Author Archives: Environmental Journalist

Agroforestry gives Kenyan indigenous community a lifeline

Kongolel Masai Kangonyei a Sengwer and a coffee beneficiary

By Sophie Mbugua: WEST POKOT, Kenya — The Cherangani people, an indigenous community in Kenya’s Rift Valley, have always called the Cherangani Hills Forest their ancestral home.

Also known locally as the Sengwer, they were traditionally reliant on the forest for hunting and gathering, herbal medicines, honey, and sorghum and millet farming. Then the colonial government evicted them from the forest, only permitting them access to medicinal plants; gathering and hunting in the forest is still prohibited.

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Alternative Energy saving trees and Tea prodution costs

IMG_3954By Sophie Mbugua: Thika, Kenya: Tea is the most commonly consumed non-water beverage in the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that the world tea production – black, green, instant and others – increased by 4.4 percent annually over the last decade to reach 5.73 million tones in 2016.

A 2018 FAO report, projects an annual 2.2 percent black tea production rise over the next decade to reach 4.4 million tones in 2027. The significant output will increase in China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka – with China expected to achieve Kenya’s – the largest black tea exporter globally – output levels.

Kenya produced 40million kilograms of tea and exported 32Million Kilograms of tea in January 2018 according to the Kenya tea board. Read more

Disease causing Vector stings East Africa Staple.

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By Sophie Mbugua: Makueni, Kenya: In 2011 the Maize lethal Necrosis (MLN) a disease causing an estimated 30 percent total maize loss in farmers’ fields according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) first emerged in Kenya spreading to other parts of East Africa.

The disease caused by infections from the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and the Sugarcane Mosaic Virus, negatively impacted livelihoods and food security among farmers and families who consider maize a stable food while posing a threat to regional maize trade.

As noted by the East Africa Community Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, the disease that causes premature plant death, poorly formed maize cobs, can lead to up to 100 percent yield loss in farmers’ fields. Read more

Eco-crime Hits a Record High

ivory burning pile

As the world celebrates the World Environment Day, a rapid response report published Saturday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL estimates the value of environmental crime at 26 per cent higher than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion today compared to $70-213 billion in 2014.

The Rise of Environmental Crime, finds that weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.

According to the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, the vast sums of money generated from these crimes keep sophisticated international criminal gangs in business, and fuel insecurity around the world. Read more

Is the Paris Outcome a Panacea to global warming?

 

Indegenous people make demanding their rights  at the COP21

Indigenous people make demanding their rights  at the COP21

By Sophie Mbugua: Paris 12th Dec 2015 As we enter the homestretch of the Paris climate summit, coalitions have emerged between sections of developed countries, small islands states and the least developed countries (LDCs) blocs.

This  ambitious coalition made up of over 90 countries lead by the Marshal Island, coalesced to fight for an ambitious mechanism of 1.5 temperature goal.

In addition to the 1.5 degrees temperature target, they are calling for 5 year review of the soon to be signed Paris agreement, clear pathway for a low carbon future and a strong financial package for developing countries which includes $100bn per year.

Of interest is the attention the coalition is attracting among developed rich countries who were not keen to support the 1.5degree temperature goal initially fronted by the civil society organizations and the scientific community.

In 2010, the Cancun agreement agreed to limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. But in June 2015, a structured expert dialogue made up of more than 70 scientists, climate experts and negotiators concluded that this limit was inadequate and should only be used as an upper limit. Read more

Africa Announces 300GW Renewable Energy Intiative

IMG_8803By Sophie Mbugua: PARIS, Dec 02: African heads of state announced plans for a gigantic renewable energy initiative that would provide as much as 300gigawatts of renewable energy – twice the continent’s total current electricity supply – by 2030.

African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) driven by African countries announced at the start of the two-week United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, aims to achieve 10gigawatts of new renewable energy by 2020 and mobilize the potential to generate 300gigawatts by 2030.

“African countries have abundant renewable energy resources. This initiative can transform Africa’s energy systems, grow African economies and help improve energy access. Now this will power our future.” says Asrat Yirgu, WWF Africa’s Climate Change Coordinator

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A solar panel powering a borehole in Turkana, Northern Kenya.

This initiative represents Africa’s contribution to the global efforts on climate change and eliminating energy poverty. It will also help African nations embrace low-carbon development strategies while creating jobs, improving energy security and bringing clean, safe and affordable energy to the 640 million Africans who currently lack access to electricity. Read more

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