The world over, there are noble talks to create an awareness among the people on the environment problems and conservation and create an atmosphere where people are meaningfully engaged in decision making and develop the capabilities to evaluate development programs especially those that are likely to have a negative effect to our environment. In the recent passed Sustainable development goals, we are happy that out of seventeen (17) outlined goals, three (3) are directly linked to environment. These are; goal number 6: ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; Goal number 13: take action to combat climate change and its impact, and Goal number 15: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem, sustainability manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. We can say that this was a major achievement to the environmentalist. The above goals can only be realized if efforts in each member countries are localized with very clear indicators to achieve the desired outcomes. It is for this reason that Nasaru Community Based Organization organized a forum for their women groups to and leaders to discuss how issues on environment can be tackled in the region.
The forum was organsied in two different phases, the first phase on January 27, 2017 and was attended by (15) women leaders. The second phase was held on 1st February and was attended by twenty (20) vibrant women leaders.
The general mood of the participants during both meetings was very good and the participants engaged the facilitator very well in the language they understand better, mother tongue (Kimaasai). This ensured that all the participants well understand the discussions. The forum was facilitated by a consultant who is conversant on the diverse issues of environmental in the country.
Objectives of the training
- Conservation awareness
- Adaptation practices and their contribution to climate change action
- Women participation in environmental conservation
- Alternative livelihood options that are environmental friendly
The facilitator used an interactive discussion where, questions and answers, experience sharing as well as use of diagrams to pass the message.
The discussions in phase one and phase two followed the same format. The first the facilitator done was to understand the participants’ level of knowledge in regards to the subject matter. The participants expressed their broad understanding of the environment and their surroundings. When asked to differentiate environment at the present time and when they were little children, it was noted that, hundred percent of the participants responded that the environment have changed negatively. Some of the notable changes outlined by the participants are; the loss of vegetation cover and biodiversity, the weather patterns are no longer understood that is example changes in the rains cycle, that there is water scarcity in the river beds that were known to provide reliable water upon digging of shallow well, that the land have been subdivide into smaller units (in reference to Kitengela and parts of Isinya). They also noted that there has been conflict between the factory owners and some residence and the drying up of some rivers for example Arthi-River.
Some of the reasons outlined by the participants are; massive cut down of trees to produce charcoal, the extraction of sand on the riverbeds more than nature can replenish, the loss of wildlife’s habitat, soil erosion as a result of deforestation, land use conflict (especially sand minors).The participants insinuated that at least 50% of the trees have been cut in Mail 46 and its environs.
The second thing to do therefore was to introduce the participants to simple concepts and causes of selected environmental issues. The facilitator use diagrams. The discussion revolved around effects, causes, and consequences of greenhouse effects, acid rain formation, stratospheric ozone depletion, point source and non-point source pollution.
They were also made aware of the conflict between humans and certain development initiatives.
Public participation on environmental matters
It is well-established that the public participation in decision-making is essential for local level development in general and in the management of natural resources. Empowerment of civil society example the local women groups will empower them to seek enforcement of environmental protection through administrative procedure. One of the main areas that the facilitator insisted was the participation of Nasaru Community Based Women Groups in the environmental stakeholders meetings. Their interests mainly being to ensure that environmental impact assessment is done and full implementation of the same to reduce any harmful impact to their areas. The participants were also made aware of the existence of the environmental Management Act EMCA 2009, and The public health act (CAP 242)
Pledges made by the participants
The facilitator required of the participants to pledge what actions they will take regarding environmental protection. Some of the main pledges are highlighted bellow.
- The participants will educate the rest of the community members on the importance of conserving the environment
- All promised to observe cleanliness of their surroundings by properly disposing of garbage
- Everyone to plant at least a tree in the next raining season
- That they encourage more groups to talk about environmental conservation in their meetings
- Participants from Torosei promised to stop/reduce violence against wild animals – elephants
- That they will increase the size of the ventilations in their manyattas
- That in their women groups table banking, they will start projects to buy solar lamps to avoid use of Kerosene.
The participants highlighted few challenges that deter them from fully implementation of the environmental conservation. Some of the challenges are highlighted bellow.
- Almost all participants said that they do not have the capacity to construct latrines.
- At least 99% of the participants use firewood as a source of energy. This result to cutting down of trees as well as contribute to the emission of carbon dioxide.
- They do not have a sustainable source of water and thus could not be vigorously engaged in tree planting exercises.
Generally the majority of the participants understand the changes that have taken place in their environment but needed help to relate human activities to such environmental changes.