By Coast Times Reporter
Fihoni is a calm and quiet village in Kwale County sandwiched between Gogoni and Buda Forests.
Deep in the village,14 years Enock Mweni is championing environmental conservation in efforts to mitigate climate change as well as increasing forest cover.
The class seven pupil at Fihoni primary school has planted over 1400 tree seedlings of different species.
This is hard work that was inspired by an environmental program carried out by mining company Base Titanium.
Base Titanium has been running the Schools Environmental and Social Education Program (SESEP), a module that has been in existence for four years targeting students in Primary and secondary Schools.
The module, implemented in partnership with other stakeholders, has escalated efforts to conserve the environment in Kwale County
It is through the educational program that has seen Mweni venture into environment conservation which gives him good earnings in return.
He says he sells the seedlings to raise cash that goes into supporting his education.
The class seven student affirmed that the project has helped him sharpen his intrapersonal life skills that have broadened his ability to do things differently.
His mother, Catherine Nyamvula also commended the environment program saying it has transformed her son’s life.
“I am glad they came up with this program, it has saved my son from peer pressure and bad company,” she said.
Base Titanium is expected to end its mining operations by 2024, and has its rehabilitation and restoration programme in top gear.
It says SESEP is meant to educate the community on how to conserve the environment in a bid to mitigate the effect of climate change.
Students are engaged through the schools’ environment clubs to be ardent nature conservers.
Through pprogram, Base Titanium and other stakeholders have been encouraging schools to come up with modules that creates environmental awareness in schools and the community.
The program so far has been able to empower and inspire young environmentalists as well as support the establishment of environmental clubs in primary and secondary schools, providing a platform for students to learn about environment management through teaching and field activitiess.
Base Titanium environment manager Mika Muema said they have launched the program in more than 40 schools, especially those within the mining operation zones.
Muema said the program is aimed at creating awareness among young people on climate change and possible solutions for mitigating and conserving the environment.
“We have been teaching the community on environment conservation but we realized there is a need to educate children to take up the mantle,” he said.
Muema said the program is part of the many interventions taken by Base to ensure responsible and sustainable mining operations.
The learners are taught tree planting, waste management and recycling.
They do beach cleaning and general town cleaning where they collect plastic and glass garbage for recycling.
According to Mika, the students use the waste to do art which plays a crucial part in waste management.
He said through the environment projects they intend to empower the community to be responsible and take care of the environment even after Base closes operations.
Muema said the environment program is also geared towards increasing the 10 percent forest cover and food security.
He said he is glad that the project has inspired young environmentalists and that many learners have embraced environmental conservation.
He added that they managed to empower students by organizing environmental competitions and field trips to motivate them.
“We want to inculcate the culture of environmental conservation among the young generation and it is working well so far,” said Geoffrey Mwania, Base Titanium environmental superintendent.
He said that the program targets schools since it is easier for children to pass the information to the community once they have learned conservation in schools.
Mwania added that they have also been encouraging every student and locals to plant trees equivalent to their age to increase forest cover.
“We have also been engaging different groups in the effort of collecting plastic garbage from the environment and especially the beach,” he said.
Msambweni sub-county director of education Abraham Nyamawi said the school environmental program has played a key role in strengthening discipline among learners.
He said the children have become focused on their projects and studies.