COMMUNITIES AMPLIFYING FRONTLINE VOICES TOWARDS CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN NAIROBI
Communities continue to bear the brunt and impacts of climate change due to different vulnerabilities and exposure to climate related risks and hazards. Urban areas provide a prolific challenge in the fight against climate change based on increasing population in the city, congestion, the sprawl of unplanned informal settlements and lack of proper planning for facilities and amenities. These are compounded by challenges in solid and wastewater management, air pollution, water scarcity, fossil fuel-based cooking and lighting options and degradation of the natural ecosystem among others that have had significant impact on human health and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The impact if amplified at city level when climate hazards and risks such as flooding and storms, extreme heat and drought occur which calls for communities to be ready to respond in more if not equal measure to guarantee their survival and well-being.
Story telling is an innovative approach that the community around Korogocho, one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi housing close to 200,000 people meshed in around one and a half square kilometres of space, has embraced to respond to the detrimental impacts of climate change in the city. Stories are powerful, personal and impactful and touch at the very core of the realities of our lives and dispositions that we hold.
“This is the embodiment of citizen science which is very important in the fight against climate change where citizens actively participate in finding solutions to climate change”, said Margaret Kariuki from Nairobi City County Government.
These words echo strongly on the importance of community voices in building climate resilience. The Hope Raisers initiative on digital story telling not only opens up an exciting and innovative approach towards highlighting the challenges that the community around Korogocho face in light of climate change but offers a unique opportunity to document and amplify the voices in the community towards these challenges in real time and visualize the impacts to a wide array of audiences. It is a fantastic platform for the youth to put duty bearers to task through creative and innovative mechanisms in a language that they understand and appeals to them and in the same breath build a critical mass of environmental stewards for the future by embracing their realities and urban culture. It is also an opportunity for the county government to continue supporting communities.
“The county government has always been on hand to support our work in restoring green spaces around Korogocho by providing us with soil and seedlings for free”, states Mary Waruguru one of the green champions in Korogocho and an ardent advocate for peace who enjoys working with the youth. “This support has greatly helped in rejuvenating green spaces in the villages around Korogocho and empower the youth to protect their environment and move away from crime”, she added.
The meeting was one of a kind in bringing together community leaders, youth organizations, the city county government, artists and creatives as well as other community representatives to identify and highlight climate challenges in their environment, package that to a relatable story and drive towards sustainable solutions that will improve their livelihoods and the environment they live in. There was rich and extensive engagement in bringing to light community issues around climate adaptation and engaging city officials on platforms that the community can use to engage and champion for responses to climate challenges as well as highlighting policies and programs that the city government was involved in.
The learning experience was unmatched in the process of digital storytelling and this was evidenced by the impactful stories that the participants created in magnifying environmental and climate challenges they experience on a daily basis. This platform serves as an important basis and opportunity to invert the decision making pyramid to place the community at the forefront of tabling climate related challenges and amplifying their voices to push for support from city governments and rally the community towards a common approach and solidarity in building climate resilience one story at a time.
He is a climate change and emissions expert living in Kasarani Constituency Nairobi City. He works with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group which has supported Nairobi city county government to develop a greenhouse gas inventory on emissions across different sectors to build an evidenced based approach towards mitigation actions in the city. He is currently supporting Nairobi city to develop a climate action plan, he also work with the Korogocho Future Yetu committee bringing his expertise on climate change and is an environmental enthusiast who loves interacting with communities.