The Guinea Fowl is Knocking on Your Door

“Come and meet the spotted queen!”

My uncle Fezi shouts as he races into our compound. Although he is twenty, his chiseled cheekbones and playful spirit make him look fifteen. I am seven years old.

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La pintade est frappant à votre porte

"Venez rencontrer la reine tachetée !"

Mon oncle Fezi crie alors qu'il court dans notre enceinte. Bien qu'il ait vingt ans, ses pommettes ciselées et son esprit enjoué lui donnent l'air d'une quinzaine d'années. Je suis âgé de sept ans.

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Rekindling the Embers of Sustainability

The fire crackles. Tongues of fire leap up to the brown cooking pot causing the dry meat within to simmer joyfully. Seated on a low three-legged stool a metre away from the fire, my grandmother Binti Kalila pushes another piece of firewood into the fireplace. She tightens the wrapper around her waist and breaks into a happy hymn. A large window two metres away from the fireplace catches both the smoke and her hymn.

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I want to Run with Grace

This morning when I was running in the serenity of Karura Forest, a young lady probably the age of my 21-year old sister Sharon ran past me. I gazed and gaped at her with wonder. Her running stride was so graceful. She didn’t just throw one foot in front of the other haphazardly as I sometimes did. Rather, her steps blended together in a Beethoven’like harmony.

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Je veux courir avec grâce

Ce matin, alors que je courais dans la sérénité de la forêt de Karura, une jeune fille probablement de l'âge de ma sœur de 21 ans Sharon m'a dépassé. Je la regardais d'un air émerveillé. Sa foulée était si gracieuse. Elle n'a pas simplement jeté un pied devant l'autre au hasard comme je le faisais parfois. Au contraire, ses pas se sont mélangés dans une harmonie de Beethoven.

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Money May Not Grow on Trees but it Grows on Crops

Do you know of any rich farmer whose money comes from less than one acre of land? Most rich farmers own dozens of acres at the very least. Many farm wheat, coffee or such cash crops. They own tractors into which they occasionally jump into donning cowboy hats. They wear two or three wrinkles on their faces and black boots on their calloused legs.

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l'argent ne croisse pas sur les arbres, mais il pousse sur les cultures

Connaissez-vous un riche agriculteur dont l'argent provient de moins d'un acre de terre? La plupart des fermiers riches possèdent au moins des dizaines d'acres. Beaucoup d'entre eux cultivent du blé, du café ou de telles cultures commerciales.

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Turning Wastewater into Milk and Honey

The heavy sound of my old sneakers smashing into the dusty pathway was not because of a fast pace but because of my 89 kilos. Due to my snail-pace jogging, I was able to see the two ducks gliding in a small pool of wastewater that had gathered next to a drainage trench. The cheerful ducks were oblivious of the water's dirt and stench.

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Remplissez la Calebasse du Miel Vert

Chovya chovaya humaliza buyu la asali. Ce proverbe swahili se traduit approximativement par «si vous continuez à ramasser colleter un peu de miel dans la calebasse, il n'y aura plus finalement de miel».

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Fill the Calabash with Green Honey

Chovya chovya humaliza buyu la asali. This Swahili proverb roughly translates to ‘if you keep scooping a little honey from the calabash, there will eventually be no honey left.’

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Unveiling Lake Bogoria’s Hidden Treasures

My car was enjoying the drive as much as I was. The road was clear and although it was just after ten, it felt as if noon had already dumped its entire scorching heat on my forehead.

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Global funds back desert solar to bring power to 250 million Africans

A quarter of a billion Africans could be provided with solar power from the desert, claim organisations behind a new partnership in the Sahel region.

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Je suis une femme, une mère et …. une prostituée. Ne me juge pas!

Il était 18 heures du soir, Alice et Nadia parcouraient  la petite distance qui séparait leurs petites maisons à côté  des bars de Migina. Elles montaient lentement en bavardant, sans se presser car  cette nuit-là n’allait pas être très différente de celles qu’elles avaient connues.

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The Spectacular Spangled Emperor

Meet Mulhat. Nobody can see her face because of the midnight-black niqab that is covering it. Only her slender Chinese-like eyes are visible. The rest of the face that the eyes are a part of looks part Arabic and part African.

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Nairobi River Groans

My legs were singing Oliver Mtukudzi’s Todii. Whenever I was running fast, my legs would sing such happy songs.

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The environmental impact of a coal plant on Kenya’s coast is being underplayed

File 20170919 32017 10r46p9.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
An old coal-burning power plant in China. REUTERS/David Gray

David Obura, The University of Queensland

China is transforming its sources of energy domestically in a bid to reverse decades of environmental pollution. But the switch to renewable energy has brought about a conundrum: what to do with the jobs and industries that have no future in this new system?

Export them. Several African countries are accepting the poisoned chalice of China’s subsidised development through the construction of outdated, dirty coal plants.

Kenya is one. Its coastline is a national asset for fisheries, tourism, a growing population and economic development. But Amu Coal – a consortium of Kenyan and Chinese energy and investment firms – is set to start building a coal plant on the only part that is untouched by industrial development. The plant is planned to be some 20 kilometres from the town of Lamu on the mainland coast, at the mouth of Dodori Creek.

Lamu Town - A Unesco World Heritage Site. Shutterstock

Quite apart from the unfavourable economic and financing aspects for generating energy from coal, the plant may be Kenya’s single largest pollution source.

The problems should be set out in the Environment and Social Impact Assessment study required by Kenya’s Environment Act and vetted through the National Environment Management Authority. But three key issues are omitted or glossed over by the study. Any one of them should be cause for the environment authority, other arms of the Kenyan government and certainly the public to oppose the coal plant.

Thankfully, opposition is growing.

Key issues against plant

The first is a classic Industrial Revolution, Victorian issue. Toxic pollution. Coal releases a range of toxic substances into the environment. These go into the atmosphere, rain, groundwater, and seawater – and then to flora, fauna and people. These substances are barely mentioned in the assessment study. There are also no detailed estimates on the amounts that could be released and how they could be reduced by mitigating actions. The coal intended for use – initially to be imported from South Africa, and classified as “bituminous”, releases large amounts of toxins, particularly if improperly burned.

The impact study also doesn’t clearly state the full size of the mountain of coal residue left behind after burning –- almost 4km long by 1km wide and 25 metres high. No credible plan for disposing of the waste is presented.

Second is Kenya’s contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions. Under the Paris Agreement on climate change the Jubilee government committed to reduce these by 30% by 2030. The impact study dismisses the carbon emissions from the plant as negligible on a global scale, at only 0.024% of global emissions. But what it attempts to hide is that the emissions of the coal plant alone will double Kenya’s energy sector’s entire CO2 emissions. This at the same time that citizens, businesses and the government are investing in efforts to reduce their carbon footprints, through – for example through wind, solar and geothermal power generation.

Cars parked under solar panels at Africa’s largest solar carport in Nairobi’s Garden City shopping mall. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The third reason is a chimera of the above –- climate change and toxic pollution combined. It is reasonably certain that sea levels will rise due to climate change. Estimates suggest this could be in the order of half to one metre by the end of this century, and very possibly more. The toxic waste mountain left by the plant will be on Kenya’s flattest shoreline, built on sand. Its base will be maybe 2-3 metres above sea level, and tens to 100m from the shoreline. This is the most vulnerable part of Kenya’s coast where sea level rises, and yet the massive toxic dump is to be placed there.

Part of the impact assessment argues that “the area is remote” so few people will be affected by pollution. Quite apart from the flawed logic that it’s okay to pollute natural wilderness areas, if plans for a major urban development under the LAPSSET project – Eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure project bringing together Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan – are concluded, there will be a city of over one million people in the area by 2050.

The report contains nothing about exposure of this number of people to toxic waste. Even the Strategic Environment Assessment for the LAPSSET project, conducted in the last few years, doesn’t include the coal plant in its assessment. The logic is that the plant is “not part of LAPSSET” yet even the simplest understanding of the purpose of both impact assessments and strategic environment assessments is to consider all interacting threats, and particularly the biggest ones, to the environment and people.

The ConversationImproved standards are undoubtedly needed in Kenya’s Environment Impact Assessment sector. The country will develop, by hook or by crook, with or without a vision for 2030. Strengthening environment and social impact assessment as a tool to facilitate the right sort of development – where currently it’s viewed by business and most government authorities as a pesky bureaucratic step at best – will be one of the single most significant steps the government can take to protect and grow the natural and social assets that secure, healthy and equitable development is founded on.

David Obura, Adjunct Fellow, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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11 ways the Paris climate deal is working in the real world

As climate talks stall, it’s clear the UN process is no longer the major driving force of the climate transition. But does that matter?

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The Tenacious Women of Mlilo Women Group

The day that Kenya will decide to have its own version of Mt. Rushmore, Sagalla Hill in Taita Taveta County will provide the prime location for such an undertaking.

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Triggering Girl Power in Science and Technology

General Electric, SHOFCO and Kids Comp Camp collaborate to bridge STEM Gap for Girls from underserved schools and communities.

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They Just Need One Thousand Dollars to Stop the Smoke

If you are twenty-five years old and below, then John Kioli was already striving to make this world a greener place when you were still a child. For almost two decades, he has been the CEO of Green Africa Foundation, an organization that is on the frontlines of ensuring that Kenya adapts to a changing climate.

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Step Aside James Bond, Meet Green Bonds

Before I say anything else, let me just look into your eyes and tell you this, “green bonds can bring taps to your villages or bring water back into your taps. Stay with me for ten minutes as I explain to you how.”

***

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The Green Billions Haven't Reached Kenya's Wasini Island

If you visit the three-roomed, brick-walled house of forty-year old Muhammadi Musa, you will escape the island humidity thanks its cool grass-thatched roof. But you will not be able to escape the rolling waves of giggles from Nasra, his three-year old daughter. She is the last of his six children and has sparkling brown eyes that you will want to paint even if you are not an artist.

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I Went Ahead and Got Married

In the middle of those dreams you never want to wake up from was a grab on my waist and a gentle yet firm pull towards a warm surface which I later came to realize was a human body leading to my immediate awakening.

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Seven Reasons Why You Should Spend Your Next Birthday at Karura Forest

11AM, River Road Nairobi. It’s your birthday. Racing towards you is a rusty handcart, popularly known as mkokoteni.  You barely manage to sidestep it as it whizzes a mere inch from your scared legs. You catch a glimpse of Bob Marley’s face emblazoned on its left side.

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Meet the Nyama Choma that is Made from a Test Tube

He has been selling meat in Tena Estate since I was in my late teens and donning a Tupac-like bandana. His corner butchery has ample space and a compound where two cars can easily park (three if one of them is a Vitz).

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Meet Bamboo, Africa's Green Gold

Apart from the gentle whisper of the bamboo trees, silence enveloped the bamboo forest in Dawuro, a region in Southwest Ethiopia. These trees stood alert like a vast green army of soldiers. Their smooth green bark glistened in the soft sunrise hues that were painting the bamboo forest with shimmering colors.

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Shit Just Got Real

This was my first time to vote. I had very good reasons for giving it a “NO” and I believed with every inch of my being that my vote would tilt the scale and we would emerge as winners.

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Two Suspects Arraigned in Court for Illegal Possession of Leopard Skins

Wonders will never cease. Unfortunately, the last week of November 2017 brought a tragic wonder to the Kibera Law Courts in Nairobi.Two elderly men were arraigned before a Kibera court for being in illegal possession of two leopard skins with a street value of Ksh. 200, 000 ($2,000) each.

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AfDB Launches Youth Advisory Group to Create 25 Million Jobs

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs

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The Awesome Hills of Sagalla

‘Sagalla is Kenya’s garden of Eden,’ says Godrick Mwachofi, Sagalla Health Centre’s public health officer of. As he talks on cheerfully, I throw covert glances towards my left.

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