Monday, July 27, 2015

Uniting for the benefit of environment and community development

By Evalyne Nyambura
Most of the time it is always hard to find students who have a passion for environment and community development. Youths tend to shy away from environmental issues and voluntary work.
In Sipili Town of Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County, a group of youths are determined to reverse this trend. The youths have formed Green Mind Community Based Organization (CBO) with an aim of spearheading environmental conservation and protection.
Majority of the members are university students aged 20 years undertaking different undergraduate courses but what sets them aside from other youths is their shared passion for the environment.
Green Mind CBO was conceived during a unity purpose meeting by the students. They had come together to discuss how each of them can help to improve the livelihood of community members.
Some of the members during a mentorship program at Lariak Day Secondary

“We first came together for unity purposes and later on the idea of forming a CBO was mooted by some of the members with an aim of improving the livelihood of community members,” said Kennedy Wanjiru, Secretary Green Mind CBO.
Kennedy recalls that during most holidays he has been seeing the effect of climate change with most of the time his parents realizing low returns. This prompted him to think of ways of mitigation. Ol-Moran Ward has been receiving sparse rainfall due to the effect of climate change.
The members have been frequenting Ng’arua Maarifa Centre to do research and also to seek for advisory services. During one of the meetings the centre linked them with Sipili Community Forest Association (CFA) and Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA).
Kennedy who is third year student studying Environmental Science (Community Development) at Kenyatta University believes that the 23 member CBO, 17 male and 6 female can not only be a tool for change but can also empower communities for prosperity.
Initiatives being undertaken
Since its formation the CBO has been keen in greening schools, public institutions and community land. They have also been providing education on protection of sensitive ecosystems.
“We want to provide a forum, where members would give the community members social, economic and mental support wherever possible. This will go hand in hand in developing and upholding the best cultural, social and economic heritage of communities,” said Maina.
The organization has been able to plant at least one thousand trees in schools visited by the CBO’s mentorship program members. They have also been planting trees in member’s homesteads as well as community lands. This is towards supporting the County’s projected 10 percent forest cover. Through contributions, the members are able to raise funds to support these activities.
Some of the members planting trees
The CBO is also involved in voluntary work like garbage collection. Plans are also underway to involve community members in cleaning of rural towns in Laikipia County. 
They are also doing civil education to community members on environmental conservation and protection.
Ken Maina, Chairman Green Mind CBO noted that changing the mindset of some community members has been a problem. 
He said that some community members deem what they are doing as a waste of time and something that youths should not be doing.
“Some people have been looking down upon us as they say that youths have nothing to offer to the community. Instead of some supporting our initiatives they have been at the forefront of discouraging us,” said Maina.
Future plans
Some of the planned activities include: publishing an environmental magazine; holding awareness marathons on issues like drug abuse, environmental conservation and health; educating community members on agriculture and livestock through seminars and meetings; starting conflict resolution forums; and developing software’s for use by schools.
Young people have a special interest in maintaining a healthy environment because they will be the ones who will inherit it. The involvement of youths in environmental conservation will ensure a sustainable future for themselves and for future generations.
Green Mind CBO can be reached through their Facebook page Green Mind Kenya
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