Can tech save or reverse the impact of deforestation on the delicate ecosystem of Mt. Kenya? Let me put it this way can Kenyans online work together to save Mount Kenya from going to the dogs? Earlier this week I attended Breakfast meeting organized by Africa Point and the talk was about how to use social media to save Mount Kenya through an initiative called Tupande Pamoja. With over 7 million Kenyans online , Africa Point through Tupande Pamoja and partners strongly believe they can bring on board 100,000 social media ambassadors to help raise awareness about this worthy cause within a period of two years and subsequently plant 100,000 trees in Mt Kenya Forest over the same period of time.
Before we go on the details on how this will be done, a little bit of the background of the Mount Kenya and its problems which are actually being experienced by many other water catchment areas in Kenya like Mau complex.
Mount Kenya is Kenyan’s largest water tower whose underground lakes and a large network of rivers supply water to more than two million people living in the surrounding areas. It also provides about half the flow of water into the Tana River _Kenya’s largest river, which produces 50 per cent of the hydropower generated in Kenya. Mt. Kenya is also the source of the Ewaso Nyiro River, the only river supplying water to the arid Laikipia and Samburu area to the north of Kenya. In a nutshell, Mount Kenya Forest alone is estimated to provide more than 40% of the country’s water requirement. But deforestation – a major contributing factor to global warming – is threatening to destroy the globally recognized tourist attraction and Kenya’s major water tower.
According to research compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), seven of the 18 glaciers present atop Mount Kenya in 1900 had disappeared by 1986 and the remaining eleven glaciers had lost between 60% and 92% of their area. The report further added that the total area covered by glaciers was only 0.4 sq km in 2000 compared to 1.6 sq km in 1900 – representing a 75% loss since the turn of the century. The severe extent of deforestation of the Mt. Kenya forest and other fringe forests has further aggravated the situation and scientists predict the glaciers could be wiped out soon if urgent measures are not taken.
Various conservation organizations are already actively involved in tree planting initiatives around Mt. Kenya and their efforts are already starting to yield some good results. One such organization is the East Africa Wildlife Society whose Tupande Pamoja programme works with local Community Based Organizations to plant trees in the Mt. Kenya forest. Over the last two years the initiative has brought together local communities to plant thousands of trees that are slowly bringing to life a forest that was once almost no more.
As the life starts to return many organizations have realized that it is the way to go. Tupande Pamoja initiative brings ‘pamoja’ the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the East Africa Wildlife Society, Kenya Forests Working Group, Nature Kenya & Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Here is how the online people come in to help. Africa Point, together with various partners, has pledged to donate one seedling for every ‘Tweet’ or Facebook ‘Like’ to be planted on the Mt.Kenya water tower. You can go to the Africa website africapoint.com and share the conservation link on twitter, Facebook or Blog about it. The other way is to tweet about saving Mount Kenya with hashtag #Tupandepamoja or #SaveMtKenya. The aim is to use social media to create awareness and plant 100,000 trees on Mt. Kenya driven by the young people-particularly Generation Y. Now that is something… can we can get 100,000 tweets, Facebook likes and Blog posts? Yes we can!!!!!!!