Monday, 15 October 2007

Kenya and the environment part1

Right, today I'm blogging about the environment as part of the Blog Action Day organised by these guys . Just jumped on the bandwagon, as I'm passionate about the environment and the consequences of our actions on it, and I thought it was a great idea for thousands if not millions of bloggers to blog about something so important all on the same day, so here goes...

On my most recent visit to Kenya (my first visit as a Green Living convert), I could not help but notice how much plastic there was everywhere I went. In the city, you shop, and automatically the shopping is packed in a flimsy plastic bag. Loads of these used bags once unusable were mostly chucked anywhere, and needless to say, there were loads all over the streets and well, it does not look pretty. Rubbish heaps that get burnt to keep the amount of rubbish down was full of them, and one can only imagine the amount of dioxins and other bad gases emitted as a result. Still bits of plastic bags were all over the place, and it's not a pretty sight! As a result, I hate plastic even more, and I hope more and more people will realise how ugly they are in comparison to beautifully woven baskets and jute bags AND cute cloth bags too!

And plastic bottles - they were all over the place as well! I couldn't help but wish there were recycling facilities where all this plastic could be recycled. Maybe there are recycling facilities, but people are not aware of them - my family were not aware of any in their local area. Most people are not aware of why the plastic would be better off reduced, reused and then recycled. By default, things tend to be reused, especially if they are being bought, due to the money saving option, but there is no conscious knowledge of the importance of doing this, and the flimsy bags which are provided free take away the need to reuse anyway, as they are not paid for.

Anyway, off I went to the countryside to visit grandma and everyone else, and well, people use battery powered electronic goods due to lack of electricity. I was struck by the amount of batteries used and chucked any which way once they were spent, and thought, 'oh dear, the lead, mercury etc!'. I mean, you just have to dig a small piece of land and you'll uncover an old battery, with the chemicals within it all spilt out and all that's left to recognise that that was a battery is the metal in it and the greyish/black powder and maybe a bit of the *eveready* logo. A good number of these also end up in the pit latrines.

Speaking of pit latrines... and this is a change of subject - I've been reading my new John Seymour book on self sufficiency, and been thinking that actually, many people in the deep countryside in Kenya are already 1/3 to 2/3 self sufficient if they have the land to tend and the animals. What I've been thinking is,the majority however are not aware that they can actually live very good quality comfortable lives that way with just a little planning and education. I mean, take grandma for instance - she has masses of land, most of it is actually very, VERY underused. She keeps cattle, goats, sheep and chickens, and grows her crops the traditional way, meaning if the rains failed, or was too much, crops fail making it necessary to buy. And when it gets so bad people have to buy, the prices are so elevated, it's so wrong, but what does one do? Either buy or starve! The majority of people are the same. With some education on maximising water harvesting, composting and manuring, correct storage etc, the vast resources would be so well used to make the average household well fed all year long.

I was telling Mr Jac earlier that I'd love to take 6 months to a year's sabbatical and go back home and get a small holding going there, and show people that it is possible. It would be a huge project and I'd have to keep a very close eye on it to make sure it works, and it wouldn't be easy, by any means at all, but it is possible. A lot of capital would be needed of course, to get the necessary things like water tanks, storage etc built, and to ensure the necessary anti waste systems are in place for catching and sanitising gray water for example and for building composting loos. Oh how I wish I was thinking this way years ago! Still, I'm young, I'm blessed with good health, and God willing in a few years time, I'll be able to realise this dream, so here it is in print. I just hope I'll have good internet access so I can log in and ask for advice from my online friends when the time comes and I'm there and I get stuck on something.