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Isiolo Drought Relief Response

The World Environment Day celebrated on the 5th of June annually, pushes the campaign of Only One Earth this year. The focus theme is Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature.

The theme is urging us to adopt sustainable lifestyles that respect and care for the natural surroundings. This in turn, will attempt to undo or at least ease the adverse effects of climate change such as disruptions of rain patterns or prolonged drought, severe storms, hotter temperatures, loss of species, more health risks, poverty, and food insecurity among others.

For three years, Kenya has been suffering from droughts. Yet again, Kenya is undergoing another drought season and parts of the country are hard hit facing severe food and water shortage. These areas are mostly the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). The underlying cause for these changes is global warming. The build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by a number of factors, such as uncontrolled deforestation, use of fossil fuels for production and transportation, human consumption, food waste, etc. is one of the key contributors to global warming.

Why should you care?

We have #OnlyOneEarth.

Left unattended, the negative effects of climate change will concern us all, they already do. No one is exempt from it.  Take climate actions now! We need to restore the earth now. Live sustainably.

According to the Kenya National Drought Management Authority, the number of people in need of assistance has increased since February this year from 3.1 million to 3.5 million this month.

There are 23 counties that are in dire need of food support. The Red Cross team has managed to support approximately 56,000 households in 16 counties. The GreenTour Kenya team- the Ecotourism Kenya and the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, is collaborating with the Kenya Red Cross to continue reaching out to affected families through the initiative Isiolo Drought Relief Response.

CALL TO ACTION!

The drought has robbed people in the affected areas of physical and mental well-being. These areas are mainly agricultural areas, relying on pastoral and farming for livelihood. The delayed rains have presented problems of low food which leads to food rationing, sale of livestock to sustain themselves, low expense on health and health deterioration, etc.

Isiolo Drought Relieve Response – raising money for food aid. The fundraiser starts on 3rd June 2022 and is targeting Kshs. 500,000.

Join us for a good cause.

The funds will be used to purchase basic food items that will be delivered to the affected households in Isiolo. Be a part of this initiative as we mobilize funds to acquire foodstuff to support families.

Join us!

You can participate in this through the M-Pesa M-changa platform.

Paybill Number: 891300

Account Number: FOODBKT

Alternatively,

Follow this link to donate: https://tinyurl.com/y3ycnbko

Your support is highly appreciated.

For any inquiries, reach Ms. Lynnet Kamonde through admin@ecotourismkenya.org 0r Ms. Mary Kimeu through info@ecotourismkenya.org

 

Groundwater: The Precious Invisible Resource

The saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” However, this does not mean the subject of discussion is completely absent. Every year since 1993, 22nd March marks World Water Day when the world celebrates water and raises awareness of the numerous people living without access to safe water. Commemoration of World Water Day is about taking action to tackle water crisis the globally. This year’s theme is aimed to appreciate how precious groundwater is and make visible the invisible benefits it has.

Water has both direct and indirect uses. Direct uses include activities such as drinking, bathing, and cooking, while indirect uses of water include wood processing for purposes of making paper and steel production for automobiles. Largely, the use of water in the world is for agriculture, industry, and electricity. Water also has a close relationship with tourism as a sector that influences the development of tourism and its related activities. Cruise tours depend on water as a means of transport, water parks, and water-related excursions such as water rafting among others. Water attractions such as lakes, rivers, and oceans are sources of numerous aquatic attractions that tourists travel to view and experience. Additionally, when tourists visit they consume a lot of water either in drinking, while bathing, for swimming, and other recreational activities among others.

Groundwater is defined as freshwater underneath the surface of the earth found in spaces between rocks, soil, and sand. Groundwater comes from precipitation; melt ice/snow, surface water, runoff, etc. Groundwater is used in agricultural activities, ecosystem support, energy resources, urban and rural water supplies among others. Although unseen and assumed to always be there, groundwater’s availability and quality are threatened by a number of factors including, climate change, overexploitation, pollution by natural and human elements, land degradation, etc. Among other factors that encourage climate change, tourism is a big contributor. With the increased degrees of heat due to carbon dioxide emissions, evaporation of groundwater is imminent. This prevents groundwater from getting replenished. With little to no groundwater, industries including tourism will have a hard time operating. Tourism is not only competing with other industries to use groundwater but also contributing to its depletion. Groundwater conservation is therefore important as it will ensure its availability and good quality is sustained.

Factors affecting availability and quality of groundwater

Groundwater makes up approximately 30.1% of the world’s freshwater. The use of groundwater by various industries causes stress on the resource. Some of the ways groundwater is used in the tourism industry include; growing food for guests and local communities, as a source to water basins such as lakes, wetlands, acting as a support to ecosystems that host wildlife; a tourism resource, supporting livelihoods, etc.

Here are some actions that improve groundwater conservation:

  1. Establishment of suitable policies and regulations to direct proper management and handling of groundwater.
  2. Proper enforcement of the groundwater management laws to instill the discipline of sustainable practice of groundwater procedures.
  3. Construction of effectively functioning drainage systems should be to direct waste and water to their appropriate management sites. This will minimize flooding, pollution of groundwater and improve its quality.
  4. Wetlands, flood meadows, and two-stage ditches should be created to reduce surface water runoff.
  5. More water treatment facilities should be developed. This will improve the sanitation level of the water that is released back to the environment.
  6. More research and monitoring of groundwater should be done. This will provide up-to-date data which is important in informing the right decisions.
  7. Sustainable water management plans should be developed and put to use in tourism facilities. The Ecotourism Kenya’s Eco-Rating Certification program includes an integrative plan that puts into practice responsible water management. Read here:

https://ecotourismkenya.org/blog/water-management-and-conservation-for-tourism-facilities/

  1. Any action that works on mitigating climate change, in the long run, works in the best interest of groundwater conservation.
  2. Increasing surface water supply reduces the demand for groundwater. This downs the drilling of more boreholes.

 

Good groundwater management is needed to achieve SDG target 6.6 to protect and restore water-related ecosystems, and SDG target 15.1 on the conservation of freshwater ecosystems and their services.

How else can we conserve groundwater? Let us know in the comments below.

International Mother Language Day 2022

Language and tourism have an essential interconnection following the movement of tourists to destinations across borders. This interconnection is yielded by the remarkable encounters amongst people who speak different languages. The world takes an honorable moment to commemorate The International Mother Language day 2022, on 21st February on the theme “Using technology for multilingual learning; challenges and opportunities”. Such commemorations as this present an opportunity to appreciate the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies.  One of the 10 principles highlighted in the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism focuses on tourism’s contribution to mutual understanding and respect between people and societies. This mandate presents a feature of responsible tourism considered to work towards preserving the differences in cultures and languages that foster peace, tolerance, and respect for others.

Over the years, various platforms and avenues have come up for learning different languages. They include but are not limited to Ablo, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, FluentU, Tandem among others. They offer opportunities to learn some of the widely spoken languages. These exist as websites, mobile applications, and video platforms. Offered in different price packages, they use varying degrees of interactivity to keep the learner engaged. Language learning through technology can also be spotted in the entertainment industry through music, film and digital shows. The availability of captions in these media helps consumers get the information being passed while remaining in contact with the original sounds and nuances of the foreign language. There are over 6000 recorded languages in the world. Some of them are on the verge of being forgotten while others are changing dynamically. There is an opportunity for people to share more about the lesser-known languages.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way. Any mother language forms a substantial part of an ethnic group’s culture. Carried within them are attitudes, values, perspectives and so much more. Mother tongues are a part of creating the attractive ambiance of a destination. While staff in the hospitality and tourism industry learn and use foreign languages to connect with the guests and make them comfortable, it is also important that they hold on to their mother language. They can enrich the guests’ experience by teaching them a few words and phrases in the local dialect to influence ease of interaction with host communities.

Institutions of higher learning providing Hospitality and Tourism courses offer and encourage foreign language units. This gives the students a competitive edge by being multilingual. Multilingualism and tourism go hand in hand. This is because tourism activities imply encounters with different people from different cultures. The more languages are spoken by the staff, say in a destination, the more they can make their guests unique and organic experiences. Often left out is the language of the minority catering to the blind and deaf. With technology, learning languages such as the International Sign Language has become much easier and more flexible. Destinations should take advantage of this and give training to their staff in order to better cater for the needs of the special clients.

Breaking the Green Washing Chain

The travel and tourism industry is multi-faceted and involves different stakeholders. For the industry to run successfully or achieve sustainable tourism development, a sound communication strategy is vital. Marketing and communication of responsible tourism products, services, and practices help tour operators stand out as responsible tourism enterprises. This heightens the tour operators’ chances of attracting conscious travelers as their clients.

Read more

SINGLE-USE PLASTICS AND THE TRAVEL AND TOURISM INDUSTRY

Single-use plastics (SUPs) as per the U.N.E.P definition, are also referred to as disposable plastics and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. They are commonly used for plastic packaging and examples include grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery, cotton buds, cigarette butts, balloon/lollipop sticks, etc.

SUPs are not good to use as they are mostly poorly discarded and end up polluting the environment. The longevity of degradation can take as long as 450 years. As they decompose, they break down into smaller forms known as micro-plastics. They usually end up not only in water locations such as oceans or rivers but also on land e.g. farms. They might end up being ingested by animals or affect plant optimal growth. Another negative effect is that they lower the aesthetic value of a place when left unattended. Bad smell accompanies this effect, especially around illegal waste landfills.

Despite knowing that SUPs are detrimental to the environment and our health, they are still being produced and being used. So what are the challenges faced in reducing the use of single-use plastics?

I.             Alternatives may not be readily available.

As single-use plastics have been around for a long time, consumers tend to stick to what they have grown used to. If the alternatives of single-use plastics like cotton bags or polypropylene bags are out of immediate reach, consumers will choose the plastic option.

II.            The cost of alternative packaging

If the alternatives are more expensive, this may deter some consumers from purchasing them and opt for the single-use plastics. Alternative packaging, like cartons or other eco-friendly materials used often come at a higher price. It can be also questioned whether all alternative packaging is really better for the environment. Both producers and consumers are price sensitive so higher costs may prevent them from purchasing.

III.           Lack of awareness on the effects of SUPs and the alternatives

The awareness message of alternatives for single-use plastics has still not reached a majority of the public. They may be aware of only some types of plastics. Also, since the COVID-19 pandemic, a wrong perception of safety by using more packaging can be observed.

IV.          Some single-use plastics are convenient

A good example would be plastic food wrappers. They help a great deal to keep food fresh and free from contamination. As they serve this need well, they are still in use. In certain areas in Kenya, for example, plastic bags have been replaced by plastic nets for fresh food and vegetables, which can be harmful to many animals, especially marine life, and is used widely and often without awareness.

V.            Lack of policy

Some governments are yet to formulate and implement policies regarding the use and/or disposal of single-use plastics. Often, policies also lack in preventing the import of plastics for commercial reasons. As much as there has been uptake of the ban on the use of plastic carrier bags, some remain negligent and there is little enforcement done.

VI.          Limited communication on the stand against SUPs

Whether it be hotels, hotel operators, suppliers, destination management or tourists, the less the public know about SUPs, the more they’ll keep using them. The commitment to avoiding SUPs and using alternatives should be continuously communicated to help the public adjust to your preference. This involves staff training. The staff should be well informed on the effects of SUPs and the importance of using alternatives. For example, if a restaurant decides to go plastic-free, this should be communicated to the clients and alternatives (e.g. no straw policy or alternatives to plastic straws) offered. If the staff is well trained, they can answer questions and complaints by the guests but also engage with the concept and often develop a sense of pride in their work.

Activities to help in adopting responsible behavior

  1. Promote and take the Plastic free challenge

This is a campaign run online that challenges individuals or groups to commit to adopting a plastic-free lifestyle and occasionally post photos on how they achieve that.

 http://www.plasticfreechallenge.org/take-the-challenge

2. Access to relevant information

Free access is provided to a wealth of information on how to reduce, reuse, recycle plastic on the Internet. Take the time and investigate what solution works for you. Do a plastic audit yourself and check how you can change your consumption patterns. In your business, check out the many resources available on the Internet. Get started.

WWF Stop the flood of plastic https://www.wwf.de/fileadmin/user_upload/WWF_Plastikstudie_Hotelma%C3%9Fnahmen_eng.pdf

Rethinking single-use plastics in the tourism industry  https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/unep-wttc-report-launch-rethinking-single-use-plastic-products-travel-and-tourism

Single-use plastics: a roadmap for sustainability

https://www.unep.org/resources/report/single-use-plastics-roadmap-sustainability

3. Support plastic-free initiatives

This approach can vary. It could be a collection of signatures to pass a policy or a signing a petition that involves reducing plastic waste. Another example is participating in clean-up events. The Global Tourism Plastic Initiative unites the tourism sector towards a commitment to take action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives among other actions. The Kenya Plastic Pact works at creating a circular economy for plastic through dialogue, collaboration, and innovation.

4. Monitoring systems

Any tourism facility can implement monitoring systems. This can involve pinpointing the locations and/times where there is use or likelihood of using SUPs. Another way can be calculating the amount of plastic waste in a period of time and working towards reducing that amount.

5. Liaising with responsible suppliers

This means reaching out to suppliers that offer products and services that are environmentally friendly. It could also involve targeting customers that are environmentally conscious. For example, if you want to build an eco-lodge, check out the Alternative Supplier Directory from the Kenya Green Building Society.

6. Adopting circular thinking

This is the Reuse-Recycle-Reduce approach. Reusing means finding another purpose for the item other than what you originally used it for. For example, one could use it for an art and craft activity. Recycling means that the item is properly disposed of and taken to a recycling facility to be made into something else. This introduces waste separation which makes the waste collection process easier and more effective. Reducing means avoiding the purchase of the item when you can. Bulk purchasing can be an example. It would reduce the number of packaging used.

WORLD TOURISM DAY CELEBRATIONS

To mark World Tourism Day and month, GreenTour Kenya has had exciting events. This year’s theme; Tourism for Inclusive Growth, looks at initiating and progressing development in different areas through tourism. GreenTour has touched on the community aspect as well as the mental well-being aspect lightly. There has been engagement from CBTOs and a hopeful online campaign. Let’s take a look at the activities.

Happy World Tourism Day

“HOPE TREES” AT NGARE NDARE FOREST & TWALA TENEBO WOMEN CULTURAL CENTER

GreenTour Kenya project encouraged its participating community-based tourism organizations to put together tree planting activities to commemorate World Tourism Day.

NGARE NDARE

As the day brings different tourism entities in the entire world to focus on Tourism for Inclusive Growth, staff of this forest trust took time planting trees to symbolize hope. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic having drastic effects on the tourism sector, they are more hopeful and optimistic that the world will open up and that the future is bright. These trees of hope serve as a reminder of their resilience and how they have survived during the hard pandemic times.

Ngare Ndare tree planting exercise

TWALA TENEBO WOMEN CULTURAL CENTER

Women from the cultural center got together and spent the day planting 100 trees on their aloe farm. The women have been working together on many tourism-related activities at the cultural center. Celebrating this year’s World Tourism Day together was an additional expression of their cooperation and commitment to managing their tourism enterprise.

Tree planting activity at Twala Tenebo

TELL US YOUR STORY CAMPAIGN

Tell Us Your Story

Passing on the energy of resilience through storytelling was the objective of the online campaign. In addition, it was also a venue to share positivity and encourage one another to keep holding on to the hope of the situation getting better.

Ecotourism Kenya through the GreenTour Kenya project managed to compile a collection of eight stories from within the tourism industry in Kenya. The ranges of submissions were from individuals to tour operators and hotels. The campaign was run on our social media channels from 15th-24th of September 2021.

All the stories can be accessed on the YouTube channel of Ecotourism Kenya: @ecotourismkenya through the following link:

https://t.co/OH1FG2JrVT?amp=1