May 19, 2012

Rio+20| Time to debunk the half truths

There is need to demystify the long held myth that associates trekking with poverty in the African context and the time is now. Over the years we have been made to believe that affluence is the ultimate measure of ones’ well being. Modesty is regarded as unfashionable.

Non- motorized transport (riding bicycles, walking, skating); a very common scenario in the developed countries especially Denmark, Canada, Netherlands, is not only pollution free but also contributes to ones’ wellness in terms of being fit since it is exercise in itself. Kenya’s case may be a bit different considering the state of our roads and the apparent unwillingness to invest in a reliable railway transport and the pot-holed road network with no lanes for cyclists. It doesn’t however imply that the inopportune trend cannot be reversed.  The relevant authorities should be pushed into action. Non-motorized transport should be our focus in absence of an efficient low carbon transport.

Time has come to frown on materialism, the act of amassing what you don’t need as exemplified by former Philippines’ First Lady Imelda Marcos from our national psyche. At the back of our mind we need to know that we can live a modest and fulfilling life without necessarily accumulating wealth to obscene levels.  As the world leaders focus on Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development, we should ask ourselves, as individuals, what role we would want to play to contribute towards a Green Economy (sustainable, low carbon); the very focus of the conference scheduled to take place in Brazil in June, 2012.

The Kenya’s Vision 2030 will remain just that, a vision, if deliberate steps are not taken to encourage green jobs (which has a potential to solve the unemployment conundrum through these sectors; energy, building, basic industry, transport, food and agriculture, forestry etc).

Let us popularize walking, cycling to and from work, when going to the shopping centre and generally, short distances. You will not only find it leisurely but also rewarding.

I got bus fare from town to my neighbourhood but I choose to walk, who will dare join me and demystify this fallacious mentality in the African context?

Brian Okoth



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