Archive for the ‘Kisumu’ Category

Woe unto Kenyans, they must join the world in the fight for sustainability

Image of branded plastic carrier bags in Kenya (retrieved from Kenya Climate Innovation Centre website)

The plastic bag ban initiated by NEMA has been met with mixed reactions, and these mainly negative. Comments have come in from left, right and centre decrying the ban due to the economic effect it shall have on a nation that already has a high percentage of its population unemployed (and counting). With the industry being linked to over 9,000 jobs, no one wants to see it go. And don’t think that the support you see for the ban online does mean it’s supported equally as fervently offline. The masses most affected by this ban are not the individuals on Facebook and twitter retweeting every NEMA and MENR tweet with their added nods of approval. The masses are the kadogo economy dependants who get everything sub-divided in those convenient, flat plastic bags.

This plastic bag ban is the wake-up call for Kenya. A wake-up call for all developing countries really; developing countries who have been crying foul as countries globally dragged the climate change negotiations on and on when they were facing the brunt of the fall out from the warmer global temperatures. Environmental activists have been calling for action from these callous northerners. Action to slow down the effects that THEIR development is wreaking on our countries. “We are developing, we weren’t the cause of whatever is currently ailing the planet” we cry as we point fingers at the global North.

And then the plastic bag ban comes and we assume the exact same position as the constantly negotiating countries. Faced with the idea that WE, a less developed nation, have to change our ways for the sake of the environment leads us to immediately question this move, especially considering that it shall hurt us financially – All those jobs!

These sentiments may be shared by a lot more than will comment on this piece with rage but dear Kenyans, it is not the end of the world. Changes in the status quo cannot solely be carried out by the developed countries while we carry on with life(business) as usual. We may be a developing country but conversations on realising what it does mean to contribute towards sustainable change as developing countries need to begin. And one of those ways is the banning of plastic bags. Multiple views have been shared on how the government is going about this the wrong way,  and I do agree with some of those views – this ban reeks of unpreparedness and a lack of indepth analysis as to the possible alternatives for all parties involved. But we are Kenyans, we are resourceful. Once upon a time we lived without plastic bags. let us go back to that time when things were easier and our animals did not happen upon plastic on their grazing lands.

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.


UK – United Kisumu the Millennium City

The UK of Kenya, Kisumu city on the shores of Lake Victoria – in 2006, was designated the first United Nations Millennium City in the world by UN-HABITAT.

UN-HABITAT outlined the broad development strategy for Kisumu. The outline takes note of the fact that the challenge was to translate the vision into a reality adding that an MDG- based plan would provide the focus to achieve this and that the major hurdles in Kisumu include water and sanitation.

Kisumu city stands again among the eleven (11) cities in eight (8) African countries under the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI). The MCI helps selected sub-Saharan cities accomplish the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight universally endorsed targets focused on poverty eradication, health, education, gender equality, environmental protection and global partnerships. MCI’s social sector and investment-related research gives these regional capitals the information they need to generate comprehensive, integrated city development strategies aimed at ensuring the delivery of social services and attracting job-generating investment.

The city founded in 1901 with the coming of the Kenya – Uganda Railway. Its population has since grown to over half a million people, some 60 percent of whom live below poverty line. It lies a few kilometers South of the equator and this makes it a tourist attraction. One feature is Kisumu’s sunset – often magnificent or better. In Kisumu, the days are always around 12 hours long and sunset is always between 1840h and 1900h. If you are in UK, find a good spot on the Lake Victoria or a high place with a good view of the Western horizon.

UK – United Kisumu

I meet two men from lake side and I am lost into their captivating conversation. One shouts omera, I have just landed from UK and it is raining blackberries and iphones. Thought I was lost alone, the other inquires omera you mean I have been voice calling you on my 4G enabled Samsung galaxy note when you were in UK? The other one – explains, now days we have UK here in Kenya.

This is why I advise you if you are in Nairobi City, and you hear someone saying I am going to UK, please ask next question. Which UK? Now we know it is not only United Kingdom but we have United Kisumu.

UK is a port city in western Kenya and Located on the shores of Lake Victoria.  It is the third largest city in Kenya and the headquarters of Kisumu County.  In addition, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest and the world’s second largest freshwater lake (after Lake Superior in the United States).

Kisumu port was founded in 1901 [two years after Nairobi city] as the main inland terminal of the Uganda Railway and named Port Florence.  Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade “sumo”. The city has “Friendship” status with Cheltenham, UK and “sister city” status with Roanoke, Virginia and Boulder, Colorado, USA. Vividly, we have the answer to our questions of why UK.

The gentlemen make me laugh more as I write this post, when omera says surely you should be reading on your Wikipedia of our very own Kisumu – UK. Bragging, he says this is the only city where they are constructing a modern international airport when other cities build roads [meaning Nairobi and Thika road construction]. If you did not get the joke, he explains further, when people other cities will be driving on roads we Luopeans will fly to UK – Kisumu. Do not ask who Luopeans are.

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