On the Sunday of 6th April a good number of our members visited Watoto Wema children’s home in Ruai. This is an initiative that is usually coordinated by the Reach Out Program (ROP) of AYICC-K. ROP is a commitment to support the Watoto Wema Centre, an orphanage with over 56 children (35 of them are boarders) through visits, donations and mentorship.


The world today is facing climatic challenges and the global south is at a higher risk of global warming. The sea water levels are rising and some of the people living in the coast lines will be forced to shift and change their way of life.


The environment has become fundamental in development and the world is meeting again at the United Nation Office in Nairobi for an environmental assembly. The assembly is the part of the Rio+20 outcomes.

July 14, 2017

Africa’s Sustainable Cities – Tree Cover

This Post Was Originally posted on OYGKmag.com

For the past four years, I’ve been talking to my peers; trying to convince them that my career path [in Environment], is more than just planting trees. Well, I’ve come to the realization that most of the work I do revolves around trees. There’s no shame to this truth. Increasing forest cover is part of the country’s sustainable development plan and to quote very intelligent scientists:
“Trees are the greatest and most efficient innovation
in combating climate change”
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of trees in maintaining the stability of our ecosystems. They are catchment areas for rivers, habitats for animals, sources of food and raw materials for our industries such as wood, medicines and most importantly, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
Away from digression, this article is about how African cities can be sustainable.
I am a city dweller. I have lived in Nairobi for the past 20 years, which is 98% of my life, and through most of it I was conscious: Conscious not in being present, rather in being aware of my surroundings and the subtle changes that occur in my habitat. Through the years, I have made an observation – Our estate road would be re-tarmacked, and a few months later, conveniently crumble before the next election cycle. I was intrigued and upon consulting with the estate “Wise-man”, I’d be told that it was in an effort to lure voters. The repair works would symbolize progress that would be cashed in for votes. Politics!
More than half the world’s population live in cities and 6 out of 10 people will be urban dwellers by 2030. This trend is set to put on even more pressure on already stretched out resources: Housing for example, where already 55% of the urban population in Sub- Saharan Africa live in slum-like conditions. Cities in Africa face: Unemployment, congestion, waste management, pollution, inadequate housing, insecurity and water shortages. The big question is how the issues can be solved using sustainable approaches and cater to environmental protection.

Aiming for sustainability

Sustainability is the buzzword for this decade.What does it mean though? – we are expected to utilize our current resources in a way that will not undermine the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Principle 4 of the Rio Declaration provides: “In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.” In order to fully understand how cities can achieve sustainability, we need to evaluate the challenges they face. Thereafter addressing them using practical means rather than aggravate their effects.

Trees… again

Back to the planting of trees, scratch that – growing trees. There’s a difference. Tree planting involves putting a seedling in the ground and watering it in one day. Tree growing is planting the seedling and caring for it until it has established itself. An established seedling has improved chances of survival.
Trees play an important role in urban ecosystems, because they are an effective mitigator to urban carbon emissions. They contribute significantly to the purification of air which is an essential service in an urban setting where air polluting factors are in plenty; from vehicles, industries and even buildings. Indiscriminate deforestation and encroachment of protected areas undermine the 10% annual forest cover goal set by Kenya.

Strategies to encourage tree cover

Tree planting and tree adopting programs
Nationwide tree planting activities and initiating tree adopting programs in schools and institutions will not only engage students in environmental matters but also instill a sense of responsibility to protect the environment.
Indigenous trees
Indigenous trees (for example the Fig tree) are better adapted to the local climates and are more efficient in carbon sequestration. They host a larger array of biodiversity as compared to exotic trees. The leaves of a Mugumo tree have more species of insects such as snails and moths than the leaves of a eucalyptus which has less if any.
Incorporating green spaces into urban planning
It is evident that tree planting and natural regeneration are not enough to counter the declining tree cover in cities. Though that may be the case, if these strategies weren’t in place, the loss of tree cover would be higher. Natural regeneration basically means giving time and letting whatever grows grow. Shrub maintenance is low costing but can lead to establishment of undesired tree species. Furthermore, in growing cities where there are perpetual development pressures, the vegetation doesn’t have the luxury of time to regenerate naturally. Integrated planning should design public spaces to allow for tree growing. Increasing green spaces in urban areas should be an integral part in the development planning of any town.

 Posted by Michael Musyoka
Twitter: @mikesyoka
Email: michaelmusyok@gmail.com

June 26, 2017


Why didn’t you the gods warn us of these disasters when you were well aware of what awaited us? Disasters that have consumed what remains of the potential offerings to appease you. For a long time, we have lived in our land, fed of its soil and drank of its waters. Life has been so good and comfortable that we never dared ask of where the waters came from. Of course we knew you were the custodians of rain. Even the rainmakers were silent when we turned against the very vegetation we were supposed to nurture, always looking to the skies as they chanted prayers whenever the rare droughts and famine hit the land. The once rare droughts that always presented the wrath of the gods have become so frequent and harsh that we are worried whether the gods are just angry or dead all together. Anger fades upon offerings, or so religious logic dictates. But how many more are we going to offer unwillingly as the livestock get consumed by the land and offered to the gods without any consent. What does one do when the only exit is locked from the outside with the house consumed in fire? Should we pray to the same gods who watched while the doors were locked from outside or should we battle the walls until another exit is created. We are at your mercies, the gods lest this generation gets to the history books as an extinct breed. A good punishment is one that leaves you the energy to correct your mistake. We have learnt the lesson for descending on nature for short-lived returns while remaining ignorant of the long-term negative feedback that has now left us hungry with nothing left of our livestock possessions. I offer this prayer on behalf of humankind asking that you leave us the energy to give back what we took from nature. Death stares at us on the face if you fail to intercede to stop this prolonged suffering. Suffering that has left most of us at the mercy of well-wishers who awakens the now inactive salivary glands only to disappear after few hours leaving us with even more suffering. Our children cannot even explain what is happening since they are too young to be exposed to the sins we and our fathers committed. We are not leaving the mountains until we get the answers. PLEASE OPEN THE SKIES AND BRING RAIN, GODS!

Fredrick Ouma / fredrickmbima@gmail.com

June 21, 2017


It was the first time we got it right, at least that is what we thought seventeen years ago when the world came up with a road map to Sustainable Development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were received with mixed reactions depending on your understanding of the process leading to the MDGs or how well you identified with the issues that were to be addressed by the blue print. MDGs were not a dress-rehearsal to another blueprint but the actual play in the theatre whose main objective was to bring the global population above the poverty line. Outlined in eight different goals with specific target, the world was set towards the achievement of economic, social, environmental and political sustainability.
If I am to borrow from one of the Sermons by Bishop TD. Jakes, “Nothing Just Happens,” it did not just occur that the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger was identified as the first goal. Though without any knowledge of what informed the drafters, whether the numbers of every MDG were a mere coincidence or there was a direct correlation with the level of priority, I request to be allowed to subscribe to the latter. A position that is reiterated by the SDGs which still give priority to hunger and food security in SDGs one and two.  Poverty in the developing world has been the major hurdle to economic growth resulting in overreliance on AID from the developed countries. Compounded by the variability of the Climate variability which scientists associate with the effects of Climate Change, the hunger situation is worsening. Statisticians indicate that Africa, which is majorly a developing continent, has one of the fastest growing populations. Logic has it that population will still need social amenities and land to survive, a situation that explicitly explains the continuous subdivision of arable land for settlement. The available land for families is not enough to produce enough food for family consumption with pastoralist also being pushed to the periphery.
Multinational Companies manufacturing seeds and fertilizers have also exploited the farmers by focusing more on the Supply and demand as opposed to the efficiency of recommended technologies in conventional agriculture. As opposed to the indigenous seeds, modified seeds cannot be replanted and only survives under special environmental and soil conditions therefore ensuring the cost of production remains high. Frequent and harsh droughts have plagued the continent of Africa due to the dire impacts of Climate Change, at least according to the scientists. Pastoralists have been forced in Kenya, for, example to walk long distances in search of pasture and water, killing anyone who comes in their way. In Kenya alone, many people in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands have lost their lives and livestock in the past five months alone due banditry by herders looking for pasture. This is higher than any other manmade causes including terrorism over the same period.
So then, what happened to the MDGs? The progress report on the Millennium Development Report in Kenya, published in the year 2016 outlines a number of achievements on the targets which were set for the first MDGs. The report says, “the proportion of people living below the national poverty line in Kenya has been declining albeit at a slow rate since the year 2000 when it stood at 52% to about 46% in 2014.” The report notes that, the slow decline in poverty levels, among other factors, can be attributed to the global impacts of Climate Change fueled by the global warming which has led to the frequent episodes of severe drought.  Despite the challenges, the report has recorded significant achievements in realizing the targets.
So, will the SGDs succeed where the MDGs failed? There is an African proverb that says, “a man who hangs around a beautiful girl without saying a word ends up fetching water for guests at her wedding.” It is an uphill task to claim with certainty that the SDGs will be a smooth sail in their implementation. The sustainable development agenda has been built on the failures of MDGs, with the new goals, a breakdown of the MDGs with focused targets. The momentum is very high with trainings and awareness projected to take a shorter time if the current trends provides a basis for reference. Though an opt-pessimist, realization of the new seventeen SDGs solely depends on how well we embrace the challenges faced with the MDGs and address them in the implementation of the SDGs. The world has presented us with a beautiful girl, more beautiful compared to the MDGs which resulted in a bangled engagement, at least to the extent that we did not achieve all the set targets. Kenya must choose its path, either to be the groom or fetch water when the day of the wedding comes in the year 2030.
It is therefore my take that, the National security in the developing world with Kenya as a case study is and will be heavily impacted by failure to address food insecurity concerns. Just like we always say in Africa, “peace is costly, but it is worth the expense.” We must therefore formulate institutional frameworks; encourage collaborations between governments and all other stakeholders; denounce the donor dependency syndrome by pursuing domestic alternative and innovative financing mechanisms; and encourage involvement of universities and other research institutions. It is only by this approach that we will stand tall and enumerate our achievements when we get to the year 2030. None of us is as smart as all of us, we must work together to achieve more.

Fredrick Ouma / fredrickmbima@gmail.com

March 29, 2017

How African Youth Can Strengthen Accountability in Achieving SDGs

originally posted on OYGK magazine

As a Project Coordinator at the Environmental Club of the University of Nairobi, we were involved in many activities around campus – projects which were and still are, run entirely by proactive students. An NGO approached our club patron and suggested an ‘Environmental Journalism’ project.
Well, the name was ours and we knew that the success of the project would heavily rely on our efforts and so we had to get involved in every phase of developing it. It was a lengthy process – from proposal writing, consultations with the administration, hosting, the day-to-day running of the project, acquiring equipment, looking for partnerships, accounting and monitoring the project. We were the project.
We knew what was working, and what wasn’t. We wrote reports and made recommendations so that the project could benefit even more people. Our hands-on involvement made us stakeholders in it and we ensured that we managed it accordingly. This in turn contributed significantly to making sure that accountability was maintained in the Environmental Journalism Project.
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were drawn up with an objective of achieving Sustainability in all aspects of the world: They have been described as ‘transformative and universal’. As a new agenda which will combine the social, the economic and the environmentally sustainable for global development. The goals,  said to have a multi- dimensional approach to development, resulted in 17 pointers that seek to end poverty, provide basic amenities to a larger population and ensure environmental protection for the benefit of all.
With a total of 167 targets, the success or failure of the SDGs depends on the inclusion of the stakeholders, which happens to be all of us, to see it through. I’m talking about government, NGOs, community elders, women, the youth and special groups. Running a project of my own has helped me realize that inclusion is an effective means to the success of a project.

Now that the goals have been set, how can young people strengthen accountability of the global SDGs?

An in-depth look at the SDGs in order to find out what role the youth are meant to play in Agenda 2030 reveals that youth participation, investment in the youth and the rights of youth, are NOT outrightly addressed in the document.
Naturally then, the question that lingers is – is this development agenda meant for us if we are not in it? Well, there are two ways to look at it: either with a pessimistic glance and assume that we have been completely neglected by it, or with an optimist pair of eyes realizing we are a generation that cannot be defined, simply because we are constantly evolving in our ideas and innovation.
As such, we should participate in all levels of the implementation of the sustainable development goals. We have the energy to be the foot soldiers, engaging people at grassroots level and communicating  with the wider society. We can educate the masses on the relevance of the SDGs, how it affects all of our lives and how we all can be part of it. Initiating community projects using locally available materials in line with the SDGs targets which seek to end poverty and promote better, sustainable livelihoods is also another means which comes to mind. You get it. The general idea is simply getting everybody on board. The importance of public participation in the success of projects cannot be overlooked and as youth, we can deliver it.
Individual countries have also set up National Councils for Sustainable Development  which aim at promoting co-management of accountability platforms which youth can take part in. This could be through regular forums and action-planning meetings to access and give input on social projects. Such means could be the conduit to putting pressure on elected officials to implement the set goals in a manner that is fair and benefits all. Think about official roles for the youth at all levels where participation is progressive and encourages addition of actionable input.

Accountability for Transparency

For accountability to be achieved there needs to be transparency. Government agencies and officials should encourage open dialogue with the citizens (a right enshrined in the constitution). Youth organizations on their part should build the capacity of others so as to engage them in various works of secretariats or parliamentary reviews, and the overall SDG implementation process. Participation in such forums allows the youth to hold leaders accountable by questioning their actions and offering ideas.
In case there is absolutely no space in government for participation, we can take to social development through activism and social movements; holding of peaceful demonstrations and calling leaders out on their ineffective development agendas in public barazas. To effectively hold the government accountable, we need space to participate in policy implementation, monitoring and review.

In conclusion, we need mechanisms to push conversations about young peoples’ role in accountability for the SDGs, beyond rhetoric.  For sure, the role of the youth wasn’t clearly defined when the SDGs were prepared, but that doesn’t mean we do not have a task. We can ask for recognition, we can ask for inclusion, which may or may not be given to us.
One thing is certain; that which is given is easily taken away. Therefore, we must fight to earn our rightful place in the implementation of these goals. The SDGs have a direct impact on our lives – we deserve to be heard and included and it is only when we realize that our collective future is at stake, that we shall rise to defend our rights. Our role has not been defined because we cannot be contained – with our potential and our limitless imagination. In a world of digital integration, we must realize that we are one world and we are in this together. It’s our duty as youth, to ensure there is accountability for the Global Goals to our benefit.

Posted by Michael Musyoka
Twitter: @mikesyoka
Email: michaelmusyok@gmail.com

March 13, 2017

Why we should protect our water sources

1992 was a game changer for Kenya and the rest of the world who signed the Agenda 21 agreement and the Rio principles as it would see for the first time environmental issues being given the importance it deserved. The realization of the millennium development goals adopted in September of 2002 set the target as 10 of goal 7 as half by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitization. On 22nd of March of every year the world marks the World Water Day which is celebrated both locally and internationally.

Kenya happens to be among the enviable when it comes to water quality and diversity. With big shots like the Nile flowing into our Lake Victoria basin, outstanding desert lakes like Lake Turkana supporting the livelihoods of most of our people in the northern regions of Kenya, the numerous hot water springs distributed within the country, the Mara river that catalyzes one on the seven wonders of the world, it is undeniable that Kenya is deserving of jealousy. And this is to mention just but a few.

But our recent waves of activities over the past few years are proving to be detrimental to the well-being of our lakes and rivers. Increased poverty levels have seen the clearing of our forest as a means of generating income to sustain livelihoods which eventually is leading to the slow but sure death of our water bodies. Increased populations in our developing countries have also increased to clearing of our forest particularly the Mau forest for settlement and development which has greatly affected our water towers and has gone to the extent of affecting the people of Kenya together with the wildlife.

2016-2017 was tough period for Kenya. With the ongoing climate change and increased temperatures, the western parts of the country witnessed what they had never seen before. Their dependent streams which they used for domestic purposed seemed to have dried up. There was no difference between the stream beds and the normal usual grounds. This was in addition to the little to no rains that fell during the second growing period that left farmers in these regions with barely any little food to take them through to the next growing season.

From where we stand as a country, we have no other option but to act and to act fast. We need to recognize that this is our country and the situation we are in is as a result of the choices we have made in the past. We need not to seek to place blame but instead we need to claim responsibility for our future if we are to move forward.  The solution does not lie with the government or with foreign aid. The solution lies with you and with me. We need to work hand in hand with each other and with the government to find a lasting solution to our problem. We need to work as a team to curb this upcoming menace amongst us. Whether it is digging dams, planting trees or educating the community on the importance of conserving and protecting our water sources it should be a joint effort.

Article submitted by:
Dolphine Magero