Weru Technical College races to battle climate change effects
Kilifi County has long been a region of striking contrasts. On the one hand, it boasts some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Kenya, with touristy destinations and a lush interior dotted with indigenous trees and teeming with wildlife. But on the other hand, it has also been battered by years of drought, climate change, and environmental degradation; As you look into the vast county, there are dreary sights of trees reduced to stumps and the constant hum of boda boda ferrying sacks of charcoal. Nestled in the heart of this landscape, in Malindi, is Weru Technical and Vocational College. As you enter the gate, you are welcomed by a lush green environment. According to Audrey Mundu, a trainer at the institution and one of the pioneers of the greening project, the institution has decided to go green by planting dozens of trees to douse the effects of climate change. “We are in an area that is semi-arid and facing an environmental crisis as deforestation has become the norm. However, we have a role to play in conserving the environment, so we picked up this challenge to become a case study in the area,” she offers. The initiative is funded by Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) and I&M Foundation through A Rocha Kenya, a Christian-based organization that works in environmental conservation, as the local implementing partner. The project was started in 2021 and so far, they have planted hundreds of diverse trees, including fruit trees within the college’s compound. Across the campus, towering trees provide ample shade from the harsh sun. It does not end with planting trees; students, through the environment club, are learning about the importance of environmental conservation and how they help reverse the devastating effects of climate change. “Students pursuing the various courses have joined the environment club and are researching, mainly through observation and experimenting with different types of trees that can grow in the region and are eager to be a part of the solution to the environmental challenges facing this community,” offers Mr Alphonce Karisa, the club’s patron. A Rocha, which works with communities and learning institutions to fight the climate change crisis took the club through training on how to plant, preserve water and care for the plants. “When guests come to the college, it’s often the first thing that they notice. Our students are also grateful for the tranquil environment. However, it has not always been a smooth journey. We have had issues with encroachment and water shortages. Thankfully, we have managed to fence the area and hold rainwater for environmental conservation purposes,” says Ms Mundu. KCDF works with its partners to increase the participation of communities to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of their natural resources including building the capacity of the community to assess, plan and implement interventions that mitigate risks to the environment. Subsequently, Weru Technical and Vocational College has adopted other environment-friendly changes. To make meals for their 700 students and staffers, they use energy-saving jikos donated to them by KCDF and I&M Foundation. “We used to cut many trees for wood fuel, but that number has significantly gone down because of the new technique. As the students leave the college for workplaces of entrepreneurship, these are some of the skills they can carry and set an example for the society,” says Mr Karisa. As the world faces a pressing climate change crisis, higher learning institutions have emerged as critical players in the global response effort. Universities, colleges, and their researchers are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, playing a significant role in mitigating its effects and developing sustainable solutions for the future. “Institutions of higher learning are well positioned to drive this agenda, given their unique ability to bring together diverse perspectives and expertise across a range of disciplines, offers Stanley Baya, community conservation manager at A Rocha Kenya.