Article-by Jonathan Njoroge
‘A Race to Green Energy’ is a radio (audio) documentary, about fuel energy used at a domestic level. The radio doc compares the effects of using the traditional unsustainable energies (Firewood, Paraffin, & Charcoal) to those of using Green Energies (Solar, Wind, Biomass, & Biogas). The documentary seeks to influence change from the use of traditional energy to green energy given their health, economic and environmental impacts. With a few preselected household, the story of a race to green energy has been told from an individual household experience perspective.
In April 2013, Docusound Media Literacy Program,was initiated under the ACP‐EU Support Programme to ACP Cultural Sectors implemented by the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and funded by the European Union. DOCUSOUND is a project developed byCOL’OR NGO in partnership with Kenya Union of the Blind and the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities. The program trained 15 students from Kenya on documentary production. A similar program was running in Senegal Dakar parallel to the Kenyan project. The project was geared towards empowering the selected team with basic media knowledge and skills of audio documentary production that is “telling stories from the sound point of view”. The training was to enhance sharing of more audio information on social issues affecting our societies today. The reason for emphasis on the audio documentaries, is to cater for the physically challenge (visual impaired) and the marginalized communities/individuals in a society who are otherwise, unable to use or access visual media (TV).
Among the various documentary project developed in this program was the brilliant Energy related documentary titled ‘A Race to Green Energy by Jonathan Njoroge’. The radio documentary sheds light on a relatively broad area of alternative energy by taking a comparative study on the effect of using green energy (solar ,wind, biogas, and biomass) to the use of traditional alternative energies (firewood, charcoal, paraffin). The main goal of this documentary project was to influence a shift towards a more sustainable, safe and environmentally friendly domestic fuels which in-turn improve the health, economic livelihoods, and the environment surrounding every household. The story has been told from an individual household perspective. Characters were pre-selected according to their different experiences of using both unsustainable traditional energy and having made a change to use sustainable green energy.
The Story Feature
The project has been done in a series manner, where it focused on biogas, biomass, and solar energy Verses the traditional firewood, charcoal and paraffin. The first complete episode is a 9 minutes radio documentary on biomass energy featuring Mr. Rueben, from Nakuru-Kenya who tells of the amazing benefits of shifting to Biogas energy, from firewood and charcoal. The second and third episodes are underway.
Click the link below | Listen to the first episode of the Race to Green Energy, series by Jonathan Njoroge.
Focus of the Documentary
Advocating For a Shift in Domestic Energy Use
Think about your every livelihood pattern! We have to take at least two or three meals daily and 95% of these meals are prepared using some form of fuel energy. It is therefore appropriate to appreciate that energy is part of our daily livelihoods. It is also important to understand that every form of energy one uses may have positive or negative impacts on his or her health, or on the natural environment. Charcoal, firewood, paraffin, and LPG continue to be the main sources of cooking fuel. Firewood remains the main source of cooking fuel in 68.8% of the total household in Kenya. 90% of the rural population is dependent on firewood for cooking and heating, while in urban areas, approximately 10% of the population still uses firewood. Kerosene on the other hand is mostly used by 87% of the Kenya rural households. Charcoal, firewood, and paraffin are unsustainable energies with adverse negative impact on both human health and the natural environment. Some of the visible impacts are climate change brought about by high reducing forest covers, from the high rates of deforestation in both exotic and indigenous vegetation resulting to adverse environmental effects such as desertification, and land degradation among others and long time respiratory related illness. Therefore, Energy plays an important role in many aspects of our lives, from cooking most meals we take, to lighting our houses and for our transportation among other uses and thus the need for a radical shift to sustainable (green) energy.
Access and use of Green energy
Green energy has been seen as a technical term for an expensive form of alternative energy. This is not the case given that green (sustainable) energy may be as simple as using the tradition (unsustainable) energy in a conservative and sustainable manner. For example, when using charcoal or firewood, they become sustainable when they are used in an improved energy saving- Biomass Stoves that reduces the amount of charcoal or firewood been used at a go, like in open fire cooking. These conserves more energy to cook longer thus making it sustainable. Currently at a domestic level, alternative energies have been introduced at a relatively cheap cost. For example, biogas only needs one or two cows to be able to generate gas for cooking and lighting. Solar and wind energy only needs a onetime installation and you enjoy unlimited lighting energy. There is also a lot of energy in the solid waste we produce daily. Having a special biomass stove that can be fed with biomass waste like plastic paper, dry matter and kitchen waste support environmental friendly sustainable energy. Therefore it becomes much more pocket friendly, healthier, environmentally safe and way much easier to use alternative sustainable (green) energy domestically.