Kenyatta University students drawn from the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and KUNEC members drawn from all schools in the University were invited to join H. E. President William Ruto and the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and other United Nations bodies like UNEP and Habitat on 24 February 2023, during the launch of the Nairobi Rivers Commission, and tree planting exercise in the Famous Korogocho slums people’s park in Nairobi. The launch of the Nairobi Rivers Commission is an initiative aimed at restoring the lost glory of the Kenyan capital, which the head of state said had deteriorated environmentally over the years, thus losing its ‘City in the Sun’ status of glory. The President said, for far too long, the city of Nairobi has fallen into a state of shameful, hazardous and unpleasant state of environmental and sanitary neglect. Runaway air, water, land and even noise pollution have been so normalized that there are people who have never seen the clean, green, healthy and safe City in the Sun that Nairobi used to be. In other words, commitment to the integrity of the environment is a central feature of political, economic, social and cultural life in Kenya,” the President said at the function held at the Korogocho People’s Park, situated in on of Nairobi’s biggest informal settlements.

During the launch, a 7mebers team was commissioned by the President, which included among others our very own Elizabeth wathuti from the School of Environmental Studies, Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development. The president noted that today, no one, not even the most reckless among us, could dare so much as taste the water in any stream in the Nairobi river system which he said was discolored, smelly, often corrosive and toxic. “This state of affairs must come to an end and the unsafe and unhealthy environmental situation must be corrected to restore Nairobi to its true identity. We have resolved that the city must not only reclaim its glorious reputation as Africa’s green city in the sun, but must also live up to its ancestral identity as the river of cool, fresh and safe water.” In 2019, UNEP again collaborated with the Rotary Club under the Adopt-A-River initiative, which is still going on. Likewise, UN Habitat, in collaboration with the government, undertook the Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative” the head of state said.

A photo of KUNE Students during the launch of the Nairobi Rivers Commission

President Ruto lauded the United Nations- especially the two programmes based in Nairobi UN-Habitat and UNEP for their leading role in the Commission. “In 2019, UNEP again collaborated with the Rotary Club under the Adopt-A-River initiative, which is still going on. Likewise, UN Habitat, in collaboration with the government, undertook the Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative” the head of state said. Wanjira Mathai from the Water Resource Institute mentione­d that the local communities adjacent to the Rivers of Nairobi should be involved in the regeneration by involving them, amplifying their voices, and scaling up their innovations. The community groups present showcased their innovative waste recycling technologies and the urban Agriculture innovations that can be tapped from the river regeneration programme. Tree planting and a nature walk along Nairobi River also took place lead by the Komb green solutions, a youth-based community group. The students had an opportunity to see for themselves the level of pollution of the river and echoed the tree planting and clean up initiative being launched. They appreciated the invitation, saying that it has really helped them increase their momentum of environmental conservation especially in waste management. They thanked the University for that Opportunity and wished to be invited next time there will be a cleanup and tree planting exercise.

 

Acknowledgement

Kenyatta University.

Executive Dean School of Environmental Studies.

Office of the School Administrator.