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“We feel the government is missing an opportunity”

Chapter Profile: GLFx Nairobi

Wind turbines in a landscape near the Kenyan capital where the GLFx Nairobi chapter works. Courtesy of GLFx Nairobi
10 May 2021
10 May 2021

This article is a part of an ongoing series about the work of the GLFx landscape restoration initiative. To learn more about GLFx, read the introduction here and sign up to join here.

One of the founding aims of GLFx Nairobi is to champion the work of young people whose sustainability projects are already doing amazing work in Kenya’s capital city.

Laura Mukhwana, an independent researcher with a background in environmental planning and management, is one of GLFx Nairobi’s coordinators, along with monitoring and evaluation lead June Kimaiyo, social media manager Janet Chemitei and volunteer liaison officer Kiptoo Chemoiwo.

Community members take part in landscape restoration in Nairobi. Courtesy of GLFx Nairobi
Community members take part in landscape restoration in Nairobi. Courtesy of GLFx Nairobi

“We feel that mapping these initiatives is really important because these are the people who are actually doing the work on the ground,” says Mukhwana. “But their actions are not necessarily being recognized, and we feel that the government is missing an opportunity to learn from their experiences.”

Mukhwana, together with fellow coordinators Akinyi Chemutai and Kaluki Paul, launched GLFx Nairobi in March 2021 with a Facebook live event, followed by a Twitter chat in April with climate change analyst Patricia Mwangi and geographer and Greenpeace Africa campaigner Amos Wemanya on “Why is Nairobi getting hotter?” Relevant questions like this help to bring the reality of the climate crisis and the potential of sustainable landscape solutions to people’s front doors.

But GLFx Nairobi is not restricting its work to the world of tweets and likes. “We’re currently exploring an on-site landscape restoration project that will bring together all our members,” Mukhwana says. “And not just planting trees and then disappearing. It will be something more long term, where we monitor the site.”

The chapter works with a number of volunteers already and is still in the process of building its community and researching ideas for its project, but one initiative that Mukhwana particularly admires has helped improve an area of Koragocho, a densely populated slum on the banks of Nairobi River.

Laura Mukhwana, one of the GLFx Nairobi chapter coordinators. Courtesy of Laura Makhwana
Laura Mukhwana, one of the GLFx Nairobi chapter coordinators. Courtesy of Laura Makhwana

The recent construction of a road through the slum gave much-needed employment to locals, but the young people who worked on the road didn’t stop when construction finished.

“A lot of the youth were previously engaged in criminal activities or drug abuse,” Mukhwana says. “Now they have come together to form a community organization and have been doing amazing work by restoring the riparian zone. They also created the first People’s Park in Kenya, a really beautiful green space for the community.”

This is exactly the kind of project that GLFx Nairobi will champion, exactly the kind of community initiative that GLFx seeks to stimulate, and exactly the kind of direct action that the whole world needs to bring real change.

Read more about GLFx and meet the other chapters here

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