At this year’s World Environment Day, some of our employees at the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project put down their tools and left the offices to commemorate the day with the community at Kamtonga, a small village located in Mwatate about 50 kilometers from our station. Those who attended the event included the head community Relations Officer, Mr. Laurian Lenjo, Mrs. Emily Mwawasi and Joseph Mwakima (both working in community relations), and the agribusiness manager, Mr. George Maina.
From the moment we arrived in Kamtonga, it was very clear that we could not have chosen a better place to commemorate the 2014 World Environment Day. The Mwatate community has been one of our major partners in the implementation of Phase II of the REDD programme, and we found an eager audience waiting to mark the day that was themed, Raise your Voices Not the Sea Levels. Young school pupils and aged grandparents sat side by side with the youth.
As with every other occasion we have to interact with the community around us, we took the opportunity to pass on the conservation message that we have been preaching since we started operations in the Kasigau region 17 years ago. The theme for this event was to educate the audience about rising sea levels.
From the puzzled look on many faces, it was clear that not many had heard about the rising sea levels but when one of the speakers mentioned the possibility of Mombasa being submerged in the next 20 years, any lingering doubts started to vanish.
Joseph Mwakima gave a concise explanation of the rising sea levels phenomena to an audience that was very eager to listen. Laurian backed it up by explaining how everyone has a role to play in ensuring that we mitigate such an occurrence. Other speakers also echoed the same concerns.
Some of the other issues that were addressed at the event included the persistent issue of child labor in Kamtonga which draws the majority of its income from sisal farming, mining of precious stones and other supporting businesses. Pupils from the Kamtonga Primary School recited heartrending poems about how their peers are vulnerably recruited into the mines and sisal plantations and end up dropping out of school. Our community outreach team members have been doing in-school outreach campaigns to educate students on their rights. Several government administrators, including the town’s chief have made promises to crackdown on any businessperson who were found abusing children’s rights.
After these important discussions, everyone armed themselves with latex gloves and joined in a communal cleanup of the small Kamtonga town. Plastic bottles and bags that littered the town were collected for appropriate disposal.
The event hit a climax with the planting of more than 100 trees in Kamtonga Primary School. The Wildlife Works greenhouse supplied all the tree seedlings for free. 30 trees were planted by the various guests in attendance and assigned to pupils who will be taking care of them. 70 tree saplings were left to be planted by the pupils and teachers later on. We have already received confirmation from the headmaster that the remaining seventy trees have been planted and are thriving!
We are grateful for the Kamtonga Community for hosting us during this special day and for giving us an audience. If we can all take action now, we can effectively mitigate the effects of climate change. It all starts with you and me, and the Kamtonga community!