a big hope that much is going to be changed by the current young people. There is a need to recognize young people and should be the best role models who can lead by example. Such young people should be given the chance to exhibit their passion especially those who have it towards safeguarding the entire universe.

Forgotten Dump sites

Garissa town is one of the fastest growing towns here in Kenya and East Africa. Increase in population equally means doubling of waste gener...