Monday, September 28, 2009

The UN's Billion Tree Campaign

The UN’s Billion Tree Campaign hit its 7 billion target a few weeks ago. This is a feat that has been reached way before the end of the year 2009.The UNEP shared this information to all the campaign participants worldwide. Cosmos Education Kenya is proud to be associated with this great success. Please see the press release below.

UN’s Billion Tree Campaign Hits its Seven Billion Goal Target!!!

Global Climate Change Initiative Inspires Millions in Run-up to Crucial Copenhagen Conference

New York/Nairobi, 21 September 2009 –
The global public’s desire to see action on climate change was clearly spotlighted today with the announcement that the Billion Tree Campaign has reached 7 billion trees—this translating to one for every person on the planet.

Over the past three years millions of people ranging from scouts to presidents and from schoolchildren to city dwellers and corporate heads have been rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty for the environment through tree planting.

Today’s milestone was reached with the news that the Government of China has planted 2.6 billion trees as part of this unique campaign, bringing the total to 7.3 billion trees planted in 167 countries worldwide.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “Seven billion trees, seven billion commitments to action and seven billion reasons why governments should be inspired to Seal the Deal at the crucial UN climate change convention meeting in Copenhagen in less than 80 days’ time.”

“When this campaign was launched in 2006, there were those who said it could not be done. But day after day and week after week, people have got out into their gardens, parks and cities and into the countryside and the rural areas to prove the doubters wrong,” he added.

“Above all the Billion Tree Campaign shows that the simple act of planting a tree resonates and unites the child in the slums of Africa with a president in Mexico, or a corporate CEO in Paris with UN peacekeepers in Timor-Leste. It is the kind of solidarity that now needs to be expressed at the level of all governments and heads of state between now and December in order to move economies towards a low carbon, sustainable path,” said Mr Steiner.

The Billion Tree Campaign was launched jointly with the World Agroforestry Centre during the UN climate convention meeting in November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Its initial goal was to catalyze the pledging and the planting of one billion trees as a way of giving public expression to the challenges of climate change and also forest and ecosystem degradation.

Since then the Billion Tree Campaign has more than surpassed its aims, evolving into a true ‘People’s Campaign’ – more than half (52 per cent) of all the participants are private individuals.

Furthermore, tree planting has become both an inter-faith and an inter-generational activity, with the trees symbolizing connections between children and parents and bringing together people from different religious backgrounds.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement and the campaign’s co-patron, said: “Let’s plant even more trees to celebrate this wonderful achievement, the fruit of collective action from people all over the planet. By making the Billion Tree Campaign such an incredible success, people from every continent are calling their governments to truly start caring for the planet and to find unity in the fight against climate change.”

His Serene Highness Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and the campaign's co-patron, said: “I have always had a strong belief in the symbolic strength of the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign and I am delighted that it has exceeded our greatest expectations, far beyond the welfare linked to replanting trees, to benefit future generations.”

Highlights of the Billion Tree Campaign:

In the past eight months China planted 6.1 billion trees, of which 2.6 billion have been given to the Billion Tree Campaign. With the announcement of these 2.6 additional billion trees, the grand total number of trees planted for the campaign stands at 7.3 billion as of 21 September. The government planted 260 different species of trees in eleven provinces around China, from Inner Mongolia to Yunnan and from Shandong to Sichuan.

The announcement was made in New York on 21 September at a press conference attended by international dignitaries, including Campaign Patrons Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert II of Monaco, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, China’s Minister of the State Forestry Administration Jia Zhibang, and Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives. The announcement coincided with Global Climate Week, an event launched to mobilize global mass action around the UN high-level event on climate change – including the Global Tree Planting Drive on19 September where people were encouraged to plant trees on every corner of the planet.

A number of other countries around the world have planted impressive numbers of trees since the campaign was launched. Countries that have planted more than a hundred million trees range from Ethiopia (with 1.4 billion trees) and Turkey (711 million trees) to Mexico (with 537 million trees) and countries including Kenya, Cuba, and Indonesia.

In addition to bringing governments to take concrete action to reforest their lands, the Billion Tree Campaign has succeeded in catalyzing tree planting from all walks of society, bringing together creative, original and pioneering initiatives around the world.

To name a few, the Replant New Orleans Initiative sponsored a planting of fruit trees to help breathe new life into a community struggling with the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina; the Greening Soweto Campaign is transforming dustbowls into treed lanes in Soweto by capitalizing on South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; and 132 children in 56 countries have pledged to plant a total of one million trees as part of the ‘Stop talking, Start planting’ campaign, which was started by an eleven-year-old boy.

The economic gains of tree planting are powerfully illustrated by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative. As well as being close to planting 38 million trees in the Appalachian region, the North American organization has also devised a green job tree planting proposal to stimulate the economy of Appalachia and reap the ecological benefits of a region-wide reforestation effort.
In addition, the Campaign has mobilized groups and individuals in post-conflict areas around the world, bringing the seeds of hope to communities in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Liberia and Somalia among others.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has planted 9 million trees in and around refugee camps around the globe, helping to plant hundreds of thousands of acres of trees in Asia and Africa since the 1990s.
The United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Field Support (DFS) have also participated in the campaign, with thirteen peacekeeping missions having pledged 117,848 trees. Of this number 33,184 trees have already taken root across various countries hosting peacekeeping missions. The campaign, which encouraged the planting of indigenous trees appropriate to the local environments, has not only witnessed the participation and enthusiasm of UN staff, but also of the local communities in the different areas of operation.

The private sector has become a key player in the global campaign, accounting for almost 15 per cent of all the trees planted. Multinationals from Accor to Bayer and from Toyota to Coca-Cola East and Central Africa and Yves Rocher have been active tree planters, along with hundreds of small and medium-sized companies the world over.

The campaign’s universal appeal is clear from its success on social networking sites, with some 4,000 blogs adopting the cause early in the campaign.

Proving true its motto that ‘Every tree counts, and we count every tree’, the Billion Tree Campaign’s phenomenal success is as a result of the participation of people of all walks of life and from every corner of the planet.

The campaign continues..!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


On a chilly Thursday afternoon, Cosmos Education Kenya, as goes our motto, took up another daunting task of inspiring, engaging and empowering the secondary school going youth in Mcedo, Mathare, under our Nyota Professional Insights program. This was particularly important meet given that it was the last opportunity for the form four candidates to have a professional talk, get advice on the possibilities available for them before they sit for their last exams.

Although given in a short notice, two speakers were available for the function; Ben Kariuki and Dickson Orina, popularly know to the Mcedo community as Kiroboto. Ben facilitated the occasion with Dickson giving a very spending heartfelt talk on careers and study skills.

About fifty students were present for the function, and one of their teachers, Mr. Benedict who introduced the already well know Cosmos brad to the children. The talk ranged from career choices available for the candidates, study skills and important things in life that a secondary school youth should know. We aimed at taking this challenge to let the children be more aware of what awaits them after they are through with their final exams.

I was a very successful talk with the student asking one too many questions about the things they were taught, things that bothered them; basically a show of great enthusiasm from young learners. This was a clear indication of lessons well taught, and a youth that that is eagerly waiting to take up responsibility and become the future guardians of their own lives. Talk about the youth being the key to development of the world.

Overall assessment is that more of such talks need to be done, inspiration is quite missing in our students and Cosmos, being in the forefront of not just inspiring but also egaging and empowering the youth, we are taking this role full force because we believe in science education for the development of the world!

Kariuki Bernard

Thursday, September 3, 2009


On the 1st of August 2009, the 2004 Nobel peace prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt movement made an impassioned plea to the Kenyan public for immediate action to save the forests, wetlands, marshlands, swamps. This was owing to the fact that Kenya’s forest cover has decline to less than 2% since independence and continues to decline. In particular the country’s water tower, the Mau forest is rapidly being depleted and is close to the point of no return. Youth groups, conservationists, Non Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations and the general public were all invited to take part in a tree planting the event at Spring Valley, North West of the city. As key sustainable development campaigners Cosmos Education Kenya has had a close relationship with the Green Belt Movement and was among the invited organizations.

Prof' Maathai giving the opening speech moments before the campaing launch

The event began at 9.00 am with a welcome note from Prof Wangari Maathai opened. Her welcome note focused on the need to protect water catchment areas. She decried the rampant destruction of water catchment areas mainly due to human settlements; deforestation and land grabbing actions which she noted led to rainfall decrease rendering the arable lands unproductive. She also noted that the pastoralist communities living in the eastern lowlands were severely hit by inadequate pastures for their livestock.

Two of the CE Kenya representatives (Eva dnd Perez) listening to the speech

To kick off the event she officially launched the campaign which is supposed to run for the next 1 year. The campaign will see all the grabbed forest reserves being reclaimed and new trees planted. All the wetlands are also going to be reclaimed and fenced off in order to keep encroachers at bay. There are a total of 7 sites around the Nairobi region that are earmarked for the rejuvenation. The community based organizations will help to maintain the seedlings as well as educating the masses the need to protect the wetlands.

Proud to be an enthuthiastic conservator!

As the planting commenced, tens of seedlings were planted but within a short period. The CEK was represented by 4 members who helped to plant a sizeable number of trees.
The event was momentarily disrupted by a group protesting ear marked demolition of residential property that had been built on a protected area. The situation was however quickly resolved by the District Commissioner who arrived shortly with a consignment of riot police to restore calm.

Members of one of the groups during the event.

The event was closed by the assistant director of Green Belt Movement Prof. Karanja who addressed the public at the site. He thanked the attendees for their good work and urged them to continue. He reiterated the need to have concerted efforts in environmental conservation education at all levels. He added that the current prolonged draught plus the rampant crop failures in the farms was all as a result of the massive destruction of water catchment areas.
A good was..!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Career mentorship and motivation session at St Johns High School on the 7th of July 2009

On the 7th of July 2009 Cosmos education Kenya made a visit to St. Johns high school under the Nyota profeesional insights programme. St. Johns High School is a Low income school in the Pumwani region of Nairobi. The school is partly supported by the Anglican church of Kenya and mostly caters for needy students around the Pumwani and Eastleigh areas.

On this day we were introducing the program to form one and two students who had not participated in the program previously. Bridgit Syombua, Carol Muli and Amina Issa represented CEK on this day.

Mr. Naftaly Githaka was the mentor and speaker of the day. Mr Githaka is a program specialist in genomics at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).He holds a BSC in Biochemistry from the University of Nairobi, Master of Science degree in Animal Parasitology from Jommo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and is currently enrolled for a PhD at the Hokkaido University in Japan. In addition to this he has over 6 years experience in molecular biology.

Mr Githaka with a group of students at st Johns high school

Despite his vast experience and long list of qualifications, there was little talk on molecular biology as Mr. Githaka focused his attention on motivating the students. Carol introduced the team and welcomed Bridgit to make a brief presentation about CEK and our three golden rules which are.

  • Rule 1. Slow Down.
  • Rule 2.Ask questions.
  • Rule 3 Have Fun.

Amina then welcomed Mr. Githaka who started by telling the students about his poor background. The students were visibly shocked when he informed them that his first school was in a very remote area with no formal structures so they had their classes under a tree. He had been inspired when he was still in school through a talk given by a university graduate and he vowed to himself that he would make it to university. Mr. Githaka emphasized to the students the power of self declaration. He told the students that one did not need to come from a wealthy family in order to make it in life.

Coming from a science career he stressed on the fact that science based subjects are not hard and all that was needed was concentration and determination. Major pointers in his talk included:-

  • Urging the students to read widely.
  • Emphasizing the need to write down their goals.
  • Reminded the students to constantly talk about their dreams and aspirations.

After his presentation there was the Q&A session which depicted the enthusiasm among the students who felt inspired and empowered.

The session ended with each student writting down their goals and making a promise to widen their scope of reading material. Bridgit gave a vote of thanks and the team left the school, with a promise to return in the next school term with another mentor.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Valentines Day Trees4Love Event

The message in the placard is simple, clear and upto the point as far as the agenda of the day was concerned....................................Planting Trees..!!!

Despite this day being the lovers’ day, more than 1000 volunteers assembled in Karura Forest to commemorate the day by way of planting trees. Karura is one of the Nairobi environs carbon sink. The other carbon sink is in Ngong forest situated in the south-western part of the city. Tens of organizations were invited to attend the occasion. Cosmos Education Kenya was among the invited organizations that have been working closely with the Green Belt Movement and the UNEP since the launch of the Billion Tree Campaign/Plant for the Planet campaign. Trees4Love is the title UNEP chose for its Valentine's Day celebration; encouraging people to give their loved ones, on that special day, something more than a flower, a tree. The truth is that "While a flower withers away fairly soon, a tree is something that lasts; you nurture it and watch it grow. It is the ultimate symbol of everlasting love."

CEK Vice President Peter Kanja performs a joint tree planting with Kiss 100 Radio presenter Ms. Carol Radul.

Over Two thousand indigenous trees were planted in Nairobi's Karura forest, yesterday, by over one thousand nature-lovers, in a bid to make this year's Valentine's Day one of the greenest in Kenya's history. Most of the tree types planted are drought resistant while others need just a little amount of water to survive. The humus filled red volcanic soil in the venue will enable the seedlings to have a fast growth, under the care of the Kenya Forestry Service staff. Launched in 2006, the Billion Tree Campaign has catalyzed the planting of 2.6 billion trees around the world. According to the UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Angela Cropper, the gap between the pledged trees and the planted ones is quite wide and needs to be bridged. She also reiterated that the gap between the planted trees and the ones that survive is also a bit wide and urgently needs to be put under strict check. She added that the trees will help to combat the deforestation, with the UNEPs’ recent set goal of planting 7 billion trees - one per inhabitant of the planet - by the end of 2009.

CEK member Eva Gachuhi joins Cyrus and Vincent from the Green Warriors Youth group in planting a seedling.

The forests (Karura & Ngong) helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon emissions from the thriving Nairobi capital and its over three million inhabitants. They are also important water catchment areas for the Nairobi river-basin. Karura has also been a traditional site of the “Kihara Clan” indigenous people, who consider the forest a sacred land. They have lived for ages at the northern outskirt of the forest. They depend on the sweet wild fruits that they gather from the forest while collecting firewood from dry logs and twigs. In 2007, the UNEP was given the green light by the government to help reforest a total of 110 hectares of land in Karura and Ngong forests. These vast expansions had suffered from increased deforestation due to unsustainable activities, including illegal urban development. From then on, tree planting activities have been carried out more oftenly championed by the partnership of UNEP & Green Belt Movement with the help of youth organizations, companies, colleges, community based Organizations and government and private institutions
The Wildlife Club of Kenyatta University pose for a group photo

CEK team was led by Kanja Peter the Vice President. The members present included Eva Gachuhi, Lizbeth Mate and William Kimani. Billy Lombe represented CE Zambia. The members of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment had turned out significantly led by H.E. Rejoice Mabudafhas: co-chair of the Network of Women Ministers & leaders for environment & Deputy Minister of Environment & Tourism, South Africa. She also made a solo effort in planting a healthy croton seedling for the day’s commemoration which she dedicated to all the people who had turned up for the event.
Her.Exelency. Rejoice Mabudafhas: co-chair of the Network of Women Ministers & leaders for Environment & Deputy Minister of Environment & Tourism, South Africa planting a tree during the event.
As the planting continued, a 5 feet long snake emerged from a hole underneath a grassy area. The volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross society were planting their seedlings when one of the stumbled on the reptile and run for her dear life shouting at the top of her voice. Within no time, a crowd of people surrounded the snake albeit keeping a distance. The journalists jostled for positions to take photos before the members from the Youth for Animal Welfare moved it away and took it to a thicket far away from the crowd of people who wanted to kill it. It was evident that the reptile had had a meal earlier on in the day, resulting to demobilization. This made it easier for people to take photos.

The 5 feet long snake that emerged from a hole.

The watering of the newly planted trees is an activity that was done by the students from the universities that included, Kenyatta University, Nairobi University, Egerton University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology. The watering was very essesntial for the plants since the day was sunny. The KFS had availed several tunkers to bring enough water from the nearby river. The site preparation including clearing the invasive Lantana Camara vegetation and digging of the holes was carried out by the nearby comunity through a partnership with KFS (Kenya Forestry Service) and the Red Cross Society.

During the planting session, several organizations joined hands and planted trees for commemoration. In this case, CEK was not left behind and managed to join hands with 4 different groups i.e. Barclays bank, Athi River Mining Company, Green Warriors Youth Group and Kenyatta University Wildlife Club. We also had a joint planting with the Kiss 100 Radio and Radio Jambo Media houses staff members.

CEK members joins the Kiss 100 Radio and radio Jambo presenters in a group photo after jointly planting a Ficus Indica tree seedling.

As the event came to a close at 5pm, the site looked beautiful with the seedlings looking determined to grow tall, healthy and ready to multiply. For the CEK, the event marked another successful day of a noble activity. Before the departure, the CEK held a short meeting with Ms. Leah Wanambwa, a Consultant at the UNEPs’ Division of Communication & Public Information (DCPI) where various issues were discussed. Leah took the opportunity to thank the CEK for the attendance and a job well done. She singled out the good relationship between the two organizations and requested for more cooperation in many other environmental events lined up in the UNEPS’ calendar.

"Yes We Can....!" was my answer to her request.

Please log on to the link below for more pictures from this event.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cosmos Education Kenya

Happy New Year,
I hope this finds you in good health.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for having taken an interest in Cosmos Education Kenya in the year 2008. A great deal was achieved in that year all of which would not have been possible without your contribution.

2008 will go down in history as one the most challenging years in Kenya . It was a year, when old feuds were brought to the surface after a bitterly contested election that to this day is a thorn to the Kenya’s economy.

CEK activities were also greatly hampered by the ensuing political instability; we however rose to the task and continued in our quest of Inspiring Engaging and empowering leaders in waiting – the youth - in the quest for sustainable development. We began the first term with a visit to two camps which were host to the internally displaced people who had lost or fled from their homes owing to the post election violence that rocked the country. The two Camps: - Mathare chief’s camp and Muthaiga Police Depot were host to families from the sprawling Mathare slum and the informal settlements at the Huruma area in Nairobi .

At these camps we held two sessions with the children and young adults hosted there. Besides our usual modules aimed at engaging the students, the volunteers also took on the role of peer counselors. We then had had short informal sessions with the students who had been traumatized by the chaos.

From the internally displaced camps the next Stop was Yatta District more specifically Kalukuni secondary school. This time we partnered with Computers for Schools Kenya, a non profit organization supporting IT in institutions within Kenya . At Kalukuni CEK presented a donation of 10 computers to the school. This was followed by a brief session where the volunteers went on to motivate and inspire the 197 students at Kalukuni secondary school. This event was made possible with support from Lloyds TBS, Scottish Council for Voluntary organizations and Peace Child International.

CEK volunteers and Kalukuni secondary school students outside the computer lab after the presentation

Term three of year 2008 saw us welcome our partner branch Cosmos Education US and their partners from NASA, JPL and University of Southern Maine . This was for a research and outreach programme. A series of field trips and school visits were carried out in this period. This was an opportunity for the students and CEK volunteers to learn about research and get to participate first hand in a research expedition.

As has been the norm for the past few years, CEK activities for the year came to a close with a member’s activity and the Annual General meeting. At the annual general meeting a new executive board was elected. The following were elected to serve CEK executive committee for the year 2009

  • President – Dr. Bridgit Muasa

  • Vice President - Mr. Peter Kanja

  • Treasurer – Dr. Evalyn Mwihia

  • Secretary – Miss Carol Muli

  • Director of Education – Mr Ben Kariuki

  • Executive Director – Mr. Isaac Musyoka (appointed)

The new executive committee took up office soon after and will be in charge of managing CEK for the next one year.

As we welcome 2009, I would also like to invite you to participate in the activities scheduled for this year. In 2009 we plan to continue with our career and motivation programme, Nyota professional insights. We also plan to continue engaging and encouraging critical thinking and team work amongst the student with our “Chemsha Bongo” Engineering challenges. In April and August we also plan to hold Holiday science camps within the country. We also plan to schedule outreach programmes and field visits with the term to various locations.

Below is a list of the programmes that we intend to carry out in 2009

Nyota professional insights programme: This is a career and motivation programme that facilitates interaction between students and respected members of the Society who have excelled in their fields of expertise. Under this programme CEK, the students and the school’s career guidance teacher identify topics and issues that are relevant to the students needs. CEK then identifies suitable mentors and facilitate the session

Chemsha Bongo engineering challenges: This is an interactive session where the students are engaged in various challenges. To solve these challenges the students are required to think critically and work as team. During these sessions CEK volunteers organize challenges with affordable and readily available materials. In these sessions the volunteers present the challenge, provide the materials and set the rules and the time period, the rest is left to the student’s discretion. The tasks are designed to require collection effort thereby instilling team work.

Holiday science camp (HSC): These camps were designed as an upgrade to the Under African skies programme. With the holiday science camp CEK invites four to seven schools to converge in one location for a week long science camp. During the camp we conduct a series of engaging and fun experiments incorporating material that the students learnt in the past semester and adding new materials. This way the students are able to put into practical use knowledge gained in class as well as learn new things. This programme enables us to reach a larger audience and also allows us to spend quality time with the students allowing us to empower them more. This programme also caters for the insufficient practical exposure that the students lack owing to financial constraints. The schools we target are often low income schools that do not have the finances to provide sufficient practical exposure within their curriculum.

Kalukuni secondary school visit: We plan to visit this school in February 2009.This will be a follow up visit 6 months after we donated computers to the school. During this visit we plan to evaluate the benefit of our donation to the school. We plan to have a session where the students will have an opportunity to show case to CEK what they have learnt this far and of what benefit the computers have been to them. We will also have an interactive session where will engage the students in hands on experiments.

Uvumbuzi club: This is derived from the Swahili word Vumbua which has the broad meaning of: bring to light, explore, invent and discover. Uvumbuzi club is a new project that we plan to launch this year. Under this programme we plan to partner the secondary schools in our network with a group of undergraduate students from different faculties. The undergraduate students will then work with the students on various tasks through out the school term. The aim will be to expose the secondary school students to various fields and cultivate interest in the students to pursue higher education.

I would like to invite you all to support us in our activities this year. To support a CEK programme please visit our website for details

To conclude, on behalf of CEK I would like to thank you once more for being part of this great movement and we believe with your help we can reach out to more young people in Kenya .

I would especially like to acknowledge the support of the following Organisations

  • Cosmos Education UK

  • Cosmos Education USA

  • Cosmos Education Zambia

  • Scottish Council for Voluntary Organizations

  • Peace Child International

  • Lloyds TBS

  • Computers for Schools Kenya

  • JPL

  • NASA

  • University of Southern Maine

  • Mama na Dada

I would also like to thank all school heads,teachers and students and all other CEK supporters.

Happy New Year!

Warm regards,

Bridgit Muasa
President ,
Cosmos Education Kenya