Stories from around Kenya
WWF Honored at Premier Environmental Event
WWF Kenya got special recognition at the 2nd Green Innovations Award (GIA) gala night hosted by the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND).The GIA gala night took place on 9th September 2014 and was graced by H.E. The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta.
The event was attended by over 1,000 guests drawn from corporates, state organizations, development partners, and environmental enthusiasts. Among the guests was the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu; the Principal Secretary, State Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dr. Richard Lesiyampe; the Principal Secretary, State Department of Water, Mr. James Lopoyetum and Ms. Nardos Bekele- Thomas, the UNDP Kenya Resident Representative, among other guests.
The NETFUND GIA recognizes and rewards green initiatives that can be turned into businesses. During the Gala night, the NETFUND Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Catherine Ndegwa in her presentation, paid a glowing tribute to WWF for their partnership which in 2011, as the only partner, sponsored the first GIA, then referred to as the Nature Challenge Africa Competition. Ms. Ndegwa narrated how the overall winner of that event, Mr. Eric Muthomi, using the award funds, started a company called “Stawi Foods” (Stawi meaning prosperity in Swahili), and the company has empowered thousands of banana farmers by providing them with a means to generate income. Eric has since been listed by Forbes Magazine as one of Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs to watch.
This year’s winners were drawn from Small and Medium Enterprises, Community Based Organizations, Individuals, Green Villages, and Schools. Additional categories were the Energy and Water thematic areas. The theme for the 2014 event was ‘Fire and Ice’ which represented the water and energy thematic areas which were the focus of this year’s award cycle. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place innovations were awarded KES 1 Million, KES 500,000 and KES 250,000 respectively as seed money to up-scale their projects.
WWF supported NETFUND to develop GIA Guidelines, Award Policy and Manual, and to sponsor the winner of the Individual category.
WWF Launches the First Clean Energy Village in Kenya
WWF Kenya has launched the Clean Energy Village Initiative (CEVI) in Kwale County, which aims to address broader climate change, and energy footprint issues in the County. The initiative was launched on 18th September 2014 and is targeting communities and institutions to address their immediate energy access needs. This pilot initiative in Kwale is part of a 3-year project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), which will later be expanded to other villages and counties, and will focus on lighting, cooking and promotion of tree planting. The Guest of Honour was the Kwale County Executive in charge of Natural Resources, Lands and Mining. Others who graced the occasion included the Kwale County Commissioner and his Deputy, area Member of Parliament and Member of County Assembly, representatives from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forestry Service (KFS), BASE Titanium, Barefoot Power, representatives of Kaya Elders, officials of the Kaya Kinondo Financial Services Association (KFSA), community members and the WWF Kenya team led by the Country Director.Announcing the launch in Fihoni village, Kinondo sub-location, WWF Kenya Country Director called on the national and county governments, together with the private sector and civil society organisations to support the initiative and facilitate access to renewable energy solutions in Kwale County, since no single entity on its own can address all the energy and climate change related issues in the country. He added that The Clean Energy Village Initiative has been launched to address serious challenges that emerged from a rapid assessment conducted by WWF in three villages in Kwale County, and which revealed that an overwhelming majority (80%) depend on paraffin (or a combination of paraffin and firewood) for lighting and firewood as a source of cooking energy.
These fuels cause indoor air pollution leading to respiratory diseases and eye irritation. Furthermore, the paraffin lamps do not create conducive atmosphere for school going children to study in the evenings. The use of wood fuel has also led to massive deforestation. As a result, WWF Kenya has introduced solar lanterns for lighting with additional benefit of phone charging, and will later introduce appropriately designed energy saving cook stoves expected to reduce indoor air pollution, pressure on forests, and free time used in search of wood fuel. Tree planting is an important component of this initiative and WWF Kenya aims to achieve this through working with community conservation groups.
Since majority of the community members cannot afford to buy the lanterns at the counter, WWF Kenya is using a revolving fund approach in which the capital cost of acquiring the solar lanterns and energy saving cook stoves are met upfront from a revolving fund set up for this purpose and will be managed by a community owned village bank, the Kaya Kinondo Financial Services Association (KFSA). The Country Director announced that WWF Kenya has financed the revolving fund by providing solar lanterns worth Kshs 1,000,000 to be sold out by the village bank through a loan scheme and the proceeds go into the revolving fund. He added that for every solar lantern acquired by a community member or household WWF will provide one lantern for free for the first 300 lanterns sold.
Another sustainability aspect of CEVI is that WWF, in partnership with Barefoot Power, has facilitated training of 4 community youths as solar technicians to assist the solar lantern beneficiaries with simple repair and maintenance work and will continue to facilitate training of more technicians as need may arise and as the initiative expands.
New Partners for WWF Kenya's Energy Initiatives
WWF Kenya has entered into partnership with 10 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with the aim of enhancing the organizations mandates in provision of sustainable energy solutions, reducing the funding gaps, and sustaining the nation’s renewable energy infrastructure for the future.Access to affordable and clean energy is critical for realizing the sustainable natural resources management and WWF believes that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are key actors in influencing planning, decision-making, and good governance of renewable energy resources including their sustainable exploitation. The project aims at supporting initiatives that strengthen the organizational and programmatic capacity of partner CSOs in Kenya. This includes building their advocacy and institutional capacity and providing grants to effectively participate in policy analysis and influence, advocacy and dissemination of appropriate renewable energy technologies in Kenya. Subsequently, the overall goal is to have better management in their mandate to offer sustainable energy solutions to the community.
In order to engage effectively in sustainable energy governance, policy and advocacy, WWF Kenya commissioned a 2-weeks organizational capacity assessment process targeting 10 CSOs. The assessment exercise was carried out using the Civil Society Capacity Assessment Tool (CS-CAT) developed by WWF- Sweden. The assessment focused on the organisations’ internal capacities, external engagements, advocacy capacities as well as monitoring and evaluation capabilities.
A results-focused draft Capacity Development Strategy (CDS) was developed after a successful assessment exercise. This draft CDS was later validated in a workshop in Naivasha from 11th to 12th September 2014, and it brought together participants from the 10 partner CSOs. A final CDS is being prepared and is expected to help in positioning the targeted CSO to provide, promote, and protect the use of renewable energy resources in the energy sub-sector. The ten CSOs are Kenya Climate Change Working Group Association (KCCWG), Umande Trust, Improved Stoves Association of Kenya (ISAK), Association of Biogas Contractors of Kenya (ABC-K), Clean Cook Stoves Association of Kenya (CCAK), Kenya Renewable Energy Association (KEREA), Kenya Young Greens (KYG), Green Africa Foundation, Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF), Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC).
WWF's Clean Energy Initiative to be Upscaled to Other CountiesMost schools and homes in rural communities lack affordable access to power and this affects the length and quality of time that pupils in schools in these communities devote to studying. The expansive Kajiado County is one such good example. To this effect, WWF’s energy team made a visit to 8 remote off-grid schools in Kajiado to assess the possibility of providing solar lighting and improved cooking solutions for a select number of off grid schools so as to facilitate better teaching and learning in the schools.
The rapid assessment revealed that most primary schools had either started or were willing to start boarding facilities for classes 7 and 8 pupils but these efforts are hampered by lack of sustainable lighting solutions. At the same time, almost all the schools visited provide lunch to the pupils through the school feeding programme. Firewood is the only source of cooking energy for these schools despite its scarcity and the unsustainable manner in which it is used. The use of firewood has also added much pressure to the diminishing forest cover.
Kajiado County is endowed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year and it is expected that the deployment of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technology in the schools will enable both teachers and pupils to enjoy longer teaching and learning hours. In addition, the schools are expected to introduce and enhance their boarding sections through the use of solar lighting for the dormitories. At the same time, WWF Kenya will aim at introducing appropriately designed energy saving cook stoves in the schools which will lead to a reduction of indoor air pollution, reduced pressure on the fast diminishing forest covers, and free time used in search of wood fuel. The schools will also be expected to initiate tree planting projects to supply their own wood fuel, and to replenish the diminishing forest cover. WWF will also partner with several organizations in order to expand and sustain this initiative.