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  • 13 Feb 2017
    Every week we go to the market to buy groceries and this past week was no different. We mostly almost know what we are buying because frankly the choices are quite limited. One of my favourite things to do is picking cauliflower because of its colour and the contrast it gives in the sea of green and red vegetables. However, I could not make up my mind this week. The cauliflowers looked unhealthy and they had started yellowing and none appealed to me. I remember standing there and not wanting to make a choice and Diana insisting that her hands were full (how this related to making a choice is beyond me but I digress) and I needed to make up my mind. I did finally make a choice of 2 but I was not pleased with what we took home. I am almost sure other customers experienced my dilemma because according to a research done by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) food at the retail level is mostly bought because it looks good. That which does not appeal to the customers is left to rot or pulled off the shelves. It is no wonder then that a third of the food produced in the world goes to waste post harvest translating to 1.3 billion tons of food every year (FAO, 2011). A quarter of this wasted food could be used to feed approximately 900 million of the world hungry. This wastefulness does not begin at the retail or consumer level but starts with the farmer sorting, storing and transporting their produce. Research shows that farmers in developing countries lose as much as 15% of their income to post-harvest loss. The impact extends to water resources with around 25% of global fresh water and a fifth of farm land being used to grow crops that are never eaten.  These figures are staggering considering most of these wastage can be easily corrected through attitude and behavior change. Another solution lies in governments providing a suitable environment for innovations on ways to conserve food for longer periods and regulating market standards. Every time I have been to the market I have always noticed vegetables going bad and by now Diana considers my voiced concern as a rhetorical question. Unfortunately, this is not an issue that is unique to Algeria but something I have witnessed in the different countries I have visited as I am sure most of you would attest. It always baffles me that so much food goes to waste and is pulled down the shelves for disposal while we have so many people starving in our societies. France however is working towards changing this status quo through the introduction of legislation that requires retailers to donate unsold food or face a fine of 4,230 dollars. Other European countries like Germany, Britain and Denmark have also made strides in the reduction of food wastage. In Cologne for instance a “waste supermarket” was opened at the beginning of the month where only salvaged food is sold and consumers determine the price of the products. The owner of the store in an interview with DW confessed her aim was not so much as her selling food that would otherwise be considered waste but to stimulate a conversation on how much food the Germans waste and promote behavior change. On the other side of the globe the Kenyan president declared drought as a national disaster with the Kenya Red Cross estimating that 2.7 million people are facing starvation. It saddens me that we continue to lose lives and livestock because we cannot feed our population. The  more I think about it the more I become disgusted at our society that is so profit driven that you would rather have produce rot at the shelves or farms than donate it to the needy and at our government for failing to act in a timely manner. If we are to achieve the sustainable development goal 2 on Zero hunger by 2030 we not only need to promote sustainable agricultural practices but consumption habits as well. The governments need to come up with penalties to discourage retail wastage and drive awareness campaigns to change the way consumers view food and the consequences of food wastage for the rest of the population and the ecosystem.   Useful Links http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e.pdf http://www.dw.com/en/france-battles-food-waste-by-law/a-19148931 http://www.dw.com/en/first-german-supermarket-sells-waste-food-only/a-37426777
    505 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Every week we go to the market to buy groceries and this past week was no different. We mostly almost know what we are buying because frankly the choices are quite limited. One of my favourite things to do is picking cauliflower because of its colour and the contrast it gives in the sea of green and red vegetables. However, I could not make up my mind this week. The cauliflowers looked unhealthy and they had started yellowing and none appealed to me. I remember standing there and not wanting to make a choice and Diana insisting that her hands were full (how this related to making a choice is beyond me but I digress) and I needed to make up my mind. I did finally make a choice of 2 but I was not pleased with what we took home. I am almost sure other customers experienced my dilemma because according to a research done by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) food at the retail level is mostly bought because it looks good. That which does not appeal to the customers is left to rot or pulled off the shelves. It is no wonder then that a third of the food produced in the world goes to waste post harvest translating to 1.3 billion tons of food every year (FAO, 2011). A quarter of this wasted food could be used to feed approximately 900 million of the world hungry. This wastefulness does not begin at the retail or consumer level but starts with the farmer sorting, storing and transporting their produce. Research shows that farmers in developing countries lose as much as 15% of their income to post-harvest loss. The impact extends to water resources with around 25% of global fresh water and a fifth of farm land being used to grow crops that are never eaten.  These figures are staggering considering most of these wastage can be easily corrected through attitude and behavior change. Another solution lies in governments providing a suitable environment for innovations on ways to conserve food for longer periods and regulating market standards. Every time I have been to the market I have always noticed vegetables going bad and by now Diana considers my voiced concern as a rhetorical question. Unfortunately, this is not an issue that is unique to Algeria but something I have witnessed in the different countries I have visited as I am sure most of you would attest. It always baffles me that so much food goes to waste and is pulled down the shelves for disposal while we have so many people starving in our societies. France however is working towards changing this status quo through the introduction of legislation that requires retailers to donate unsold food or face a fine of 4,230 dollars. Other European countries like Germany, Britain and Denmark have also made strides in the reduction of food wastage. In Cologne for instance a “waste supermarket” was opened at the beginning of the month where only salvaged food is sold and consumers determine the price of the products. The owner of the store in an interview with DW confessed her aim was not so much as her selling food that would otherwise be considered waste but to stimulate a conversation on how much food the Germans waste and promote behavior change. On the other side of the globe the Kenyan president declared drought as a national disaster with the Kenya Red Cross estimating that 2.7 million people are facing starvation. It saddens me that we continue to lose lives and livestock because we cannot feed our population. The  more I think about it the more I become disgusted at our society that is so profit driven that you would rather have produce rot at the shelves or farms than donate it to the needy and at our government for failing to act in a timely manner. If we are to achieve the sustainable development goal 2 on Zero hunger by 2030 we not only need to promote sustainable agricultural practices but consumption habits as well. The governments need to come up with penalties to discourage retail wastage and drive awareness campaigns to change the way consumers view food and the consequences of food wastage for the rest of the population and the ecosystem.   Useful Links http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e.pdf http://www.dw.com/en/france-battles-food-waste-by-law/a-19148931 http://www.dw.com/en/first-german-supermarket-sells-waste-food-only/a-37426777
    Feb 13, 2017 505
  • 06 Feb 2017
    Last year we all took a module in African history and it was very enlightening and bore very lively discussions ranging from pre and post colonial Africa. Our professor was German which made most of us wonder if there was no African professor available to tell the African story. However, those hang ups were quickly forgotten and I can honestly say it was one of my best classes by far. Among the class assignments was group discussions and my colleagues and I were to discuss the politics of autochthony. Now, do not get lost in the jargon that is the word autochthony. It simply means the right to belong. According to Geschiere, 2009 autochthony seeks to establish an irrefutable primordial right to belong and is a tactic used by mostly politicians to exclude outsiders. The term was introduced to Africa by the French in the 1900’s in an effort to gain control over different groups and communities. They were therefore able to use it as a divide and rule tactic between the communities that confronted them in the territories they conquered. In recent past the politics of belonging have been used by authoritarian regimes to divide the opposition and neutralize the effects of multi-parties in the continent. Its manifestation is demonstrated through high levels of intolerance and hostility towards “strangers” who are seen as a threat or competition in access to limited resources. The xenophobia cases in South Africa are a perfect example where the fear is manifested among the lower level workers and the wealthy groups. Cases in xenophobic violence escalated rapidly after the end of the apartheid regime despite the anti-discrimination passages in the post apartheid regime which tried to introduce the idea of multi culturalism and nationalism. Sadly, the xenophobic flare ups continue to happen so often in South Africa leading to loss of lives and property for those who are considered as outsiders. After Henri Konan took office in Cote d’ivoire in 1993 he began to question the citizenship of individuals from the North. During this period citizens became “foreigners” if they did not have one parent who was born in Cote d’ivoire. By 1998 the law prohibited the “foreigners” from owning land, voting or running for public office. His predecessor General Robert Guei continued the xenophobic policies that targeted the northern Muslim minority. They were subjected to large scale human rights violation, rape, killings and discriminated against based on the way they dressed. Sadly, South Africa and Cote d’ivoire are not unique cases and the politics of belonging have been demonstrated across the continent for instance with the Nubians in Kenya and Bamileke in Cameroon to mention just a few. Curiously, the Greek meaning for autochthony means “springing from the land” which would explain why it’s politics is tied to land and the soil in the African context. The final ritual in the politics of autochthony is the burial where the dead have to be buried in their ancestral home. We may however feel far removed from these cases and yet we continue to drive the trend unknowingly. In my country, there is a popular phrase that politicians like to use whenever they are held accountable for  abuse of office. “My people are being attacked” is used to evade accountability for abuse of office and misuse of public funds. Yet this tactic continues to work in favour of the politicians by dividing the country in regions and along tribal lines. In conclusion, the politics of autochthony continue to divide the continent along tribal lines. We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated and we continue to isolate people based on religion, tribe, clans and their country of origin. Yet what value does it add to us? We miss the opportunity to learn from other cultures and find a middle ground to work together for social and economic development and well being. The vacuum left is what the politicians have filled with the politics of belonging and we continue to buy into the ideology.      References Legum, C. & Mmari G.R.V. (1995). Mwalimu: the influence of Nyerere Geschiere, P. (2009). The perils of belonging: Autochthony, citizenship, and exclusion in Africa and Europe. University of Chicago Press Jennings, M., & Mercer, C. (2011). Rehabilitating nationalisms: conviviality and national consciousness in postcolonial Tanzania. Politique Africaine, 121, 87-106. Saha, Santosh C. The politics of ethnicity and national identity. Peter Lang, 2007.
    409 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Last year we all took a module in African history and it was very enlightening and bore very lively discussions ranging from pre and post colonial Africa. Our professor was German which made most of us wonder if there was no African professor available to tell the African story. However, those hang ups were quickly forgotten and I can honestly say it was one of my best classes by far. Among the class assignments was group discussions and my colleagues and I were to discuss the politics of autochthony. Now, do not get lost in the jargon that is the word autochthony. It simply means the right to belong. According to Geschiere, 2009 autochthony seeks to establish an irrefutable primordial right to belong and is a tactic used by mostly politicians to exclude outsiders. The term was introduced to Africa by the French in the 1900’s in an effort to gain control over different groups and communities. They were therefore able to use it as a divide and rule tactic between the communities that confronted them in the territories they conquered. In recent past the politics of belonging have been used by authoritarian regimes to divide the opposition and neutralize the effects of multi-parties in the continent. Its manifestation is demonstrated through high levels of intolerance and hostility towards “strangers” who are seen as a threat or competition in access to limited resources. The xenophobia cases in South Africa are a perfect example where the fear is manifested among the lower level workers and the wealthy groups. Cases in xenophobic violence escalated rapidly after the end of the apartheid regime despite the anti-discrimination passages in the post apartheid regime which tried to introduce the idea of multi culturalism and nationalism. Sadly, the xenophobic flare ups continue to happen so often in South Africa leading to loss of lives and property for those who are considered as outsiders. After Henri Konan took office in Cote d’ivoire in 1993 he began to question the citizenship of individuals from the North. During this period citizens became “foreigners” if they did not have one parent who was born in Cote d’ivoire. By 1998 the law prohibited the “foreigners” from owning land, voting or running for public office. His predecessor General Robert Guei continued the xenophobic policies that targeted the northern Muslim minority. They were subjected to large scale human rights violation, rape, killings and discriminated against based on the way they dressed. Sadly, South Africa and Cote d’ivoire are not unique cases and the politics of belonging have been demonstrated across the continent for instance with the Nubians in Kenya and Bamileke in Cameroon to mention just a few. Curiously, the Greek meaning for autochthony means “springing from the land” which would explain why it’s politics is tied to land and the soil in the African context. The final ritual in the politics of autochthony is the burial where the dead have to be buried in their ancestral home. We may however feel far removed from these cases and yet we continue to drive the trend unknowingly. In my country, there is a popular phrase that politicians like to use whenever they are held accountable for  abuse of office. “My people are being attacked” is used to evade accountability for abuse of office and misuse of public funds. Yet this tactic continues to work in favour of the politicians by dividing the country in regions and along tribal lines. In conclusion, the politics of autochthony continue to divide the continent along tribal lines. We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated and we continue to isolate people based on religion, tribe, clans and their country of origin. Yet what value does it add to us? We miss the opportunity to learn from other cultures and find a middle ground to work together for social and economic development and well being. The vacuum left is what the politicians have filled with the politics of belonging and we continue to buy into the ideology.      References Legum, C. & Mmari G.R.V. (1995). Mwalimu: the influence of Nyerere Geschiere, P. (2009). The perils of belonging: Autochthony, citizenship, and exclusion in Africa and Europe. University of Chicago Press Jennings, M., & Mercer, C. (2011). Rehabilitating nationalisms: conviviality and national consciousness in postcolonial Tanzania. Politique Africaine, 121, 87-106. Saha, Santosh C. The politics of ethnicity and national identity. Peter Lang, 2007.
    Feb 06, 2017 409
  • 30 Jan 2017
    I am currently taking a unit on flood and drought management and it is interesting to say the least but that is a story for another day. However, this module hits home for me because Kenya is currently going through a very dry season. The water reservoirs and hydro-dams are running below half capacity and those that live in the arid and semi-arid lands are in dire need of food relief. Their livestock which is their sole source of livelihood has not been spared either and the owners have to walk for long distances in search of water and pasture. What shocks me even more is that the country is hoping that the expected long rains in April will solve this crisis. I am always left wondering why we have a meteorological department when occurrences like drought and flood seem to catch us unprepared every single year. Kenya is prone to frequent drought occurrences especially in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) that cover 80% of its territory. The ASALs are home to an estimated 11 million people and 70% of the national livestock herd. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Strategic plan 2013-2017, livestock keeping accounts for approximately 90% of the employment opportunities and nearly 95% of family incomes in the ASALs. In these areas the annual rainfall is in the range of 200 to 500mm and experience frequent droughts and heat waves (Kandji, 2006). Livestock exposure to heat waves increases their vulnerability to diseases directly affecting their reproductive health and meat and milk production which the ASALs communities heavily rely on for food and income (FAO, 2016).The further vulnerability of Kenya to climate change and temperature projections suggesting a rise of 2.5°C between 2000 to 2050 present these communities with the challenge of ensuring food security, access to water and dealing with livestock diseases. The above challenges call for the development of effective adaptation strategies to minimize the effect of climate change and variability on the livelihoods of the people living in ASALs (Bobadoye A.O, 2016). The current approaches and strategies need to be changed in order to build resilience and adaptation capacity among the affected communities (Bobadoye A.O, 2016; Nicholas Ozor, 2011). These communities will be required to embrace new skills and attitudes through knowledge transfer and capacity building a role that can be effectively filled by extension agents (Nicholas Ozor, 2011). Extension agents have influence towards the decisions made by farmers and pastoralists and they therefore play a very important role in the interpretation of climate change and variability research and providing information on adaptation measures necessary to the affected communities (Bobadoye A.O, 2016; Emily Susko, 2013). Adaptation to the impacts of climate change and variability is crucial in protecting the livelihoods and in ensuring food security among the pastoralist communities (Dagmawi M. Abegaz, 2014). There is some acknowledgement by the government on the important role of extension agencies in the agricultural sector. However the livestock subsector only has 20% of the required staff quota making service delivery difficult. All these factors have created a gap in knowledge transfer and capacity development leading to dire consequences. It has not only posed a threat to food security but also presented a new set of challenges in accessing animal feed, water, exposing the livestock to diseases and heat stress and to the general economy with livestock estimated to contribute 5.5% of the country’s GDP (Ministry of Agriculture, 2015). According to the (ILRI, 2015) Corporate Report 2014-2015, Kenya lost USD 3.3 billon in the livestock sector due to drought between 2008 and 2011. As a result pastoralists continue to be pushed deep in poverty due to livestock losses which are their main source of livelihood. In conclusion the changes in climate call for the adoption of new attitudes and practices to increase the level of preparedness among pastoralists to extreme conditions like drought. The extension agencies should fulfill their mandate to carry out public education and provide information to pastoralists and promote resilience and collaboration between different stakeholders in addressing different challenges among them, climate change (Nicholas Ozor, 2011). Failure to which the ASALS will forever be condemned to receiving hand outs for decades to come.      References  Bobadoye A.O, P. O. ( 2016). Pastoralist Perception on Climate Change and Variability in Kajiado in Relation to Meteorology Evidence. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Vol 5 No 1 . Dagmawi M. Abegaz, P. W. (2014). Extension Agents' Awareness of Climate Change in Ethiopia. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension , DOI: 10.1080/1389224X.2014.946936. Emily Susko, M. S. (2013). Role of Extension in climate Adaptation in the United States. Silver Spring, Maryland. FAO. (2016). THE STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE; CLIMATE CHANGE,AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY. Rome. ILRI. (2015). Corporate Report 2014-2015. Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute. Kandji, S. T. (2006). Drought in Kenya: climatic, economic and socio-political factors. New Standpoints , 17-19. Ministry of Agriculture, L. a. (2015). Strategic Plan 2013-2017. Nairobi: Government of Kenya.
    417 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I am currently taking a unit on flood and drought management and it is interesting to say the least but that is a story for another day. However, this module hits home for me because Kenya is currently going through a very dry season. The water reservoirs and hydro-dams are running below half capacity and those that live in the arid and semi-arid lands are in dire need of food relief. Their livestock which is their sole source of livelihood has not been spared either and the owners have to walk for long distances in search of water and pasture. What shocks me even more is that the country is hoping that the expected long rains in April will solve this crisis. I am always left wondering why we have a meteorological department when occurrences like drought and flood seem to catch us unprepared every single year. Kenya is prone to frequent drought occurrences especially in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) that cover 80% of its territory. The ASALs are home to an estimated 11 million people and 70% of the national livestock herd. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Strategic plan 2013-2017, livestock keeping accounts for approximately 90% of the employment opportunities and nearly 95% of family incomes in the ASALs. In these areas the annual rainfall is in the range of 200 to 500mm and experience frequent droughts and heat waves (Kandji, 2006). Livestock exposure to heat waves increases their vulnerability to diseases directly affecting their reproductive health and meat and milk production which the ASALs communities heavily rely on for food and income (FAO, 2016).The further vulnerability of Kenya to climate change and temperature projections suggesting a rise of 2.5°C between 2000 to 2050 present these communities with the challenge of ensuring food security, access to water and dealing with livestock diseases. The above challenges call for the development of effective adaptation strategies to minimize the effect of climate change and variability on the livelihoods of the people living in ASALs (Bobadoye A.O, 2016). The current approaches and strategies need to be changed in order to build resilience and adaptation capacity among the affected communities (Bobadoye A.O, 2016; Nicholas Ozor, 2011). These communities will be required to embrace new skills and attitudes through knowledge transfer and capacity building a role that can be effectively filled by extension agents (Nicholas Ozor, 2011). Extension agents have influence towards the decisions made by farmers and pastoralists and they therefore play a very important role in the interpretation of climate change and variability research and providing information on adaptation measures necessary to the affected communities (Bobadoye A.O, 2016; Emily Susko, 2013). Adaptation to the impacts of climate change and variability is crucial in protecting the livelihoods and in ensuring food security among the pastoralist communities (Dagmawi M. Abegaz, 2014). There is some acknowledgement by the government on the important role of extension agencies in the agricultural sector. However the livestock subsector only has 20% of the required staff quota making service delivery difficult. All these factors have created a gap in knowledge transfer and capacity development leading to dire consequences. It has not only posed a threat to food security but also presented a new set of challenges in accessing animal feed, water, exposing the livestock to diseases and heat stress and to the general economy with livestock estimated to contribute 5.5% of the country’s GDP (Ministry of Agriculture, 2015). According to the (ILRI, 2015) Corporate Report 2014-2015, Kenya lost USD 3.3 billon in the livestock sector due to drought between 2008 and 2011. As a result pastoralists continue to be pushed deep in poverty due to livestock losses which are their main source of livelihood. In conclusion the changes in climate call for the adoption of new attitudes and practices to increase the level of preparedness among pastoralists to extreme conditions like drought. The extension agencies should fulfill their mandate to carry out public education and provide information to pastoralists and promote resilience and collaboration between different stakeholders in addressing different challenges among them, climate change (Nicholas Ozor, 2011). Failure to which the ASALS will forever be condemned to receiving hand outs for decades to come.      References  Bobadoye A.O, P. O. ( 2016). Pastoralist Perception on Climate Change and Variability in Kajiado in Relation to Meteorology Evidence. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Vol 5 No 1 . Dagmawi M. Abegaz, P. W. (2014). Extension Agents' Awareness of Climate Change in Ethiopia. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension , DOI: 10.1080/1389224X.2014.946936. Emily Susko, M. S. (2013). Role of Extension in climate Adaptation in the United States. Silver Spring, Maryland. FAO. (2016). THE STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE; CLIMATE CHANGE,AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY. Rome. ILRI. (2015). Corporate Report 2014-2015. Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute. Kandji, S. T. (2006). Drought in Kenya: climatic, economic and socio-political factors. New Standpoints , 17-19. Ministry of Agriculture, L. a. (2015). Strategic Plan 2013-2017. Nairobi: Government of Kenya.
    Jan 30, 2017 417
  • 23 Jan 2017
    Happy New Year! I hope it is not too late for the New Year wishes and good tidings. I am hoping that we all had a great winter break and we are looking forward to the coming days with great enthusiasm. My holiday from the blog is over so you can expect the weekly updates and links on your whatsApp groups to resume. Today’s entry is really special to me because it is a reflection of what it has meant to be one of the community leaders for the Community of Practice now that the time to handover that responsibility is here. When the call came for the positions it was almost natural for me to apply mostly because I have and continue to be involved in a similar platform albeit with a more broader outreach. We were required to submit an application detailing how we would better the platform and foster more activity online and offline. Looking back I think I underestimated that challenge and the jury is still out on what we achieved and what we slacked on but what cannot be denied is that we have all worked to beat this challenge. This position has provided me with an avenue for personal growth, bettering my communication and leadership skills. My networking abilities have also been honed and I can confidently say that I am a better rounded individual than when it all started. I can bet you that this is also true for other leaders as well. I want to acknowledge the endless support from the PAUWES administration and from the UNU-EHS who envisioned this platform and put all the resources and experts to making sure its operation continues to be top notch. However, the glue that holds this platform together is the group leaders and their members. I have watched their creativity come to play every time something has been required of them and they have always delivered above expectations. I have seen them each shine and grow into their responsibilities be it in event organization, coverage or interaction with their group members, partners and other stakeholders. So to each of them I say thank you and I hope they look back with nostalgia even on those heated moments we may have had. I have always believed that CoP presents a great opportunity for all students to develop their hard and soft skills. That belief continues for me even today because it is a platform run by students for the students. This platform presents an opportunity to network, share ideas and express our creativity. If you are interested in video filming you can sit down with the multimedia team and come up with creative ways to share ideas and as a result better your skills. For those who feel they want to blog, talk to the editorial team and explore ways on which your ideas can be shared with the rest of us and the world. You can stimulate debate on and off the platform by contributing to the work of your respective groups and being part of a greater vision. In short, each of the 7 groups have something for everyone and my challenge to each of you is to challenge how things are done, propose innovative ways to making the platform more active and keep growing as an individual and within groups. In conclusion, I am calling upon all the individuals who feel that they are up for the challenge to make CoP better and themselves as group leaders and community leaders to express their interest. The call for the new student leaders will go out this week and I believe so will that of group leaders and deputy leaders. If you have any questions get in touch with Martin, Mohammed or me and better yet talk to your respective group leaders. The leadership positions are not only fun and out of your comfort zone but they also offer endless networking opportunities. I am excited at what the future holds and you can be sure I will be part of this community for a very long time to come!
    476 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Happy New Year! I hope it is not too late for the New Year wishes and good tidings. I am hoping that we all had a great winter break and we are looking forward to the coming days with great enthusiasm. My holiday from the blog is over so you can expect the weekly updates and links on your whatsApp groups to resume. Today’s entry is really special to me because it is a reflection of what it has meant to be one of the community leaders for the Community of Practice now that the time to handover that responsibility is here. When the call came for the positions it was almost natural for me to apply mostly because I have and continue to be involved in a similar platform albeit with a more broader outreach. We were required to submit an application detailing how we would better the platform and foster more activity online and offline. Looking back I think I underestimated that challenge and the jury is still out on what we achieved and what we slacked on but what cannot be denied is that we have all worked to beat this challenge. This position has provided me with an avenue for personal growth, bettering my communication and leadership skills. My networking abilities have also been honed and I can confidently say that I am a better rounded individual than when it all started. I can bet you that this is also true for other leaders as well. I want to acknowledge the endless support from the PAUWES administration and from the UNU-EHS who envisioned this platform and put all the resources and experts to making sure its operation continues to be top notch. However, the glue that holds this platform together is the group leaders and their members. I have watched their creativity come to play every time something has been required of them and they have always delivered above expectations. I have seen them each shine and grow into their responsibilities be it in event organization, coverage or interaction with their group members, partners and other stakeholders. So to each of them I say thank you and I hope they look back with nostalgia even on those heated moments we may have had. I have always believed that CoP presents a great opportunity for all students to develop their hard and soft skills. That belief continues for me even today because it is a platform run by students for the students. This platform presents an opportunity to network, share ideas and express our creativity. If you are interested in video filming you can sit down with the multimedia team and come up with creative ways to share ideas and as a result better your skills. For those who feel they want to blog, talk to the editorial team and explore ways on which your ideas can be shared with the rest of us and the world. You can stimulate debate on and off the platform by contributing to the work of your respective groups and being part of a greater vision. In short, each of the 7 groups have something for everyone and my challenge to each of you is to challenge how things are done, propose innovative ways to making the platform more active and keep growing as an individual and within groups. In conclusion, I am calling upon all the individuals who feel that they are up for the challenge to make CoP better and themselves as group leaders and community leaders to express their interest. The call for the new student leaders will go out this week and I believe so will that of group leaders and deputy leaders. If you have any questions get in touch with Martin, Mohammed or me and better yet talk to your respective group leaders. The leadership positions are not only fun and out of your comfort zone but they also offer endless networking opportunities. I am excited at what the future holds and you can be sure I will be part of this community for a very long time to come!
    Jan 23, 2017 476
  • 27 Dec 2016
    When going into the real estate business, or even constructing your own house in Africa, it would be recommendable to go off-grid. This is because there is an alternative source of energy that is not only friendly to the environment but also pocket-friendly. Solar is becoming cheaper by the day and it is particularly cheaper in Africa as the continent is among the sunniest in the world. This has been driven by the reducing cost of solar PV modules as shown above. Looking at the brief analysis below, you can see how cheap solar is getting. The illustration above shows that the price of solar is below 6 dollar cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) anywhere in Africa as the continent is within the solar belt. Remember too that the pricing is unsubsidized. That cost is even lower than what most people currently pay for electricity in countries all over Africa. To put this into perspective, a report released by African Development Bank indicated that the average cost of electricity in Africa was US $0.14 per kWh against a production cost of US $0.18 per kWh in 2010. The situation hasn’t changed much for my country Kenya as the average cost of electricity for the low consumers is currently about US $0.14 per kWh with most average to high consumers paying about US $0.19 per kWh. That cost is expensive compared to solar and doesn’t take into consideration externalities such as environmental impacts from the use of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Energy Storage.. There is no concern with regards to ensuring a 24-hour supply of electricity as a result of declining cost and continuous improvement of energy storage technologies. Companies such as Tesla hope to produce batteries of $100 per kWh by 2020. There are also other companies undertaking numerous research and development on energy storage aiming to lower the price even further. For this reason, it is practical to establish a real estate business or even construct/convert a home to be purely based on solar energy in Africa. The savings will be enormous from a clean and reliable source of energy. Prospects for savings… Let’s assume you are in Kenya and its 2020 already, the cost of solar averages US $0.045 per kWh while the electricity from the grid remains at US $0.19 per kWh for most middle-class consumers. Let’s also assume a consumption of about 300 kWh every month.  The savings from using solar will be about US $522 in a year. The savings for a about 5 years will be able to purchase a solar energy system, including energy storage, that will provide free electricity for at least 25 years more. I hope we see the sense and embrace solar as a dependable energy source. In fact, there is no need to wait until 2020, make 2017 a year for savings on electricity as well as the environment by adopting solar energy.
    487 Posted by Eric Akumu
  • When going into the real estate business, or even constructing your own house in Africa, it would be recommendable to go off-grid. This is because there is an alternative source of energy that is not only friendly to the environment but also pocket-friendly. Solar is becoming cheaper by the day and it is particularly cheaper in Africa as the continent is among the sunniest in the world. This has been driven by the reducing cost of solar PV modules as shown above. Looking at the brief analysis below, you can see how cheap solar is getting. The illustration above shows that the price of solar is below 6 dollar cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) anywhere in Africa as the continent is within the solar belt. Remember too that the pricing is unsubsidized. That cost is even lower than what most people currently pay for electricity in countries all over Africa. To put this into perspective, a report released by African Development Bank indicated that the average cost of electricity in Africa was US $0.14 per kWh against a production cost of US $0.18 per kWh in 2010. The situation hasn’t changed much for my country Kenya as the average cost of electricity for the low consumers is currently about US $0.14 per kWh with most average to high consumers paying about US $0.19 per kWh. That cost is expensive compared to solar and doesn’t take into consideration externalities such as environmental impacts from the use of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Energy Storage.. There is no concern with regards to ensuring a 24-hour supply of electricity as a result of declining cost and continuous improvement of energy storage technologies. Companies such as Tesla hope to produce batteries of $100 per kWh by 2020. There are also other companies undertaking numerous research and development on energy storage aiming to lower the price even further. For this reason, it is practical to establish a real estate business or even construct/convert a home to be purely based on solar energy in Africa. The savings will be enormous from a clean and reliable source of energy. Prospects for savings… Let’s assume you are in Kenya and its 2020 already, the cost of solar averages US $0.045 per kWh while the electricity from the grid remains at US $0.19 per kWh for most middle-class consumers. Let’s also assume a consumption of about 300 kWh every month.  The savings from using solar will be about US $522 in a year. The savings for a about 5 years will be able to purchase a solar energy system, including energy storage, that will provide free electricity for at least 25 years more. I hope we see the sense and embrace solar as a dependable energy source. In fact, there is no need to wait until 2020, make 2017 a year for savings on electricity as well as the environment by adopting solar energy.
    Dec 27, 2016 487
  • 07 Dec 2016
    During my undergraduate we had to take a module on Environmental Indigenous Knowledge Systems. The aim of the module was to show the existence of traditional knowledge on the sustainable use of natural resources among the different communities in Kenya and by extension Africa. Our forefathers had dependable knowledge on weather patterns, migration of animals, soil conservation and medicine and the management of resources in general. I have had the privilege of working with communities and it has always been clear that each holds unique knowledge and skills to ensure their survival and continuity. However, we live in a world where most of those who have been through school look down on the cultural and traditional knowledge and the younger generation are not keen to learn from the older generation. Hence this knowledge system is slowly dying from our society.   I am particularly more interested in the area of climate change and adaptation mostly because it affects the very core of our communities by threatening food security and livelihoods. If you speak to anyone in the rural areas whether a farmer or pastoralist they will tell you that they have noticed considerable changes in the weather patterns only they do not know what to attribute it to. The rainy seasons are unpredictable, shorter or more intense to cause flooding and the dry spells are more frequent and last longer. On top of this, their yields have decreased and new crop and livestock diseases have emerged pushing some to the blink of starvation. So the biggest question is why the research and information in print on how to build resilience and adapt to climate change is not reaching these communities and if it is, why is it not as effective?   Governments and international research institute are spending millions of dollars towards research and rightly so considering there is so much we still do not comprehend about climate change and its impacts. There are conferences and agreements being signed right left and center as we seek to minimize these impacts and build resilience of our people and the world. However, what good is it if this science is not being translated into action? The local farmers or pastoralists may not understand the scientific jargons but they can surely contribute into the localizations of solutions that fit their particular challenges. They possess knowledge on crop rotation and pest control, water resource management and soil conservation and on crops that are drought resistant and yet their contribution is undervalued. The creation of awareness should therefore come from a place of collaboration and not dictation if any sustainable solutions are to be found. We have so many projects on the continent that have not seen a day after the donors have left. They collapse because they ignore the contributions of the local people and the knowledge they possess and hence the lack of ownership and continuity.   Science and research plays an important role in our world today and will continue to do so in the future. However, we must not ignore the existing knowledge among our communities because to know the future we must understand our past. The answers we seek lie in integrating scientific and indigenous knowledge and finding what works for each community. Researchers and scientists cannot continue to take the role where they dictate the changes that need to be made in our society and assume that communities are without any knowledge. What we need is for all stakeholders to come together and have a platform where they can share knowledge and information. This will not only create ownership of projects but create sustainability where projects last beyond their funding phases and maybe development goals like the SDG’s will be attainable.
    430 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • During my undergraduate we had to take a module on Environmental Indigenous Knowledge Systems. The aim of the module was to show the existence of traditional knowledge on the sustainable use of natural resources among the different communities in Kenya and by extension Africa. Our forefathers had dependable knowledge on weather patterns, migration of animals, soil conservation and medicine and the management of resources in general. I have had the privilege of working with communities and it has always been clear that each holds unique knowledge and skills to ensure their survival and continuity. However, we live in a world where most of those who have been through school look down on the cultural and traditional knowledge and the younger generation are not keen to learn from the older generation. Hence this knowledge system is slowly dying from our society.   I am particularly more interested in the area of climate change and adaptation mostly because it affects the very core of our communities by threatening food security and livelihoods. If you speak to anyone in the rural areas whether a farmer or pastoralist they will tell you that they have noticed considerable changes in the weather patterns only they do not know what to attribute it to. The rainy seasons are unpredictable, shorter or more intense to cause flooding and the dry spells are more frequent and last longer. On top of this, their yields have decreased and new crop and livestock diseases have emerged pushing some to the blink of starvation. So the biggest question is why the research and information in print on how to build resilience and adapt to climate change is not reaching these communities and if it is, why is it not as effective?   Governments and international research institute are spending millions of dollars towards research and rightly so considering there is so much we still do not comprehend about climate change and its impacts. There are conferences and agreements being signed right left and center as we seek to minimize these impacts and build resilience of our people and the world. However, what good is it if this science is not being translated into action? The local farmers or pastoralists may not understand the scientific jargons but they can surely contribute into the localizations of solutions that fit their particular challenges. They possess knowledge on crop rotation and pest control, water resource management and soil conservation and on crops that are drought resistant and yet their contribution is undervalued. The creation of awareness should therefore come from a place of collaboration and not dictation if any sustainable solutions are to be found. We have so many projects on the continent that have not seen a day after the donors have left. They collapse because they ignore the contributions of the local people and the knowledge they possess and hence the lack of ownership and continuity.   Science and research plays an important role in our world today and will continue to do so in the future. However, we must not ignore the existing knowledge among our communities because to know the future we must understand our past. The answers we seek lie in integrating scientific and indigenous knowledge and finding what works for each community. Researchers and scientists cannot continue to take the role where they dictate the changes that need to be made in our society and assume that communities are without any knowledge. What we need is for all stakeholders to come together and have a platform where they can share knowledge and information. This will not only create ownership of projects but create sustainability where projects last beyond their funding phases and maybe development goals like the SDG’s will be attainable.
    Dec 07, 2016 430
  • 04 Apr 2016
    A question was recently posed to all of us, how did we come to hear about PAUWES and what are we planning to do after graduation next year. As you can imagine the answers were as valid as the number we are. I believe that when we all received the email offering us a place at the institute we weighed our options before committing to accept the offer. I was working for an engineering firm before I joined PAUWES and as much as I loved my line of work in the environmental and social field I was ready for change and here I am. Months later I am glad I made that decision because I have seen my areas of interest take shape in ways I never imagined before. I can clearly see myself working with communities in empowering women and men in adapting and mitigating impacts of climate change which will only come from creation of awareness and capacity building and involvement of all stakeholders in policy formulation in regards to resource use and exploitation.   I am not here to patronize anyone. We all had different expectations when we said yes to that offer back in July last year and I will be the first to admit that some of my expectations have not been met but others have been met beyond what was offered. One of the things I can credit the institute for is the creation of networking opportunities for all students. In March this year we had a symposium on renewable energy that saw researchers from Africa and Europe come together and spend almost a week in Tlemcen. The icing on the cake is all of us were in one way or another involved in the planning and coordinating the symposium activities. Fast forward in late March and we travelled to Germany where we were not only able to interact with experts in our relevant fields but with students who have been successful in doing research and for some coming up with new inventions. The willingness for them to help or refer us to someone who could offer a better perspective was humbling and appreciated.   So where am I going with all of this? I have heard the question time and again about where our fate lies once we graduate next year. I recognize that the uncertain future is a cause for worry for some of us and I know the job market is very competitive and sometimes all you need is someone to give you a push or put in a good word for you. What I do not agree with is our approach to the above. We cannot continue to complain about the opportunities that are not available while we are not using the ones provided. I want to pose a question to all of us, how many of us approached the professors and students during the symposium and in Germany seeking to create new networks and connections? How many of us approached someone and they said no to your request without giving you an alternative? Some may argue that not all of us are able to approach new people and strike a conversation but we also have to be willing to step into unfamiliar waters and take risks. It is nerve wrecking for the first time but I promise it gets easier.   When we signed the contract no one promised to offer us a job after graduation, I doubt any scholarship program promises that anywhere else in the world. What we have instead is a safe environment to connect and interact with experts from different fields and a chance to build our confidence level without the pressure of getting it right the first time. I look at networking as a reward point system, where every connection made is a point gained and you can redeem later on in life. We have the Community of Practice (CoP) that allows follow up and chances to show case our abilities outside the classroom environment as individuals or in our respective groups. Soon enough different companies data base will be uploaded and new opportunities will arise. More professors and experts will join and the community will grow. You have the liberty to invite someone to CoP if you feel that their expertise could be of help to you as an individual or others. If you identify a connection worth exploring and you have no idea how to approach them you can ask for help, there is always someone willing to give a hand. The possibilities are endless but we have to make that first step or we will never realize how many people are willing to walk with us. What saddens me is that we have not realized the opportunities provided to us or have not been willing to invest time to exploit them fully. We have not taken time to upload our resume or at the very least a profile picture or write to a new connection and clearly articulate our areas of interest and the kind of push we need. In my opinion the field is set and we only have to be willing to play in it. It would be sad if after two years we looked back at our time here with regret, 24 months is way too much time to spend pointing out what has not been given to you. If you think life gave you lemons the minute you stepped in PAUWES please make some lemonade summer is coming!
    1204 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • A question was recently posed to all of us, how did we come to hear about PAUWES and what are we planning to do after graduation next year. As you can imagine the answers were as valid as the number we are. I believe that when we all received the email offering us a place at the institute we weighed our options before committing to accept the offer. I was working for an engineering firm before I joined PAUWES and as much as I loved my line of work in the environmental and social field I was ready for change and here I am. Months later I am glad I made that decision because I have seen my areas of interest take shape in ways I never imagined before. I can clearly see myself working with communities in empowering women and men in adapting and mitigating impacts of climate change which will only come from creation of awareness and capacity building and involvement of all stakeholders in policy formulation in regards to resource use and exploitation.   I am not here to patronize anyone. We all had different expectations when we said yes to that offer back in July last year and I will be the first to admit that some of my expectations have not been met but others have been met beyond what was offered. One of the things I can credit the institute for is the creation of networking opportunities for all students. In March this year we had a symposium on renewable energy that saw researchers from Africa and Europe come together and spend almost a week in Tlemcen. The icing on the cake is all of us were in one way or another involved in the planning and coordinating the symposium activities. Fast forward in late March and we travelled to Germany where we were not only able to interact with experts in our relevant fields but with students who have been successful in doing research and for some coming up with new inventions. The willingness for them to help or refer us to someone who could offer a better perspective was humbling and appreciated.   So where am I going with all of this? I have heard the question time and again about where our fate lies once we graduate next year. I recognize that the uncertain future is a cause for worry for some of us and I know the job market is very competitive and sometimes all you need is someone to give you a push or put in a good word for you. What I do not agree with is our approach to the above. We cannot continue to complain about the opportunities that are not available while we are not using the ones provided. I want to pose a question to all of us, how many of us approached the professors and students during the symposium and in Germany seeking to create new networks and connections? How many of us approached someone and they said no to your request without giving you an alternative? Some may argue that not all of us are able to approach new people and strike a conversation but we also have to be willing to step into unfamiliar waters and take risks. It is nerve wrecking for the first time but I promise it gets easier.   When we signed the contract no one promised to offer us a job after graduation, I doubt any scholarship program promises that anywhere else in the world. What we have instead is a safe environment to connect and interact with experts from different fields and a chance to build our confidence level without the pressure of getting it right the first time. I look at networking as a reward point system, where every connection made is a point gained and you can redeem later on in life. We have the Community of Practice (CoP) that allows follow up and chances to show case our abilities outside the classroom environment as individuals or in our respective groups. Soon enough different companies data base will be uploaded and new opportunities will arise. More professors and experts will join and the community will grow. You have the liberty to invite someone to CoP if you feel that their expertise could be of help to you as an individual or others. If you identify a connection worth exploring and you have no idea how to approach them you can ask for help, there is always someone willing to give a hand. The possibilities are endless but we have to make that first step or we will never realize how many people are willing to walk with us. What saddens me is that we have not realized the opportunities provided to us or have not been willing to invest time to exploit them fully. We have not taken time to upload our resume or at the very least a profile picture or write to a new connection and clearly articulate our areas of interest and the kind of push we need. In my opinion the field is set and we only have to be willing to play in it. It would be sad if after two years we looked back at our time here with regret, 24 months is way too much time to spend pointing out what has not been given to you. If you think life gave you lemons the minute you stepped in PAUWES please make some lemonade summer is coming!
    Apr 04, 2016 1204
  • 02 May 2016
    I am a lover of elephants and I have been lucky enough to watch them in their natural habitat. They are the most majestic animals I have ever come across and the sheer size of an adult bull or cow always leaves me in wonder. Their sense of family and interaction is an honor to watch.  There are two species of elephant; African elephant weighing up to 6, 000kg and its Asian counterpart weighing at around 5,000kg. Every elephant herd is led by a matriarch which is the oldest female in the herd (it’s a female world out there). Her role is to offer guidance to the heard and teach the young ones how to behave. So intelligent are they that they extend their trunks in greetings when they meet each other and are known to perform funeral rituals for their dead. Let me assure you that I am not here to bore you with facts about elephants but to bring to your attention the threat that faces these gentle giants.   On 30th April 2016 Kenya burnt over 100 tones of ivory stock piles which is a representation of about 8,000 elephants that have been lost to poaching in the recent years. This ivory was not only confiscated from poachers in Kenya but from traffickers using Kenyan airports and ports to export the illegal goods. According to the African Wildlife Foundation there are around 470,000 African elephants roaming the wild. Some of us may think that this is a huge number but the picture on the ground is more tragic. Every 15 minutes an African elephant is killed by poachers for its tusks. That means that if this trend continues the elephants will be extinct in the next two decades. Boom! Gone!   The historical burn of over 100 tones of ivory at Nairobi National Park Most of you might argue that we live in a world where it is survival for the fittest and Charles Darwin would definitely back up your argument. However, this is not nature taking its course but human greed fuelling massive killings. The largest markets for ivory products are China and the United States. What disgusts me the most is that it is the elite that are buying the ivory trinkets and carvings to cement their standing in society. The icing on this madness is their belief that the trinkets or carvings are good luck charms, an aphrodisiac (really?) and are a sign of wealth. How low the human race has sunk is beyond my comprehension. The cycle of ivory trade is one of pain and loss of lives. Park rangers are killed daily in the line of duty and war lords like Joseph Kony from Uganda sell ivory to buy arms and continue reigning terror among the innocents. Do not get me started on the crimes his army has committed against women and children as he seeks to quench his power hungry soul.   That is why the action of Kenya to burn over 100 tones of ivory is very significant. It sends a message that Kenya will not tolerate illegal trade in wildlife. It is a cry to the world to pay attention before elephants and rhinos become a tale like the dinosaurs. Many people especially in Kenya have been of the opinion that the ivory should have been sold at an estimation of 172 million USD and the money used for conservation efforts. I choose to disagree; great strides have been made in banning ivory trade in some states in America and parts of China. Releasing such amount of ivory to the market will only refuel the trade and result to more poaching. On the other hand guarding ivory stock piles is an expensive affair and would require 24/7 surveillance. The danger with this is that we have some rotten corrupt individuals who would not blink an eye when sneaking the ivory to the black market. So what better way to stick it up their faces other than burning the stock piles to ashes! We are simply saying elephants are worth more alive, let me explain;   Tourism in Kenya is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture. The $1 billion a year industry is a source of livelihood for thousands of Kenyans while our South African counterparts earn more than $ 7 billion every year accounting for around 7.9% of its GDP. I could go on and on about the benefits we derive as a continent from live animals than dead. I recognize that this problem is not only unique to Africa but conservationists around the world are racing against time to save other endangered species like the white rhino, sea turtles, jaguar, panda, white sharks among many others. What has gotten us here is human greed. It is the lack of respect for any other creature that walks on the face of the earth. We have forgotten that man may be supposedly the most intelligent on the web but every species has a role to play in the functioning of the food web.   We are destroying our planet at an unprecedented rate. We have cleared forests to build cities and expand our suburban neighborhoods, we have polluted the same rivers that give us life and turned our ears deaf to the conservationists’ voices of reason among us. History however, will judge us. Generations to come will hold us responsible for not protecting that which was entrusted to us. We owe it to them therefore, to be stewards of this beautiful planet until we can pass the torch to them.
    892 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I am a lover of elephants and I have been lucky enough to watch them in their natural habitat. They are the most majestic animals I have ever come across and the sheer size of an adult bull or cow always leaves me in wonder. Their sense of family and interaction is an honor to watch.  There are two species of elephant; African elephant weighing up to 6, 000kg and its Asian counterpart weighing at around 5,000kg. Every elephant herd is led by a matriarch which is the oldest female in the herd (it’s a female world out there). Her role is to offer guidance to the heard and teach the young ones how to behave. So intelligent are they that they extend their trunks in greetings when they meet each other and are known to perform funeral rituals for their dead. Let me assure you that I am not here to bore you with facts about elephants but to bring to your attention the threat that faces these gentle giants.   On 30th April 2016 Kenya burnt over 100 tones of ivory stock piles which is a representation of about 8,000 elephants that have been lost to poaching in the recent years. This ivory was not only confiscated from poachers in Kenya but from traffickers using Kenyan airports and ports to export the illegal goods. According to the African Wildlife Foundation there are around 470,000 African elephants roaming the wild. Some of us may think that this is a huge number but the picture on the ground is more tragic. Every 15 minutes an African elephant is killed by poachers for its tusks. That means that if this trend continues the elephants will be extinct in the next two decades. Boom! Gone!   The historical burn of over 100 tones of ivory at Nairobi National Park Most of you might argue that we live in a world where it is survival for the fittest and Charles Darwin would definitely back up your argument. However, this is not nature taking its course but human greed fuelling massive killings. The largest markets for ivory products are China and the United States. What disgusts me the most is that it is the elite that are buying the ivory trinkets and carvings to cement their standing in society. The icing on this madness is their belief that the trinkets or carvings are good luck charms, an aphrodisiac (really?) and are a sign of wealth. How low the human race has sunk is beyond my comprehension. The cycle of ivory trade is one of pain and loss of lives. Park rangers are killed daily in the line of duty and war lords like Joseph Kony from Uganda sell ivory to buy arms and continue reigning terror among the innocents. Do not get me started on the crimes his army has committed against women and children as he seeks to quench his power hungry soul.   That is why the action of Kenya to burn over 100 tones of ivory is very significant. It sends a message that Kenya will not tolerate illegal trade in wildlife. It is a cry to the world to pay attention before elephants and rhinos become a tale like the dinosaurs. Many people especially in Kenya have been of the opinion that the ivory should have been sold at an estimation of 172 million USD and the money used for conservation efforts. I choose to disagree; great strides have been made in banning ivory trade in some states in America and parts of China. Releasing such amount of ivory to the market will only refuel the trade and result to more poaching. On the other hand guarding ivory stock piles is an expensive affair and would require 24/7 surveillance. The danger with this is that we have some rotten corrupt individuals who would not blink an eye when sneaking the ivory to the black market. So what better way to stick it up their faces other than burning the stock piles to ashes! We are simply saying elephants are worth more alive, let me explain;   Tourism in Kenya is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture. The $1 billion a year industry is a source of livelihood for thousands of Kenyans while our South African counterparts earn more than $ 7 billion every year accounting for around 7.9% of its GDP. I could go on and on about the benefits we derive as a continent from live animals than dead. I recognize that this problem is not only unique to Africa but conservationists around the world are racing against time to save other endangered species like the white rhino, sea turtles, jaguar, panda, white sharks among many others. What has gotten us here is human greed. It is the lack of respect for any other creature that walks on the face of the earth. We have forgotten that man may be supposedly the most intelligent on the web but every species has a role to play in the functioning of the food web.   We are destroying our planet at an unprecedented rate. We have cleared forests to build cities and expand our suburban neighborhoods, we have polluted the same rivers that give us life and turned our ears deaf to the conservationists’ voices of reason among us. History however, will judge us. Generations to come will hold us responsible for not protecting that which was entrusted to us. We owe it to them therefore, to be stewards of this beautiful planet until we can pass the torch to them.
    May 02, 2016 892
  • 01 Mar 2016
    If you are one to pay attention to job and scholarship adverts you have probably come across the phrase “women are encouraged to apply”. Some go as far as raising the age requirement for women or lowering their required years of experience for a job. Where I come from (Kenya) the constitution allows for the election of women representatives under a category that no man is allowed to compete under. The exodus of all these began in September 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women where participating governments came together and passed what is  now famously know as the Beijing declaration. Their aim was to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity. Women and girls were to have equal opportunities in accessing resources, education, health care, leadership positions and participating in the decision making process. But just how did the participating governments hope to achieve this? If you go through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action document I can bet you my stipend (the whole 750$) that you will come across the word equity. I believe this was done in good faith but its implementation has lost sight of what it really means to achieve gender equity. It does not mean that women have to be given special preference to match up to the skill level of men nor do they want to hold jobs simply because they are female. Creating special parliamentary seats for women does not equal to better service delivery or representation of their needs. I think our systems have failed in implementing the goals that were envisioned in the Beijing declaration. Our women and girls do not need special favors just because of their gender nor does it mean we forget the boy child. Forgetting the boy child simply means years from now we will have to launch a new declaration on the empowerment of men. What they all need is mentorship and skill building from a young age. If we provide all the necessary tools and skills for the development of our young girls and boys there will be no need whatsoever to favor one sex over the other when opportunities arise. I will own up to using the gender card to get my way sometimes, like getting to do a class presentation first over the guys in my class or getting a seat in the bus when I am well capable of standing through a trip(hopefully I will still get a seat after this). I will even play the vulnerable card because what man does not want to act as the prince charming to a damsel in distress. Yet I never want my gender to play a role in earning a position or favors that put my skills and abilities into question. Maybe I am being a tad bit hypocritical but I want to believe that I have earned enough skills to compete on the same level with the opposite sex. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a lady accused of using her wiles to get good grades or earn a promotion. Some of these accusations maybe true but who are we to think that they are incapable of earning their way up. It is true that women worldwide face indomitable challenges more so in Africa in areas of education, health care and resources allocation. Gender mainstreaming and equity may offer solutions to these challenges but it does not mean compromising on quality so that we can all pat our backs on how well our society is doing. It is not giving special preference to women over men. I believe it is the nurturing of the skills and capabilities of both men and women from a young age and harnessing what each of them can do best. 
    775 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • If you are one to pay attention to job and scholarship adverts you have probably come across the phrase “women are encouraged to apply”. Some go as far as raising the age requirement for women or lowering their required years of experience for a job. Where I come from (Kenya) the constitution allows for the election of women representatives under a category that no man is allowed to compete under. The exodus of all these began in September 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women where participating governments came together and passed what is  now famously know as the Beijing declaration. Their aim was to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity. Women and girls were to have equal opportunities in accessing resources, education, health care, leadership positions and participating in the decision making process. But just how did the participating governments hope to achieve this? If you go through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action document I can bet you my stipend (the whole 750$) that you will come across the word equity. I believe this was done in good faith but its implementation has lost sight of what it really means to achieve gender equity. It does not mean that women have to be given special preference to match up to the skill level of men nor do they want to hold jobs simply because they are female. Creating special parliamentary seats for women does not equal to better service delivery or representation of their needs. I think our systems have failed in implementing the goals that were envisioned in the Beijing declaration. Our women and girls do not need special favors just because of their gender nor does it mean we forget the boy child. Forgetting the boy child simply means years from now we will have to launch a new declaration on the empowerment of men. What they all need is mentorship and skill building from a young age. If we provide all the necessary tools and skills for the development of our young girls and boys there will be no need whatsoever to favor one sex over the other when opportunities arise. I will own up to using the gender card to get my way sometimes, like getting to do a class presentation first over the guys in my class or getting a seat in the bus when I am well capable of standing through a trip(hopefully I will still get a seat after this). I will even play the vulnerable card because what man does not want to act as the prince charming to a damsel in distress. Yet I never want my gender to play a role in earning a position or favors that put my skills and abilities into question. Maybe I am being a tad bit hypocritical but I want to believe that I have earned enough skills to compete on the same level with the opposite sex. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a lady accused of using her wiles to get good grades or earn a promotion. Some of these accusations maybe true but who are we to think that they are incapable of earning their way up. It is true that women worldwide face indomitable challenges more so in Africa in areas of education, health care and resources allocation. Gender mainstreaming and equity may offer solutions to these challenges but it does not mean compromising on quality so that we can all pat our backs on how well our society is doing. It is not giving special preference to women over men. I believe it is the nurturing of the skills and capabilities of both men and women from a young age and harnessing what each of them can do best. 
    Mar 01, 2016 775
  • 08 Mar 2016
    I wonder when ethnic groups realized they were different, not because of their culture or practices but because of the color of their skin. When did skin color become more important than the blood that flows in our veins and when did the inner spirit that truly defines a person become second class? The emergence of the word race dates back to 17th century and is mostly used to categorize people primarily by their physical differences. I wonder who coined the word. I can imagine them sitting down in a dark room, smoking their pipes and sipping their fine scotch as they decided that the color of the skin, hair texture and facial features defined a man and his superiority. They must have had a water tight strategy because the propaganda spread like wildfire. It is no wonder the cosmetics industry has capitalized on this; there are countless lightening products in the market today and the buyers are not lacking. Think of all man has done, found cure to deadly diseases, travelled out of space, survived wars and natural disasters and yet he is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is one species; the human race. Not white, yellow, red, black, brown or whatever other classification you want to use. He is one species and we are all members of it I trust we have all watched or read the news on racial hate attacks or profiling. I used to think it cannot be that bad. The victims could rise beyond the hate, develop a hard skin and move on. After all, sticks and stones can break your bones but words cannot hurt you. Oh how terribly wrong I was, because when I came to be on the receiving end of the racial slur all I wanted to do was to crawl in a hole and hide. I wondered how someone could look at me and see an inferior being, a la couleur or even worse use the N word. I dreaded going out because it felt like I was walking into a lion’s den, I could feel the stares, feel them get ready to pounce as I walked on the streets and as if not ones to disappoint the shouts and crude remarks would start. I cannot tell you how many times I felt defiled or like a lesser human being.   I remember calling my best friend and bemoaning of how miserable and lonely I felt and I will never forget the words she said to me because they redefined my outlook on life here. She told me it would be a shame to live in a new country for two years and not know a soul. Hate is everywhere she argued but taking the victim role did not make me the better person. I had to reach out and open my heart to the new environment and the people. I thought she was crazy but I gave it a try and I have found acceptance for who I am and that somehow drowns the hate.   I will admit that I have gotten better at ignoring the shouts and the crude remarks. Maybe I have developed a thicker skin or I have come to the acceptance that every society has its rotten eggs. There are times I want to shout at the top of my voice or hit something or someone but that would only reinforce their belief that I am crazy plus I do not want to break my hand. So I ignore every word and go my way as if it doesn’t matter. But I still have questions, what resides in a heart that spews such venom or don’t they know it hurts? I am human too, I hurt and I crave for acceptance regardless of my skin color or my kinky hair. I bleed red, I breath oxygenand I am vulnerable with a heart that breaks just as easily. Yet in all these hate, I have found hope in the welcoming faces of total strangers and formed new friendships and I have learnt to never apologize for who I am because there can never be a more beautiful me.  
    754 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I wonder when ethnic groups realized they were different, not because of their culture or practices but because of the color of their skin. When did skin color become more important than the blood that flows in our veins and when did the inner spirit that truly defines a person become second class? The emergence of the word race dates back to 17th century and is mostly used to categorize people primarily by their physical differences. I wonder who coined the word. I can imagine them sitting down in a dark room, smoking their pipes and sipping their fine scotch as they decided that the color of the skin, hair texture and facial features defined a man and his superiority. They must have had a water tight strategy because the propaganda spread like wildfire. It is no wonder the cosmetics industry has capitalized on this; there are countless lightening products in the market today and the buyers are not lacking. Think of all man has done, found cure to deadly diseases, travelled out of space, survived wars and natural disasters and yet he is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is one species; the human race. Not white, yellow, red, black, brown or whatever other classification you want to use. He is one species and we are all members of it I trust we have all watched or read the news on racial hate attacks or profiling. I used to think it cannot be that bad. The victims could rise beyond the hate, develop a hard skin and move on. After all, sticks and stones can break your bones but words cannot hurt you. Oh how terribly wrong I was, because when I came to be on the receiving end of the racial slur all I wanted to do was to crawl in a hole and hide. I wondered how someone could look at me and see an inferior being, a la couleur or even worse use the N word. I dreaded going out because it felt like I was walking into a lion’s den, I could feel the stares, feel them get ready to pounce as I walked on the streets and as if not ones to disappoint the shouts and crude remarks would start. I cannot tell you how many times I felt defiled or like a lesser human being.   I remember calling my best friend and bemoaning of how miserable and lonely I felt and I will never forget the words she said to me because they redefined my outlook on life here. She told me it would be a shame to live in a new country for two years and not know a soul. Hate is everywhere she argued but taking the victim role did not make me the better person. I had to reach out and open my heart to the new environment and the people. I thought she was crazy but I gave it a try and I have found acceptance for who I am and that somehow drowns the hate.   I will admit that I have gotten better at ignoring the shouts and the crude remarks. Maybe I have developed a thicker skin or I have come to the acceptance that every society has its rotten eggs. There are times I want to shout at the top of my voice or hit something or someone but that would only reinforce their belief that I am crazy plus I do not want to break my hand. So I ignore every word and go my way as if it doesn’t matter. But I still have questions, what resides in a heart that spews such venom or don’t they know it hurts? I am human too, I hurt and I crave for acceptance regardless of my skin color or my kinky hair. I bleed red, I breath oxygenand I am vulnerable with a heart that breaks just as easily. Yet in all these hate, I have found hope in the welcoming faces of total strangers and formed new friendships and I have learnt to never apologize for who I am because there can never be a more beautiful me.  
    Mar 08, 2016 754
  • 11 Apr 2016
    The excitement! You could practically feel the buzz of anticipation in the air. Everything became before and after Germany. The visit became a measure of time. Everything went according to plan apart from my visa hitch which I am sure is common knowledge but that is a story for another day (I am greatly flattered to be confused for an Ethiopian lady but still..). The day came, we went, conquered (read shopped) and like everything with a beginning the end came and here we are. I immensely enjoyed the field excursions and the laboratory experiments. Not only were they eye opening but also very interactive. I am sure we all appreciate that a lot of work went into coordinating our activities and making sure our stay was as comfortable as possible and for that we are grateful. There are some things outside the class schedule however that have stayed with me. I was very concern about the immigration crisis especially in Germany before we travelled. We all know there has been backlash in some communities and I felt like the bulls eye. It is not like I could walk on the streets holding my passport or holding a placard showing I was there legally. Maybe this was me over analyzing things like I always do but I found comfort in the realization that no one cared who I was. People might have thought it, some even asked about it but at the end of the day I was treated with respect and I did not have to justify myself being in any place at any time. I was safe and I was able to make a few friends. It reminded me of home, of getting lost in the crowd and just being normal. It was refreshing after months of standing out like a sore thumb. I have travelled some and the norm is to find bottled water in my hotel room. So imagine my shock when we checked in to our rooms and there was no bottled water. Surely they must have forgotten, so I thought it was my rightful duty to remind them of this very important detail. The gentleman at the reception was kind enough to inform me that Germany has among the safest tap water in the world and went a step further to offer me a glass. This got me thinking, why do we pay taxes for our governments to provide services like supply safe drinking water and yet none of us is confident to drink tap water. We either boil it or buy mineral water. We need to demand better services which of course would require us knowing our constitutional rights but how many of us do? So they exploit us in our ignorance and we fill their pockets by buying more mineral water from unknown springs. I loved the commitment to keeping time. The assurance that if the meeting was at 9Am I did not have to worry about waiting for anyone. There is a popular African proverb that there is no hurry in Africa but we forget time waits for no man and it is money.  I am sure we all remember the long talk we had on the importance of keeping time before we travelled. What really stuck with me was equating time keeping to respect. It means you value and appreciate that the other person took the time out of their schedule to see you. Keeping time is you saying thank you, I appreciate you. Keeping time can also be equated to safety because you are not in a rush to go somewhere. In Kenya crossing the road has no set formula most of the time. In most cases no one really cares if the light is red or green unless a policeman is within the vicinity (people are more worried about paying a fine than safety). Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are all in such a hurry that they prefer the chaos to order. In Tlemcen most drivers are extremely kind and will slow down and let you cross with or without the light signals or a zebra crossing. What I found intriguing is that in the cities we visited people actually respect the significance of traffic lights. Safety. I cannot tell you how many times we stood by a red light with no oncoming vehicle and I was itching to cross to the other side but they say when you go to Rome do as the Romans do. I am sure you noticed some locals did not pay attention to the red light but the majority did and that matters because it implies that you are in a society that takes personal responsibility in ensuring safety and order which may look insignificant but plays a huge role in the efficient running of these cities. I am sure we all saw something that we know could work in our respective countries at no extra cost; something that would improve how our communities are run and make our relationships better. I guess it all boils down to personal conviction; the acknowledgement that you and I have a role to play in making this continent a better place without being policed. If we can start seeing ourselves as part of a bigger society and not individuals we can change our communities. If we can keep time someone else will learn from us eventually. If we can see a red light as a sign of safety and not wastage of time lives would be saved. If we can appreciate each other in our diversity maybe we will be a step away from world peace. If we fulfilled our role as citizens and demanded better service delivery and accountability maybe we will become economies in transition. A lot of maybes but we will never know unless we try.  
    687 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • The excitement! You could practically feel the buzz of anticipation in the air. Everything became before and after Germany. The visit became a measure of time. Everything went according to plan apart from my visa hitch which I am sure is common knowledge but that is a story for another day (I am greatly flattered to be confused for an Ethiopian lady but still..). The day came, we went, conquered (read shopped) and like everything with a beginning the end came and here we are. I immensely enjoyed the field excursions and the laboratory experiments. Not only were they eye opening but also very interactive. I am sure we all appreciate that a lot of work went into coordinating our activities and making sure our stay was as comfortable as possible and for that we are grateful. There are some things outside the class schedule however that have stayed with me. I was very concern about the immigration crisis especially in Germany before we travelled. We all know there has been backlash in some communities and I felt like the bulls eye. It is not like I could walk on the streets holding my passport or holding a placard showing I was there legally. Maybe this was me over analyzing things like I always do but I found comfort in the realization that no one cared who I was. People might have thought it, some even asked about it but at the end of the day I was treated with respect and I did not have to justify myself being in any place at any time. I was safe and I was able to make a few friends. It reminded me of home, of getting lost in the crowd and just being normal. It was refreshing after months of standing out like a sore thumb. I have travelled some and the norm is to find bottled water in my hotel room. So imagine my shock when we checked in to our rooms and there was no bottled water. Surely they must have forgotten, so I thought it was my rightful duty to remind them of this very important detail. The gentleman at the reception was kind enough to inform me that Germany has among the safest tap water in the world and went a step further to offer me a glass. This got me thinking, why do we pay taxes for our governments to provide services like supply safe drinking water and yet none of us is confident to drink tap water. We either boil it or buy mineral water. We need to demand better services which of course would require us knowing our constitutional rights but how many of us do? So they exploit us in our ignorance and we fill their pockets by buying more mineral water from unknown springs. I loved the commitment to keeping time. The assurance that if the meeting was at 9Am I did not have to worry about waiting for anyone. There is a popular African proverb that there is no hurry in Africa but we forget time waits for no man and it is money.  I am sure we all remember the long talk we had on the importance of keeping time before we travelled. What really stuck with me was equating time keeping to respect. It means you value and appreciate that the other person took the time out of their schedule to see you. Keeping time is you saying thank you, I appreciate you. Keeping time can also be equated to safety because you are not in a rush to go somewhere. In Kenya crossing the road has no set formula most of the time. In most cases no one really cares if the light is red or green unless a policeman is within the vicinity (people are more worried about paying a fine than safety). Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are all in such a hurry that they prefer the chaos to order. In Tlemcen most drivers are extremely kind and will slow down and let you cross with or without the light signals or a zebra crossing. What I found intriguing is that in the cities we visited people actually respect the significance of traffic lights. Safety. I cannot tell you how many times we stood by a red light with no oncoming vehicle and I was itching to cross to the other side but they say when you go to Rome do as the Romans do. I am sure you noticed some locals did not pay attention to the red light but the majority did and that matters because it implies that you are in a society that takes personal responsibility in ensuring safety and order which may look insignificant but plays a huge role in the efficient running of these cities. I am sure we all saw something that we know could work in our respective countries at no extra cost; something that would improve how our communities are run and make our relationships better. I guess it all boils down to personal conviction; the acknowledgement that you and I have a role to play in making this continent a better place without being policed. If we can start seeing ourselves as part of a bigger society and not individuals we can change our communities. If we can keep time someone else will learn from us eventually. If we can see a red light as a sign of safety and not wastage of time lives would be saved. If we can appreciate each other in our diversity maybe we will be a step away from world peace. If we fulfilled our role as citizens and demanded better service delivery and accountability maybe we will become economies in transition. A lot of maybes but we will never know unless we try.  
    Apr 11, 2016 687
  • 14 Mar 2016
    I have had a bit of trouble deciding on the topic for this week’s entry, not because I have run out of topics (far from it) but because with the symposium my mind has been overly stimulated to really settle down on one thing. I am thankful however, that this was accidentally decided for me when we went out for dinner with some colleagues and friends and our main discussion for the night became climate change and most specifically the need for behavior change if mitigation and adaptation measures are to be successful.   What I want to concentrate on is my dilemma on how efforts for mitigation and adaptation are going to be successful when decisions are being made at the top with no participation from those at the bottom especially in the African setting. Scientists and researchers have been able to come up with so much information and data on climate change in the last decades but unfortunately no one is decoding this scientific data into a language that the common man and most elite understand. Farmers, fishermen and pastoralists have all noticed a decline in either their yields or stock but most of them cannot directly attribute this to climate change.   The biggest challenge in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures is lack of ownership which is supposed to drive behavioral change. Every individual who inhabits planet earth needs to realize that we are all contributing to the emissions that continue to lead to climate variability and change. Simply put we are not living sustainably! I will admit that the concept of climate change is overwhelming even for me but If we can all do the best we can in living sustainably like cycle instead of driving, use public transport instead of private cars, recycle waste or water, turn off the lights or use natural products instead of those that are processed it will have a ripple benefit effect to the environment.   On the other hand we have to consider the societal and cultural norms that we are faced with especially here in Africa. Owning a car is considered as a sign of success while many think cycling is for the poor or the athletic. So how do you convince such societies to try public transport? Like a friend said public transport needs to be made attractive and you can only do that by making it reliable, secure and efficient. The public leaders and servants need to step out of their tinted, air conditioned fuel guzzling cars and live by example. This will only not help in the reduction of emissions but it will see a reduction in the amount of time and money lost in traffic jams.   I will admit the concept of sustainable development especially when coming from the west sounds hypocritical. What is to make Africa and other developing countries buy into this idea if the western economies unsustainably exploited resources to get their economies where they are. Even today most of the raw materials used in western factories come from the developing countries and the means of exploitation leave a lot to be desired. Africa provides a large market for products manufactured in the west like cars and processed goods and do not get me started on the dumping of e waste in the guise of donations. But we cannot afford to make this a blame game on who is doing this or that. When the sky falls like one of our colleagues stated it will fall on everyone.     I could go on and on about what I think is double talk and walk by the different stakeholders in regards to climate change but that is neither here nor there. What we need is to bring everyone on board and have a candid talk on the eventual consequences of our unsustainable living maybe not on us but the future generations. Farmers and pastoralists need to know that the long drought spells and unpredictable rainfall patterns are not a punishment form God but a result of emissions which they have contributed to even in the smallest of percentages. We need to provide alternatives like access to affordable renewable energy if the call to sustainable living is to be embraced. We cannot continue to heavily subsidize fossil fuels and expect the world to embrace renewable technologies. Companies that heavily emit green house gases need to be heavily taxed or closed down(drastic I know) and held accountable for their role in green house gases emissions. Banning of some products from our markets or closing down some markets only creates room for innovation and new discoveries.    If we all take it as our duty to act as stewards of this lovely planet and hold each other accountable we may not reverse the damage that has already been done but we will halt the acceleration of climate change. Until then we can continue attending conferences and conventions and even talk ourselves hoarse but nothing meaningful will come out of any of these if we do not believe we have a personal role to play.     The story of the humming bird by Prof Wangari Mathai, 2oo4 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate  The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can. In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’ But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet go down the drain. I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can.  
    676 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I have had a bit of trouble deciding on the topic for this week’s entry, not because I have run out of topics (far from it) but because with the symposium my mind has been overly stimulated to really settle down on one thing. I am thankful however, that this was accidentally decided for me when we went out for dinner with some colleagues and friends and our main discussion for the night became climate change and most specifically the need for behavior change if mitigation and adaptation measures are to be successful.   What I want to concentrate on is my dilemma on how efforts for mitigation and adaptation are going to be successful when decisions are being made at the top with no participation from those at the bottom especially in the African setting. Scientists and researchers have been able to come up with so much information and data on climate change in the last decades but unfortunately no one is decoding this scientific data into a language that the common man and most elite understand. Farmers, fishermen and pastoralists have all noticed a decline in either their yields or stock but most of them cannot directly attribute this to climate change.   The biggest challenge in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures is lack of ownership which is supposed to drive behavioral change. Every individual who inhabits planet earth needs to realize that we are all contributing to the emissions that continue to lead to climate variability and change. Simply put we are not living sustainably! I will admit that the concept of climate change is overwhelming even for me but If we can all do the best we can in living sustainably like cycle instead of driving, use public transport instead of private cars, recycle waste or water, turn off the lights or use natural products instead of those that are processed it will have a ripple benefit effect to the environment.   On the other hand we have to consider the societal and cultural norms that we are faced with especially here in Africa. Owning a car is considered as a sign of success while many think cycling is for the poor or the athletic. So how do you convince such societies to try public transport? Like a friend said public transport needs to be made attractive and you can only do that by making it reliable, secure and efficient. The public leaders and servants need to step out of their tinted, air conditioned fuel guzzling cars and live by example. This will only not help in the reduction of emissions but it will see a reduction in the amount of time and money lost in traffic jams.   I will admit the concept of sustainable development especially when coming from the west sounds hypocritical. What is to make Africa and other developing countries buy into this idea if the western economies unsustainably exploited resources to get their economies where they are. Even today most of the raw materials used in western factories come from the developing countries and the means of exploitation leave a lot to be desired. Africa provides a large market for products manufactured in the west like cars and processed goods and do not get me started on the dumping of e waste in the guise of donations. But we cannot afford to make this a blame game on who is doing this or that. When the sky falls like one of our colleagues stated it will fall on everyone.     I could go on and on about what I think is double talk and walk by the different stakeholders in regards to climate change but that is neither here nor there. What we need is to bring everyone on board and have a candid talk on the eventual consequences of our unsustainable living maybe not on us but the future generations. Farmers and pastoralists need to know that the long drought spells and unpredictable rainfall patterns are not a punishment form God but a result of emissions which they have contributed to even in the smallest of percentages. We need to provide alternatives like access to affordable renewable energy if the call to sustainable living is to be embraced. We cannot continue to heavily subsidize fossil fuels and expect the world to embrace renewable technologies. Companies that heavily emit green house gases need to be heavily taxed or closed down(drastic I know) and held accountable for their role in green house gases emissions. Banning of some products from our markets or closing down some markets only creates room for innovation and new discoveries.    If we all take it as our duty to act as stewards of this lovely planet and hold each other accountable we may not reverse the damage that has already been done but we will halt the acceleration of climate change. Until then we can continue attending conferences and conventions and even talk ourselves hoarse but nothing meaningful will come out of any of these if we do not believe we have a personal role to play.     The story of the humming bird by Prof Wangari Mathai, 2oo4 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate  The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can. In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’ But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet go down the drain. I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can.  
    Mar 14, 2016 676