Environmental Network Set to Mark 2nd Anniversary

NAIROBI May 23, 2014 (CISA)

Let us protect mother earth. Let us replenish her health by planting at least one tree per year.

Let us protect mother earth. Let us replenish her health by planting at least one tree per year.

Mother Earth Network (M-e-net), an environmental organization led by the Franciscans Religious Order is set mark two years of existence with a host of activities including tree planting exercise on Friday May 30 at Portiuncula centre, Langa’ta in Nairobi.

“We will have expertise presentations on M-e-net progress and experiences and emerging issues in conservation. The workshop will also see the presentation and official launch of M-e-nets’ Certificate of Registration,” said Fr Herman Borg, M-e-net patron.

Fr Borg added that the network will further use the opportunity to thank its partners, stakeholders, well-wishers, friends and supporters who have stayed with them to date.

Early this year, the network got recognition from the government of Kenya that granted it a legal status as a Trust registered in Kenya under the Ministry of Lands.

According to M-e-net official launch concept paper, from its inception, M-e-net has been undertaking tree-planting and conservation activities in Nairobi, Machakos, Nakuru, Kajiado, Kiambu Nyeri and Malindi counties aimed at contributing to the national tree cover target of 10 percent.

Mother Earth Network has been in existence for two years. Since its formation, great steps have been taken and measures put in place to guide its strategies. Amongst its achievements are tree planting initiatives targeting schools, churches and urban slums; capacity building and awareness and sensitization through key environmental days such as 4th October marked by faith groups every year.


Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu

Virginia Ngina Kisavi


Kiambiu Slum  is located near Moi Air Force Base Eastleigh South location. The place is inhabited by several Kenyan tribes. These tribes are a source of diversity bringing about a mixture of different cultures and values. At times too, spots of tension could be felt amongst them.

Sometimes back 2000 there were strong tribal sentiments among the residents of Kiambiu. These sentiments were especially strong among the Kikuyu who were the land owners and the Luos who were tenants. The people were therefore divided and could not associate positively, work or stay together. It even became difficult for Landlords to rent their houses to members of a tribe they did not have any positive regard towards preferring loosing rental income. This meant that no Kikuyu would rent a Luo his/her house.

After post election violence in 2007, some NGOs started civic education to improve the community trust levels, community members were empowered with skills which could help them come together. Self help groups were hence formed with the aim of promoting healing and generating income through “merry go rounds”. These small acts of healing helped in cementing relationships among different tribes and in time they started relating well with each other.

Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu was formed as the aftermath of all the associative and cooperation activities. It included several self help groups who came together with the ideas of forming an umbrella organization in the Kiambiu community. Implementing the idea initially was a challenge as people still mistrusted each other. The mistrust extended to the governance structures of the new collaborative endeavor. During organizational committee elections; every group fronted an official as they felt that if they did not do so, their interests would not be effectively represented. This mistrust was quite a challenge nearly bringing the governance process of the new initiative to a standstill and threatened its existence.

The initiative was able to address the so called teething problems of “mistrust”. It in time developed clear objectives and a set of activities. The group started to clean drainages every Saturday, collecting garbage. At the end of the activity each member to contribute 20 shillings for banking. These activities in the long run cemented the relationship amongst the residents of Kiambiu and they started talking about their common problem. Everyone agreed that there was a great need for a toilet in Kiambiu. Once this need was identified, the next step was to look for a site to put up the toilet. A member from the group decided to sell his plot to enable the toilet project to proceed. Once a site was found members went on with their usual contribution meanwhile officials searched for sponsors to help in the construction of the latrine. They later found a sponsor.

After one and a half month the toilet was complete and ready for use by the Kiambiu residents. This gave Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu job opportunities like fetching some water for the construction, , transporting the materials from the security base to the working area, digging of the sewer line to connect the main one and also guarding the building. During the time of use also the youth got employed as toilet attendants.

The new toilet project has changed the condition of Kiambiu which was  uncouth when there was no toilet. You could find flying toilets all over the streets and even along the houses. People never knew the importance of unity and cooperation but for now we have strong groups in Kiambiu. Three other toilets serving the community which are affordable by the residents with adults paying 3/= while children enjoy the services freely. The new toilets created new jobs. Apart from the toilets, members started other activities  which generate money for the group. This has developed Kiambiu as a slum with 220 members hence recruiting many more members every year regardless of ethnic groups. They get dividends every year and monthly allowance.

The story of Muungano wa Wanakiambiu is a story of Social Innovation. Social innovation occurs in situations where people think of developing simple solutions to community problems. The endervor started to unite the Kiambiu Residents not only achieved its aim but has also contributed immensely to improving their living conditions. There is a great need for integration of Kenyans not only in Kiambiu but in the entire country. The fact that there is prejudice makes us not being able to address our development needs.

A process of deliberate integration could lead us to  experience a change in social relations especially with regard to influencing the governance while increasing participation in social political process. This happens because the once excluded person feels that he or she has been integrated in the societal structures that alienated him or her in the past.

Decreasing social exclusion has many positive outcomes such as increasing integration independence and participation in various dimensions of life that helps people like their life respectively.


Create a great Kenya: Plant at least one tree per year

I always think about the praying-mantis. All the hopes of survival for the beautiful and ever playful praying-mantis will be dashed with continued de-afforestation. Eventually these wonderful organisms will wiped out. What a pitty!!!


Article by Akoya Ochanda

All of us should come together to and participate in populating the world with many trees. Trees are very important in our lives today and their scarcity causes a real danger to the environment and to the survival of species including the human species. This is the essence of the carbon trade campaign. If we each planted one tree per year, we could do so much good to our environment by reducing the carbon footprint. Hence please create the opportunity and plant just one tree before the end of this year and at least one tree in all the coming years.

Every living organism depends on trees for survival. Trees and plants provide shelter and livelihood to a many of these organisms like birds, butterflies, bees, praying mantis to name just a few.  Wild animals depend on trees for their hideouts. If  deafforestation continues  imagine the danger caused to the survival of these important species. They will be  scattered all over, they will also be very insecure and not to add on the inconviniences they might cause.

Trees prevents soil erosion to our environment. They act as ground covers. They prevent rain water to carry away the top soil hence holding the upper fertile soil therefore making sure that our soils are ever fertile thus high yield.

Most of the industries depends on tree products to produce their goods. Fruits are processed to produce juices that are enjoyed by everyone while other tree parts are processed into papers and many other things. This also means that trees contribute directly to job creation and betterment of human lives.

Not everything is mentioned here but i encourage you guys who might happen to read this, should find more articles and see why we should put much consideration in tree planting. My advice: we should value trees very much if we value our lives tomorrow.

KENYA: Tree Planting Campaign Launched

NAIROBI, September 25, 2012 (CISA ) –The Mother Earth Network tree planting campaign was started on Saturday September 22 at the sprawling Mukuru Kwa Reuben slums in east of Nairobi. Kwa Reuben is one of the 12 villages that form Mukuru slum.

It was done in collaboration with the Reuben Youth Foundation. “We deal with environment matters, HIV and AIDS, drugs among the youths and sports. We want to create a good environment in our slums and all the villages in Mukuru: we want it to be an example to others.

Environment depends on us and we should take care of it for our benefit and that of future generations and strive to make where we live habitable,” says Timothy Kilaka an official at the foundation.

The campaign started at Word Wide Hope Centre then proceeded to all the schools in the village, in several worship centres and at the local police post. In the coming days the campaign will move to the remaining villages before going national.

The exercise involved the slum dwellers led by school going children from schools located in the slum. Over 400 trees were planted. Others present were Mr Aggrey Kere in charge of mobilization at Sustainable National Environmental Programme, Prosper Karagizi from Tangaza College, the Reuben Youth Foundation and Utalii college students.

The patron of Mother Earth Network  Hermann Borg thanked all those who participated  in the exercise and urged then to take care of the trees that they planted by watering them and protecting them from animals especially goats that roam the streets freely.

“This is just the beginning, we hope to plant as many trees as possible and improve the environment tremendously. Everyone should be involved for all stand to benefit if we have a good environment,” said  Borg.
Mother Earth Network is a faith based organization concentrating on the environment.


Pay a tribute to Prof. Wangari Maathai by planting a tree

In memory of Wangari Maathai


Mike Mungai

A tree; A plant beneficial in many ways but most are the times that only a few of us bother to think of the particular benefits. Prof Wangari once remarked, “It’s really amazing. You plant a seed; it germinates and looking so fragile, and within a very short time it becomes a huge tree. It gives you shade and if it’s a fruit tree it gives you fruit.” In times that we travel to “ushago” many see the avocados and mangoes and actually forget to look at the tree, only noticing it’s absence and of course that of fruits, only when it has long been cut down. The more trees are cut down either for firewood or simply because we want to expand our houses or initiate a poultry project, that is another source of fruit terminated. Next time you go to the market and find that the prices of these fruits are high or experience scarcity of particular fruits, do not complain since you played a role in the price hike.

As above stated, apart from providing fruits there are nitrogen fixing trees, trees that improve the fertility. Nitrogen is an element so necessary for the proper growth and development of crops. As such, some trees are natural fertilizers, which could be of great economic importance in areas where soils have lost their fertility. Trees also act as wind barriers; they reduce the impact of strong winds on crops and buildings. Felling down of trees not only keeps crops and buildings exposed to strong elements of weather which may in the long run lead to retarded crop growth and weak buildings. Apart from increased soil fertility, the amounts that would have been used to purchase fertilizers can be put to other uses by farmers.

A group of trees also function as water catchments. When hundreds of trees lose water daily through transpiration to the atmosphere, the water vapor rises accumulates and condenses to form clouds which result in rainfall. The importance of rainfall water for our economy is great considering the fact that as an agricultural dependent economy we also rely much on rainfall fed agriculture rather than irrigation. Rainfall water in rivers is used for hydroelectricity production, for consumption and rivers provide shelter for fish. Cutting down of trees for whatever purpose is detrimental to the constant supply of rainfall which leads to adverse effects on agricultural and energy production. It also leads to pipe water shortages or rationing.

Trees consume Carbon Dioxide, a green house gas that causes global warming from the atmosphere and gives out Oxygen a vital gas for the survival of human beings and animals. Global warming leads to; adverse climate changes such as increased or decreased amounts of rainfall, very warm summers or very cold winters, melting of glaciers and consequential rising of sea and ocean levels. Desertification, the spread of deserts also occurs due to increased temperatures and decreased vegetation covers amongst other factors. It is said that the Sahara Desert expands at a rate of 48 kilometers every year. Pretty soon it will be knocking at our doors. Prof Wangari’s advice in addressing the desertification issue was, “We want to see many Africans planting trees. There is absolutely no excuse to stop desertification because this is something that is doable and cheap.”

Every once in a while it is possible to see individuals taking a rest under trees. Trees provide shades from sun radiation. Years ago, I recall that Wazee’s baraza used to be held under the shade of trees, and to really understand the importance of these shades, imagine Uhuru Park or City Park without trees.

Trees provide much needed shelter for different types of animals and birds. It cannot go without mentioning the economic importance of these particular animals to the much needed income from tourists who come to see the different bird and butterfly species among other animals. The resulting effects of tourism is the many jobs created in the hospitality industry. Accordingly, tourism is the third largest contributor to the gross domestic product of Kenya.

When it comes to property ownership especially real estate, it is much more expensive to purchase a piece of land or a house in areas where there are trees as compared to those that lack trees. Most of us study, find employment and make a lot of saving so that one day we can purchase land or a place to stay in the posh neighborhoods’ of Lavington, Kilimani, Karen, Runda, Kitisuru to mention just a few. Why not save for a piece of land or a house in areas with little or no tree cover? The answer is simple, the trees add aesthetic value to the surroundings and many times where there are trees, there is beauty and there is fresh air.

The above are just some of the benefits of trees to the world – the environment, economy and to us. Sadly we never put into consideration some of these benefits before we encroach and settle in forests, before we cut down every tree that we see before us for either charcoal production, firewood or so that we can use the wood to construct houses, make sculptures or furniture.

We should all engage in afforestation and reforestation programs. Planting trees where none exist and where others had been felled. We should also strive to plant a tree whenever we cut down one. As we commemorate an year since the passing of Prof Wangari Maathai, let us take it unto ourselves to engage in environmental conservation initiatives. There is a lot to be done when it comes to the environment, it can be done but what matters is are we ready to do it? Are we ready to participate in cleanup activities? Are we ready to engage in recycling processes, especially that of paper bags? Are we ready to participate in proper waste/garbage management practices?

The environmental challenge and responsibility is up to us; to act negatively, remain as bystanders or act constructively. However, we should remember that if only we could act like the hummingbird in Prof Wangaris’ fable, we could achieve a lot, collectively!

More Oil Found in Kenya

The aerial image of Turkana desolate and remote. It is hoped that the discovery of this resource will be a blessing for the region and there shall not be any repeat of the Niger Delta situation.

In announcing about the oil in Kenya the Prime Minister Raila Oginga said

“What [Tullow Oil and Its partner Africa Oil] have found in Kenya today is better than what they have found elsewhere in continent of Africa including Ghana and Uganda in terms of the depth. ”

A month a go Tullow Oil had striked Oil in Ngamia One at a depth of 1041 metres. The oil well was deepened to 1515 meters and   good quality oil bearing reservoirs zones were still encountered. This discovery has motivated Tullow Oil and Africa Oil to continue drilling up to a depth of 2700 meters and later the drillers will move the rig  31 kilometres further to the Tullow Operated Block 13T, to Twiga-1 (formerly known as Mbango-A) where the drilling activities will continue in the second half of 2012.  A further rig is being sourced to drill the Tullow Operated Block 10A Paipai prospect in Marsabit County.

In addressing the journalists the Minister for Energy Kiraitu Murungi said that “Kenya will strive to implement the international best practice by instituting best legal and institutional arrangements for oil exploration and production in the country (Kenya).”

The ministry of energy plans to bring together 200 opinion leaders from the Turkana county to discuss about the new resource and ensure that it becomes a blessing for both Turkana and Kenya. In the words of Kiraitu Murungi “those who think that there is going to be a Niger Delta in Kenya are mistaken. We believe that what is called Africa’s oil curse will not replicate itself in Kenya and hence there will be no oil curse in the country”

Many analysts argue that the oil discovery places Kenya in a better place to speed up its development prospects.  The government also plans to use this resource to speed up the attainment of the vision 2030.

All eyes at the moment are on how the government will manage this new resource in the country. While on the one hand there could be the “Africa oil curse” on the other hand there is the Dutch disease which is a concept  that explains the apparent relationship between the increase in exploitation of a natural resource at the expense of other sectors of the economy.  The mechanism is that an increase in revenues from natural resources (or inflows of foreign aid) will make a given nation’s currency stronger compared to that of other nations resulting in the nation’s other exports becoming more expensive for other countries to buy, making the manufacturing sector less competitive.

According to Daily Nation, the dutch disease is not fatal, and it can be prevented. This requires a mix of industrial, labour market, trade and exchange rate policies that enhance the country’s competitiveness in the non-commodity sector, for example in lowering taxes on labour. More worryingly, the sudden wealth that comes from natural resources can erode the quality of institutions. Politicians may be less pressured to undertake needed reforms and the windfall revenue may be spent on “white elephants” (non-productive prestige projects) or large transfer schemes that end up benefitting the political elite. Many talented individuals on the other hand will be tempted to seek rents rather than engage in productive activities and corruption can increase.

Kenya therefore has a triple task at the moment that it does not sink into the resource curse problem on one hand and on the other it does not sink into the Dutch disease as a result of a sudden inflow of enormous inflows of foreign currency and lastly that its institutions do not deteriorate as a result. It is important that the country avoids too much dependence on this resource forgetting to develop its other sectors such as the service sector, agriculture and other manufacturing sectors. But most important the government should invest first and foremost in the most basic needs of the country such as water, health and education of its citizens. All efforts must be made to avoid wastage in white elephants and ensure that all investments are of benefit to the people of Kenya.  It is also important to invest a significant proportion of the revenue in the  Turkana County and other poorest counties in the country.

Kenya Discovers Oil

More on this here and here and here and here and here

Turkana is one of the poorest regions in Kenya. Its people have suffered attacks from neighboring hostile communities, famine, sickness and have been literary left behind in all the development endervors of the country. In a metaphorical way the cartoon by Gado above asks the government a very crucial question.

There is excitement in Kenya as Tullow Oil a British firm strikes Oil in Turkana County. The Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announced the news on Monday the 26th March 2012. This weekend, Tullow Oil which has been prospecting for oil in block 10BB in Turkana county discovered oil in Ngamia One well at a depth of between 846 and 1041 metres. They have established over 20 metres of what is technically refered to as oil pay. … This is the first time Kenya has made such a discovery.

The Ngamia site. Photo: East African Standard

The Kenyan Minister for Energy Mr. Kiraitu Murungi in confirming the president’s announcement said

It is true that Oil has been discovered. We now need to work to establish how much oil is present. The work to put in place proper structures for extraction and selling of the oil will take about three years. Hence we ask Kenyans not to be apprehensive but be patient so as this work may be done well. This discovery is a blessing to the county of Turkana and the entire country as a whole.

In an era of rising petroleum prices, African oil has been drawing new interest from major companies around the globe. Its oil is considered to be of high and relatively inexpensive to refine. But most Africans are seeing little benefit from this influx of oil drillers and investment. In fact, because of an economic paradox known as the “Resource Curse,” they are often hurt by exports of their countries’ oil. “Between 1970 and 1993, countries without oil saw their economies grow four times faster than those of countries with oil.”

With this discovery Kenya should avoid dependency on this resource and instead adopt the approach of Norway whose oil sector has not been made to drive the economy. Hence Kenya should use this resource to continue fueling their enterprise, education and other important areas of the economy. On the other hand there are other concerns such as the costs and benefits of this discovery and how the  income the government gets from this resource will be spent first for the benefits of Turkana county and the entire country as a whole; projects of this nature are also known to have serious environmental problems; hence these considerations should be taken into place before serious commencement of the project.

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