Mwanyuma Hope Mugambi and Beverly Kendi Nkonge of Nairobi and Mombasa respectively, have be announced as the 2012 Young Environmental Envoys for Kenya, as part of an initiative organized by Bayer and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Launched in 1998, the UNEP-Bayer Young Environment Envoy Programme aims to improve knowledge of environmental issues among young people and support them in developing and implementing projects on sustainable development, conservation and other aspects of the environment in their own communities.
Hope is a 23 year old student at the Kenyatta University Mombasa campus, studying Environmental Studies and Community Development. Hope runs a recycling initiative that turns waste plastic bags into tablemats, laptop cases and other products. She has trained members of a local women’s group to manufacture the recycled goods, which they sell to fund school fees, and the purchase of sanitary products.
Kendi is just 16 years old and attends Riara School in Nairobi. Together with a some classmates, Beverly founded a company producing “fireballs”, or fuel briquettes, made from sawdust and organic waste as part of an entrepreneurship challenge for young people. Their company, named Providentia, sold the environmentally-friendly briquettes to teachers and classmates. The fuel was also used in the school kitchen. Money raised from the sale of the fireballs was used to pay school fees for children living in a slum in Nairobi.
“Hope and Kendi are leading the way in raising awareness of key environmental issues in their communities, and are worthy recipients of the Young Environmental Envoy title,” said Theodore Oben, Head of UNEP’s Outreach Unit.
As part of the Young Environment Envoy Programme, selected students go to Germany on a weeklong study tour to experience how environmental protection is practiced by people, government and industry in one of the leading countries with regards to technology and environmental awareness. Hope and Kendi will be joined by fellow young environmental envoys from around 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. The envoys’ visit to Bayer headquarters and other sites in Germany in November will have a strong focus on environment and industry. Through a series of interactive workshops, talks and site visits, the young people will experience at first-hand how the latest technology can be applied to environmental protection.
After completing their year as Young Environmental Envoys, the students then become members of an alumni network that brings together past envoys from all participating countries. The network acts as a support group for envoys implementing their own environmental projects and as a forum where young people can share experiences on environmental issues.
”Bayer understands that engaging youths in environmental conservation ensures continuity, consequently making conservation efforts more sustainable. This motivates us to keep supporting this program,” said Frans Labuschagne, Managing Director, Bayer East Africa.
Sources: UNEP and UNEP-Bayer Partnership