Nairobi, 18 January 2016: Kenya faces diverse sustainability challenges such as climate change, degraded ecosystems, poor health, waterborne diseases, and poor waste management. Unsuitable consumption patterns and limited environmental awareness are compounding the problem. There is, therefore, an increased need for capacity development, environmental awareness, and information exchange to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens capable of positive action.
The World Student Community for Sustainable Development (WSCSD-Kenya) is one youth group that has taken up this challenge. Led by Nickson Otieno, an architect passionate about providing sustainable solutions in the man-made and natural environment, the group has embraced two ecosystem initiatives – Adopt-a-river and Adopt-a-forest. The idea is to mobilize and engage students to conserve and restore water and forest ecosystems within and around their universities, contributing to a clean and healthy environment, in line with Article 42 of the Kenyan Constitution.
The Adopt-a-River initiative seeks to empower young people and communities to participate in river monitoring and restoration. Using citizen science, students and youth collect and identify aquatic macro-invertebrates which act as bio-indicators, and score them on the miniSASS app. The mobile app then scores the general river health and water quality in that river. Already piloted at multiple points along the Nairobi River, the information gathered guides youth, communities, authorities and policymakers in identifying sources of pollution, and put in place appropriate interventions to restore and conserve rivers.