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Environment: Updates from African Bloggers

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Citizen Media, Environment, Governance, Photography, Protest

In this edition of Global Voices environment we check in with the African environment bloggers, who have fascinating pictures to share, discussions on solar technology, concerns about forest re-allocation and updates on past stories.

Urbansprout discusses news from solar researchers [1] who announced new technology involving glass sheets coated with light absorbing organic dyes. Urbansprout asks:

Can a piece of glass with a layer of paint on top of it absorb enough sunlight to generate an alternative to the rather expensive solar energy we have at the moment?

In a previous post, Urbansprout heralded [2] the creation of the first ‘One Planet eco-village in the African continent. He notes the 10 guiding principles behind the design of the eco-villages, and expounds on what this eco-village would mean:

This is not your common garden variety ‘eco village'! Their next proposed village is Sibaya, just outside Durban – the first One Planet eco-village on the African continent.
Sibaya will be a community of indigenous gardens, a place where neighbours share cars, where cycling lanes take you to nearby restaurants and shops, where all waste is recycled and where fresh fruit and vegetables are dropped off on your doorstep…

Moses Sserwanga writes [3] that the Ugandan government is still trying to give away 7,100 hectares of the Mabira tropical rainforest. The prospect of turning Mabira forest into sugarcane plantations ignited protests last year, with SMS being used to mobilize Ugandans [4] to protest the plans for a plantation by the Mehta Group. He says [3]:

Govt is back at its cat and rat game
Without shame, and respect to public opinion, government is back to its old schemes to give away about 7,100 hectares of a national treasure- Mabira tropical rainforest- to Mehta Group for sugarcane growing.
But the most bizarre aspect of this latest government plot is the uncoordinated and contradictory actions of the technocrats who serve in the Ministry of Water and Environment.It’s hardly two years when the same technocrats who are now plotting to zone the 29,964 hectares of Mabira and effectively pave the way for its destruction- warned of the severe consequences of such actions.

He discusses the issue in light of the climatic changes set to occur in Africa, adding…

On the thorny issue of Mabira where the public has demonstrated unprecedented solidarity in the resolve to protect this national resource, government should take precaution when making decisions that will hurt national interest. The concept of sustainable development comes in hand here. Any development especially President Museveni’s much touted industrial development should be ecologically viable.

Situations where such development can cause irreversible harm to the environment should be avoided. The destruction of our forest cover spells trouble for the country’s reservoir of biodiversity. The public should remain firm in the struggle to save Mabira forest.

Phil of Kenya Environment News writes of [5] a nuclear waste plant in Kenya, saying:

Kenya is a few days away from hosting the first ever dreaded and less understood radioactive waste processing facility at Oloolua, located at the institute of primate research in Kajiado district. If the facility is allowed to proceed, Kenyans will without doubt pay dearly, in the same way history is certain to harshly judge the current generation.

Phil also posts about an initiative that provides power for rural communities in Kenya [6]:

The first power-generating centre using environmentally friendly hydro and solar power has been inaugurated in a Kenyan village 150 kilometres north east of Nairobi by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Apart from generating electricity, the new centre, in Kibai village in Kenya’s Kerugoya division, promotes the use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps to replace kerosene lamps that contribute to respiratory illnesses in children and women who use them on a daily basis.

More information is available on the Lighting up Kenya blog [7].

Dr. Leakey answers [8] some questions from the blogger Dipesh Pabari [9] about climate change in East Africa.

We end with some pictures [10]of the Cobhouse that was mentioned on Global voices in March of this year [11]. The cobhouse is an eco-friendly building that is built using clay, straw and wood.

cobhouse [10]