Kusi Ideas: Experts urge communities to be part of climate change innovations

Kusi Festival

Nation Media Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro (left), Clifford Machoka-Head of external affairs and CEO Stephen Gitagama (right) welcome USA Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman during Kusi Ideas Festival on December 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru I Nation Media Group

Climate change experts have said that solutions to climate change will be best driven by communities that are at the heart of experiencing effects of climate change.

Speaking at Kusi Ideas Festival at Karura forest, where climate champions gathered to share ideas, Ms Alice Ruhweza- Africa Region Director WWF International championed the ability of communities to innovate, while focusing on nature-based solutions. 

"Nature based solutions account for 37 per cent of the solution. we must determine what we must do to combat climate change. adaptability, financial sustainability and most crucially, nature based solutions can help with this,"said Ms Ruhweza.

These solutions, explained Dr Patrick Omeja- Field Manager Makerere University Biological Field Station, include solutions to reduce carbon from the atmosphere.

In Uganda, he said, communities manufacture briquettes from weeds as well as plant trees to ensure that carbon is not released to the atmosphere, and that the existing carbon is reduced.

Kusi Ideas

Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama give his remarks at Kusi Ideas Festival on December 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat I Nation Media Group

"We keep weeds and turn them ino briquettes rather than chopping and throwing them away. This benefits the community since they can survive off the weeds that are growing nearby,"explained Dr Omeja.

"They give value for money, and helps us get rid of the weeds. It is practises on a small scale now, but we plan to expand the initiative,""he added. 

Professor Mbaabu-Chief Executive Officer of Green Blue Africa Foundation explains that the foundation has largely involved communities in kenya around Ngong forest to rehabilitate degraded environments, by tree planting and curbing soil erosion.

By implementing an initiative called the one square meter project, they ask friends, families and willing environmentalists to adopt several square meters of arid lands by donating about sh300 per square meter. 

"We are talking about recovering 1.67 billion hectares with our rehabilitation of the deteriorated environment. we are interconnected to the earth, consequently, we must alter our perspective through unlearning things in order to learn," he said.

Kusi Festivals

Karen Wanjiru-Founder of Green Generation Initiative, Climate Leader, Wangari Maathai at Kusi Ideas Festivals.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat I Nation Media Group

Speaking about the impact of technology in releasing greenhouse emissions, Yvonne Nyokabi-Climate change Specialist from UNDP Kenya, explained that while technology enhances human life, it has also historically contributed to climate change by releasing greenhouse emissions. now, the same technology must reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions and build resilience of communities to climate change.

Enabling environment 

UNDP has supported government to create an enabling environment so that technologies can find their ways into this country.

"We want to intriducce technolgies that reuce water cists which is good for climate change. but if there are prohibitive policies, those technologies never get into the country,"said Nyokabi.

Kusi Festivals

From left Jacob's Ladder Africa Co-Founder Bilha Ndirangu, Green Generation Initiative Founder Karen Wanjiru, Climate Justice Organiser Eric Njuguna, Girls4climate Action Co- Founder Joanita Babiry and Green Generation Initiative Founder Elizabeth Wathuti.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru I Nation Media Group

The experts called on communities to continue planting trees, and to take up special initiatives, such as as planting trees to celebrate birthdays and special days.

"For most people, tree growing is not a core business, but for us, we like to plant trees because we have enough space, which is as a result of partnerships with the government. let's plant trees for ourselves and nature. After all we are part of nature,"said Professor Mbaabu.

Everyone has a role to play. Let us engage our society, citizens and government. But most importantly, let us remember that our solutions are local," finalised Ms Ruhwazi.