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MISSUE NO. 3615 

April 12 - 18, 2013

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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Climate lobbies urge community
ownership of R.E.D.D. projects

climate treaties have recognized the critical role
of sustainable forestry management to cushion
countries from devastating impacts of global warming

SPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENTS
Christine Lagat and Peter Mutai

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Climate change advocates have called on East African governments to allow local communities to have a greater voice in the design and implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation projects such as reforestation, watersheds and rangelands restoration.

Climate advocates who have been meeting in Kenya have also  urged East African governments and financiers to factor the interests of grassroots communities while initiating nature based climate change interventions including reduced emissions through deforestation and degradation (REDD).

“It is crucial for policy makers and financiers to design REDD projects that take into account the right of ownership among local communities. These communities should participate in the REDDs implementation failure to which conflicts will be inevitable,” Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Coordinator Mithika Mwenda told a region forum on Sunday.

Mwenda was speaking during a regional forum to discuss REDD preparedness in East and Horn of Africa.

The East and Horn of Africa region has borne the brunt of climate change impacts and experts reiterated that its huge repository of natural wealth such as forests and wetlands can be harnessed to reduce carbon emissions.

According to Mwenda, REDD projects have been initiated in the region with varying degree of success depending on policy and legal environment of the specific country.

Tanzania has so far made remarkable progress in the implementation of REDD projects while Kenya and Uganda are on course though much needs to be done in both countries,” he said.

Mwenda stressed that community land rights, benefit sharing and environmental safeguards are critical component of REDD projects.

Deforestation contributes 17 percent to global carbon emissions while climate treaties have recognized the critical role of sustainable forestry management to cushion countries from devastating impacts of global warming.

According to the national coordinator, Kenya forest working group, Rudolf Makhanu, both the World Bank and United Nations are spearheading efforts to promote REDD in vulnerable and poor nations.

“There is no denying trees have a significant role in climate mitigation and adaptation especially in developing countries. Governments should therefore prioritize expansion of forest cover through a mix of policy, legal and financial incentives,” Makhanu told Xinhua.

He observed that rapid deforestation through expansion of agricultural land, urbanization and human encroachment threatens success of REDD projects in the east and Horn of African region.

The East African nation has 72 percent forest cover and the central government in partnership with donors, private sector and civil society has rolled out interventions to halt deforestation.

Makhanu pointed out those rewarding local communities to conserve forests will boost climate mitigation in Kenya .

“Every REDD project should be based on financial compensation for communities conserving the forest ecosystem. Policies should also recognize benefit sharing and land rights,” Makhanu said.

He added that both the Kenyan constitution and Vision 2030 are REDD compliant by emphasizing on tree cover expansion to attain sustainable development.

REDD projects have great potential in the East and Horn of African region if governments established policy and legal incentives while mobilizing domestic resources towards this cause.

According to a Ugandan ecologist, Polycarp Mwima, national policies should emphasize on community ownership and readiness to catalyze implementation of REDD projects.

“Tropical forests are critical in addressing climate change and therefore countries should harness this resource to sequester carbon and cushion local communities from severe droughts and floods,” Mwima said.

There is need to localize REDD projects to ensure grassroots communities benefit from carbon financing.

“Communities have a right to benefit from forest resources in their vicinity and therefore REDD policies should facilitate full participation of local people in both design and implementation stage,” remarked the coordinator, Center for Indigenous peoples and environment network, Bonny Tereget

He emphasized that grassroots communities are endowed with indigenous knowledge that should be integrated in national forestry management programs.

Tereget noted that creation of county governments in Kenya will help popularize REDD projects at the grassroots.

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Kenyan entrepreneurs
modernize green housing

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Savvy Kenyan entrepreneurs have revitalized green housing through use of energy efficient but low cost lighting and construction materials sourced mainly from China and India .

As quest for green homes surge in Kenya , property developers have a reason to cheer as novel technologies replace conventional materials to construct durable and eco-friendly houses.

“There are alternative building systems that are both energy efficient and affordable which can be tapped to put up homes in any part of the country,” CEO of Prime Ventures, Menelik Makonnen said on Wednesday.

Prime Ventures has introduced into the Kenyan market a new housing technology based on use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels with a cement coating to replace conventional stones.

Makonnen told Xinhua during an interview in Nairobi that this technology has been adopted globally and has a promising future in Africa where demand for low cost housing has increased.

“The use of non brick and environmentally friendly building system has picked up in Africa largely because of the quest to eliminate slums through provision of low cost houses,” Makonnen remarked.

Replacing conventional stones with welded panels that have been plastered with cement and sand saves on cost and duration of constructing a house.

According to Makonnen, it would cost 30,000 dollars to put up a posh three bedroom unit in a suburban location using panels with cement coating. Likewise, this building system utilize only steel for roofing and help save on timber.

“The panel technology is ideal for building houses, schools, hospitals, swimming pools and basement packing. The stone has a 90- year guarantee and can withstand earthquakes or hurricanes,” said Makonnen.

Prime Ventures has developed model housing units in several Nairobi suburbs, central province and South Sudan .

This home grown small and medium enterprise imports the expanded polystyrene panels from South Africa and Dubai and has partnered with a construction company to develop housing units using this technology.

Makonnen revealed to Xinhua that the machines and equipment for manufacturing these panels are sourced from China .

“So far, the National Housing Corporation has purchased the machines from China to manufacture 3-dimensional wired panels with polystyrene insulation to construct low cost houses,” Makonnen said.

Kenyan small and medium sized enterprises have partnered to revolutionalize green housing using technologies that are home- grown, cheaper and environmentally friendly.

Makonnen said that a partnership formed with two Kenyan mid- sized enterprises, Deutrex Limited and Clean Power Technologies limited, has promoted solar lighting and waste recycling and re- reuse at household level.

Deutrex Limited is a six-year-old limited company founded by Gitonga Murungi, a Kenyan solar energy innovator and entrepreneur.

According to Murungi, the company has partnered with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide modern and cleaner off grid energy sources to local communities through the Lighting Africa Program.

“There is abundant solar in Africa to sustain lighting in homes and what is needed is to make solar products locally available,” Murungi told Xinhua.

Deutrex limited import solar equipment from China while research and development is conducted in India .

While Prime Ventures construct houses, Deutrex is tasked with installing solar equipment in this one year partnership.

The other partner, Clean Power Technologies Limited, provides household solution to solid and liquid waste through recycling and re-use.

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ICRAF sets the pace in
assessing its carbon footprint

By Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has captured 2,161 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011 from the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from its operations in office and trips out of the office in Nairobi .

ICRAF said late on Monday that it made the achievements from its staff official travels by air and road, hotel stays, electricity consumption and individual local travels.

“This is an indication that the center is set to becoming a carbon-neutral institution in the world,” said Dr. Audrey Chenevoy, the consultant with ICRAF’s Climate Change Unit responsible for carrying out the organization’s carbon footprint assessment told Xinhua in Nairobi .

Chenevoy said that the credits belong to the Kasigau Corridor REDD (deforestation and degradation) project in Kenya that protects over 500,000 acres of forest and also safeguarding the highly threatened wildlife migration corridor between two of Kenya’s largest national parks (Tsavo East and Tsavo West), and brings diverse benefits to surrounding rural communities.

The project, run by wildlife work is the world’s first REDD project to be validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and holds Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

In December 2012, ICRAF headquarters bought carbon credits to offset its GHG emissions for the next two years, through an institution called The Carbon Neutral Company.

The latter recognizes the exceptional environmental and social benefits the project provides – including job creation, education, and the provision of direct financial benefits from carbon to over 100,000 local people.

He revealed that ICRAF headquarters in Nairobi is officially carbon neutral hence setting an example that it hopes other offices and institutions will follow in addressing the challenge of climate change.

Prior to offsetting its emissions, ICRAF headquarters published a detailed account of its 2011 carbon footprint.

The findings of this assessment, the first in the Center’s history, are already informing actions to reduce carbon emissions at the headquarters, with the ultimate goal of achieving carbon- neutrality for its operation around the world.

According to ICRAF Director General Tony Simons, the Nairobi office will aim to remain carbon neutral and assess its carbon footprint annually and will be sharing the information on their website.

“We have extended the assessment process to our regional offices with the aim of becoming a carbon neutral institution,” he added.

He revealed that ICRAF is simply walking the talk and hope that donors and the public see this commitment to sustainable practices.

ICRAF headquarters is already implementing actions to reduce its carbon footprint over the long term, which will be important in balancing emissions as the organization grows.The Nairobi office has developed a new recycling system and switched, wherever possible, to energy-saving lighting.

Simons revealed that plans to update the video conferencing system to increase collaboration over the internet and cut down on travel are underway.

The institution is also in the process of introducing actions towards carbon-neutrality and purchasing carbon credits.

“Since climate change affects everyone—from rural smallholder farmers to urban dwellers, we all have to do our part to keep emissions to the minimum, at the individual, community and institutional level,” Chenevoy said.

The move makes ICRAF as the first Consultative Group in International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) center to rigorously assess its carbon emissions worldwide.

“ICRAF has taken some ground-breaking step this past year, but a lot of work lies ahead if we want to be truly sustainable,” Dr. Henry Neufeldt, head of ICRAF’s Climate Change Unit and leader of the carbon footprint initiative noted.

He said that as an organization at the leading edge of climate change adaptation and mitigation research in agriculture, achieving carbon neutrality represents not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for ICRAF to demonstrate its credibility as a 21st century partner.

The Kasigau Corridor REDD project covers 200,000 hectares of dry forest land in southern Kenya an area that is under intense threat from slash and burn agriculture practiced by the local communities that continue encroaching the parks.

Nearly 150,000 people are already benefiting from the revenues emanating from the sale of carbon from the project.

The project is the first ever to be issued with Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs) for REDD under both Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

These are the two most comprehensive carbon accounting standards among projects issuing credits in voluntary markets.

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