WATOTO WEMA VISIT - 6TH APRIL

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.

AYICC - KENYA RAISES ITS VOICE DURING WED 2014 (WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL DAY) - "RAISE YOUR VOICE, NOT THE SEA LEVEL"

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.

TUNZA GLOBAL YOUTH GATHERING - A PRE UNITED NATION ENVIRONMENTAL ASSEMBLY

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.

September 23, 2017

Trump Pulling Out of Climate Finance and What it Means for Kenya



It was not until the last five years that the menace of climate change sunk deep into the brains of Kenyans. It was not until late last year that Kenya started to put into use the climate finance funding that was being distributed by the likes of World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operative and Development (OECD).
President Trump. Courtesy


For a developing country, we would expect a 100% turnout and aggressiveness for the climate finance money but only a shocking 29% of Kenya's institutions claimed that money: taking a large chunk of the percentage was Makueni County.
 If we isolate the county from other counties we find great disparity that we may say pushed the county to run for this money. Makueni seems to be a county that has experienced hardship in terms of rainfall availability and as a result they had to adapt to their low levels of rainfall conditions therefore ceasing the once in a lifetime opportunity to better their lives. 
Rural folk fetching water at a water pan in Kenya
 Truly necessity is the mother of invention. This stands for community drivenness as United Nations Environment (UNEP) Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator Dr. Richard Munag would put it. But something else also seems to stand out with this county. The governor of this county Kivutha Kibwana upto 2017 was an environmentalist by profession and so we may formulate our theories as what gave this county an upper hand when it came to access of climate fund.
That brings me to wonder what the other 46 counties are doing in terms of climate finance. Is it because they face little to zero hardships that they fail to see the need to grab the opportunity at hand to better themselves or should we place the blame on their leader's lack of environmental enthusiasm? I tend to think areas such as Makueni tend to be better activists of the environment compared to the rest of the country.
When trump suggested pulling out of the climate change agreement, what was Kenya's reaction as a country? What do we stand to gain or lose if the most powerful man on the planet pulls out? While at the national level it becomes close to impossible to do much as devolution has channeled power back to the people at the county level. 
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump
 Are we driven enough as a people to exploit the manna of climate finance at our disposal? Are our leaders at the county level ready to lead us to the right path of climate change mitigation and adaptation? If indeed the idea of climate change has sunk in, will we as a third world country not be contradicting ourselves when we venture into the much protested coal mining in Lamu
Are we any much different from Trump, seeing that we receive climate finance fund with one hand and on the other hand go back home to carry out plans that contradict efforts to mitigate climate change. Are we in support of Trump? Are we going one step forward and two steps backward? Are we fighting for nature?

Forget Lamu for a minute, what about our lake Turkana which happens to be the largest desert lake in the world? By allowing the Ethiopian government to build a dam, are we not killing the sources of livelihoods for 300000 people? If not they why are we not taking the climate finance fund and investing in renewable sources of energy. Then we might as well a have no right to complain when Trump threatens to pull out of the climate change act. Are we turning our backs away from nature? 


Climate change is not just a national agenda but it is an agenda for both you and I.

Climate change is not just a national agenda but it is an agenda for both you and I. We need to stand for nature. As we forge towards nonrenewable sources of energy we risk more damage to our environment. Yes there may be climate finance fund but what happens to Kenya as a country when trump decides to actually pull the plug? We not only face the risk of losing one of the biggest financiers of climate finance but also face the risk of losing other financiers of climate funds. 

Therefore, this may create a shortage for climate finance which means it will not be accessible to all countries. Climate finance will be like jobs in Kenya, rare and hard to come by. Strict guidelines may be imposed before a country actually gets the funding. With our current wave of activities on the country we may fail to qualify for this fund leaving us with no money for climate finance and a degrading environment that we may not be able to bounce back from. 
Trump pulling out of climate change agreement is like making funeral arrangements, and Kenya investing in non-renewable energy sources is like Kenya digging its own grave.

What is The Solution?   
Mine is simple. It seems there is a gap between those who know and those who do not know. In as much as there is hype and has always been hype about going to the conference of parties (I am not against going to COPs) but I feel that in as much as the countries might put out targets to achieve, it might be a bit more realistic to go it the other way round. Yes at the COPs we will have targets, but how sure are we that those particular countries will achieve them. The issue of Trump pulling out could be a wakeup call for the so called rest of the world, Kenya included to COPtisize (COP+ customize) the country.
Instead of having to wait a whole twelve months to go make promises that you may or may not fulfil why not go to the respective counties and hold the COPs meetings there. Get the common man on the ground involved in the COPs. Show them how their activities through the C-ROADS software which strives to calculate to what degree our efforts to mitigate climate change can be able to reduce the global temperatures to two degrees and below by the year 2100. This becomes vital as scientist seem to have proof that any rise of temperatures by even 0.5 degrees can be detrimental. This could lead to our cities submerged in water like the recent case of Miami.
  My solution is to take the issue back to the people at the grassroot level and letting them find a solution rather than getting the climate finance money and expecting them to come up with projects which tend to scare some of them as they perceive such things to be done by scholars while most of them aren't. This in my opinion is the way that the rest of the counties in Kenya can become at par with Makueni county which has done outstanding job when it comes to climate finance. It is because we cannot have every county governor who is well knowledgeable in climate finance issues. We need to customize climate change mitigation to fit the people instead of customizing the people to fit into climate change mitigation.
Boys fetching water at a water pump in Kenya

In does not have to stop there. We could then proceed to hold continental meetings so that Africa can have a better bargaining power when it goes before the rest of the world. We could have like three meetings before we arrive at the COPs to present our issues.

The Article was Submitted by: 

Dolphine Magero

Undergraduate Student: Bachelor of Science (Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Management) 

University of Nairobi  

Email: dolphinedrey@gmail.com

 




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

THE ANGRY GODS


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

FROM MDGS TO SDGS, THE GHOST OF FOOD SECURITY AND IT’S THREAT ON NATIONAL SECURITY


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