Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Environment Day Celebration - Tree Planting at Nairobi National Park Twiga Gate 5.6.10

Nairobi National Park Background;
The Nairobi National Park was the first park to be gazetted in 1946. This was done in order to curb the then poaching problem. It is Kenya’s and East Africa’s oldest crown. It is famed for the world famous endangered Black Rhino population. The other major wildlife attractions found in the world only “city neibouring park” include; the lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands, and a diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. Other beautiful and memorable attractions include the Ivory Burning Site Monument, the Nairobi Safari Walk, the Animal Orphanage and the beautiful nature walking trails at the Hippo Pools. There is also the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust situated at the Nairobi National Park Workshop Gate along Magadi Road.

The Event;

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in conjunction with the Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) and other like-minded partners including, NGOs’ Youth Groups, Church Organizations, Government Agencies etc, embarked on a tree planting exercise at the Nairobi National Park on Saturday June 5, 2010. Cosmos Education Kenya was among the tens of organizations that graced the occasion. The event coincided with the World Environment Day which was being celebrated. The KWS seized the opportunity and held the tree planting session as part of an ongoing conservation initiative dubbed the “Nairobi GreenLine Project”.

These are some of the advertisement placards used to sensitize the public about the event;

The Sh35 million project aims to plant 250,000 trees of indigenous species from the park’s Cheetah Gate in Athi River to the Carnivore Restaurant along Lang’ata Road. This will create a 30-km long, 50-metre wide forest to shield the park from the fast-growing metropolis. The event successfully culminated in the formation of a 3500, 7Km strong human greenline chain stretching along the park’s edge from the Twiga Public Campsite Gate.

The Twiga Public campsite Signpost

The park’s delicate ecosystem has over the years been exposed to massive environmental risks due to human settlements and other activities. This in turn has increased the human wildlife conflict over the years. The animal migration corridors have been encroached making it difficult for animals to migrate from the park to the lower legion parks especially the Maasai Mara, Tsavo West and Serengeti in search for food, water and breeding. This has resulted to herbivores grazing at flower gardens in the nearby homes while lions have been spotted prowling the nearby settlements like the Onkata Lonkai and Kiserian. Tens of goats and several heads of cattle have been mauled by the jungle kings as well as the ever elusive leopards.

The 3500 strong human, 7Km Greenline chain

In order to put a stop to the above fatalities, there is a need to come-up with an effective strategy to protect the parks’ ecosystem, which provides the country with lots of economic and social benefits. In this regard, money will be needed to cover the cost of trenching, soil preparation, fencing, sinking of boreholes, piping, planting of more tree nurseries, seedlings irrigation, seedling transportation and any other manual labour. The fencing will deter the locals from grazing into the conservation area hence protecting their animals from the carnivores and giving the seedlings a good chance to grow well and healthy. More encroachment in form of illegal structures and dumping will be terminated forthwith.

Some of the environment conservation enthusiasts’ get their hands dirty during the tree planting event;

As the event went on, the Forestry and Wildlife Assistant Minister, Hon. Josphat Nanok, thanked the various partners for taking a leading role in an initiative that will be vital in managing and conserving our environment. He cited the effects of climate change as a major challenge which is are here with us and, therefore protecting our environment for future generations is vital.

Some of the “ready” tree seedlings in the nursery at the park

At the same time, the KWS Director, Dr Julius Kipng’etich, said rising incidents of pollution to the park, human encroachment and human-wildlife conflict will soon be a thing of the past with the launch of the GreenLine project. He added that the organization intends to make the park a major tourist attraction by allowing travelers on transit to visit the park as they await connection flights. Luckily, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is just a stone throw away from the park. This makes it easier for the travelers to enter the park, tour and then get back to the airport well in time for their freights. This he said, will enable the organization to raise more funds that will be used to implement more animal friendly projects in line with the vibrant conservation efforts by KWS and partners.

The electric fence that will restrict more human encroatchment

Speaking at the event, the GreenLine Steering Committee Chairman, Mr. Anoop Shah lauded the various partners, volunteers and stakeholders for their unreserved support in making this project a success. He added “The drawing of this line symbolizes the start of a long journey expected to go a long way in protecting and conserving this vital ecosystem for posterity“. Water will gradually increase in the watering holes and dams while the streams in the park will also experience some increase. Animals will not have to stray out of the park in search of water due to the availability. This will reduce the number of animal deaths and in turn increase their population. The elands’ population has been in the decrease over the years due to lack of enough pasture. The dry weather condition that had rocked the park in the last 2 years dealt a big blow to many herbivores.

The media personnel conducted some “on-site” interviews at the event

As the event came to a close, over 5000 seedlings of different indigenous tree species were successfully planted. The nurturing of the newly planted seedlings will be done by a special team that will monitor their growth and well being on daily basis. More planting sessions will be held as soon as the short rains season starts in late September.

Kanja (right) with Mr. Lagat of ESACO environmental Group and Ms Sharon Lucas of Standard Newspapers limited pose for a photo after the planting event.

Cosmos Education Kenya will be among the teams which will be continuing with the planting sessions. Other planting sessions will be held in various parts of the country. Public places slated for vigorous tree planting events include, Ngong Forest, Karura Forest, the Nairobi Arboretum, the Resurrection Garden, Uhuru Gardens etc. Other places include the schools, road reserves, and along the river banks. Planting is also taking place in all the provinces and the local level, in line to recover the lost forest cover. The effects of the global warming is also another thing that is driving the vigorous planting.

My friend......plant plant plant… starts with you and its better done today…… NOW..!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


One year ago, CEK in partnership with Computer for Schools Kenya (CFSK) granted Kalukuni secondary school twenty computers for their Computer laboratory. The school had taken initiative of constructing a computer lab, but was unable to purchase the facilities to enable students to learn computer science. CEK and CFSK therefore came in to assist them acquire the computers. And so we did.

There is a common saying that if you want to help a villager, you don’t give them fish; instead, you teach him how to fish for himself. Well, as true as this may seem, I just learnt that the villager will most of the times know how to fish better. You don’t each him, because chances are they already know. You empower him! Give him fishing nets and hooks! And a boat too.

A year later; on November 7th 2009, CEK paid a follow up visit to the school, to monitor and evaluate the progress made so far by the school community in respect to the use of the computers.

The young enthusiastic students were very happy to have CEK pass all the schools along the long 300 kilometer stretch from Nairobi to Matuu; just to land on their school. This was extremely special to the whole school. It was amazing, for the second time round, to have a group of very young Kenyans with visionary ideas and the Globe’s prosperity at heart. Young scientists who are determined to see follow mankind make correct decisions for peace and tranquility of the nation, continent and the globe. Love and concern for the young students was outstanding; never heard of. The superstitious dogma spewed forth by the society has become the youths’ greatest enemy. To break ranks, we have to do something that has never been done before; and so we did.

The students were taught a myriad of processes; from computer programmes, career choice and preferences to study skills and motivation. They shared their dreams, ambitions and hopes. CEK did not fail to strengthen those believes in greatness, because we understand that they are, or sooner they become, the blueprints of our lives. Students were very happy to learn that whatever they dream of, can, after all, be achieved. This was in a practical way, in that they interacted with young people who have gone through the same path, and made it. Be it Doctors, veterinarians, journalists, Engineers, Economists etc. all were present, as young as they appeared, in flesh and blood. This is the essence of inspiration; Motivation into doing something realistic, something evident, the understanding that there are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic time frames.

The students were taught not to be afraid of taking big leaps or one big step forward, because you can’t cross a chasm in two small steps. And so the understood and believed. More importantly, put their minds into it and promised to work smart, till the day they see their dreams unveil!

CEK had a lot to learn as well. Great lessons, the most outstanding one being the “Water Key project” in Kalukuni secondary school. This is a technological masterpiece where a bore hole is computerized, pumping water only when a water key is inserted. This water key has to be loaded with credit, to be able to access water. Talk about young minds put to good use!

All in all, the school was seen to have made very commendable progress, and is one good example of empowered minds. CEK hopes to continue mentoring the school, and even take up other schools and implement such projects. This is a clear license to development of the world. Science education is the key!


Background of International Youth Day

The General Assembly on 17 December 1999 in its resolution 54/120, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

The Assembly recommended that public information activities be organized to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the General Assembly in 1995 (resolution 50/81).

This year’s (2009) International youth day was commemorated on the Wednesday, 12th of August. In line with our mandate as Cosmos Education Kenya, we took it upon ourselves to impact a young generation positively, as this is our core business; to inspire, engage and empower the youth through science education for the development of the world. We therefore chose to spend the subsequent weekend, (15th August) with the beloved Mcedo community.

This years theme was; sustainability: our challenge. Our future. This as explained to Mcedo students is a simple concept that every young member of the planet Earth ought to understand and be a part of. Sustainability does not only refer to maintaining environmental balance and renewal. Sustainability encapsulates three facets of life: the environment, society and the economy. We live our lives in the overlaps and intersections of these facets, and our actions and attitudes help shape them. Their changing shapes in turn affect the way we are able to live our lives. The negative effects of unsustainable behavior are not easily contained. As has been proven by the global crises in food, the economy and the environment, the concept of the global village has gone beyond being a useful analogy to being a hard reality, making clear the need to adopt a global sense of social responsibility.

Cosmos Education Kenya team members introducing themselves

With these things in mind, as the energizers of today and the holders of tomorrow, it is imperative that youth embrace the challenge of sustainability in its fullness as they help pave the way forward through the 21st century and beyond. Youth action, inclusion, and their full participation are key to developing today’s world for the generations of today and tomorrow and central to a sustainable existence.

The commemoration was a very successful day with at least one hundred Mcedo students and a few teachers. There a big team from Cosmos, who divided the students into several groups depending on their classes and age. This was after an overall presentation of DVDs about Climate change and Global sustainability. The students were very receptive and learnt a great deal, judging form the kind of responses and questions they were asking after the presentations.

Rule No. 2 in action : Asking questions!

In the groups, the students were given specific assignments and demonstrations to perform, among them the Green House effect demo, from which they learnt how green house gasses are trapped in Earths atmosphere, and how that results in ultimate heating up, or raising of temperatures on the surface of the Earth.

Ben Kariuki explaining the green house effect to the high school student's

Assignments were also issues, done and submitted with highest scoring students being awarded. This was a very clear motivation for the students.

Later on, after the learning experiences, the students, teachers and Cosmos Education Kenya planted trees and the schools compound to mark their commitment to taking an active role in sustaining our planet. The students took it upon themselves to take care of the seedlings until they grow, as a sign of their commitment.

Peter Kanja with class seven students planting trees at the MCEDO tree nursery

That was a day well spent, change initiated, and a difference made. A difference that, hopefully will trickle down to making the world a better place, and for everyone who took part, in being responsible as an individual, for sustaining our world.

ending the day with a little jig