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.
Youth and Environment: A Call for Action
By Jonathan N
There are different avenue where the youths today can actively engaged in environmental activities. Today, awareness, and active participation in environmental issues is prime for organizations, companies, and the government. Public and private Participation in environmental action has been mainly through Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR). For some companies, it has been an income generative avenue through trading in environmental commodities or green products, thus automatically being engaged in various environmental supportive actions. As concerns about the environment peaks with the alarming facts on Climate Change and Global Warming, organization are forced to look back at their footprints and choose to rectify through innovative environmental friendly decision. The wave of environmental consciousness is silently sinking into the private and public sector. The part remains for individual citizens to act independently in support of various Calls-For-Environmental-Actions.
Youths in Kenya hold a high ideological and innovative aspect of contributing to environmental action. Nevertheless, the majority of school/university going youths understand that environmental action is gaining popularity but have no clue on how they can get in on the action. The social media is playing a huge role in information sharing thus every youth has an idea of what is trending on the environmental issue. The challenge is getting hands-on real time environmental action and actually doing something about it. Some organization have their hands-on environmental CSR action, some in funding environmental initiatives, and others in ensuring their companies, operation processes, surrounding and output products are eco friendly. For the individual citizen away from a monthly paycheck or in university or even one looking for a job, they avenue to participate in environmental action is far off their reach.
According Green plus Kenya, the newly launched Participatory Environmental Action platform seeks to involve the individual citizens/youths/women groups in various environmental actions. This platform seeks to contribute toward a common national goal of ensuring a well-managed and sustainable environment for all.
One of its current action plan is the “Do Something” contest; An African Dance-Song Competition, to sing for nature. The entertainment-based awareness and sensitization challenge, targets youths (universities students), registered under environmental clubs to come out and Do Something for Nature. This call for action’s main object is to sensitization youths and the nation at large on the need to care for Mother Nature and do something for the environment. For example plant a tree, educate children about nature, reduce pollution and campaign against polluters, advocacy for better environment policies, recycle waste, or use alternative energy. The ultimate point here is, “Do Something, for the environment around you first”
About ‘Do Something’ Contest
“Do Something”(DS) is an inter-university competition initiated by Green Plus Kenya. It is geared toward creating awareness and promoting general public participation in environmental issue in communities around Kenya. “Do Something” is a project where university students in various environmental clubs get to compose a Dance-Song for Nature with an African Rhythm, and present it on an environmental gala function. The selected participating University Clubs get to show case their environmental Dance-Song and the best top 3 clubs awarded with an eco-trip, solar powered laptops among other cash prize awards. The fun-filled, entertaining and environmentally educative competition seeks to enable participation of youths in various environmental actions, advocacy, sensitization and awareness creation campaigns for our natural environment, through Singing for Nature
Its Objectives are; first, to create awareness and sensitization among the youths towards environmental consciousness. Secondly, to enable active participation of youths in environmental action through singing for nature and thirdly, to influence a social-environmental change through youths in schools/universities
For more information about the DS contest (Click Here)
The National Wind Energy Plan
Kenya, like the rest of the world, is on the first track adopting alternative energy, and has been in the spotlight for it brilliant national wide wind power plan. The Kenya power company future speculation is of a high growth of the business & industrial sector thus escalation the need for energy yet the supply of grid power is unsustainable. Wind Energy becomes one of the most sustainable energy solutions for any developing nation. Grid electricity from hydropower over time has become costly yet unreliable…
High installation cost, inadequate hydro-logical data, effects of climate change and limited local capacity to manufacture small hydro-power (Institution of Economic Affairs July 24, 2013) impede exploitation of small-scale hydro electricity
Due to inadequate supply of power to rural areas and increased poverty to afford grid power, there is a significant shift to non-traded traditional biomass fuels. The proportion of households consuming biomass has risen to 83% from 73% in 1980. Wind power on the other hand has been integrated at a national grid power level but has not had a significant footprint on the rural domestic households. Today Kenya has already sent up significant wind power station that are already supplying to the main power grid, these are the 550 kilowatts installed at Ngong hills and Marsabit and generating about 0.4 gig watt hours (GWh). A major 300MW wind project is underway in the Lake Turkana region.
Kenya is ranked fifth in the world and first in Africa in wind power generation
Moving To a Domestic Wind Energy Plan
Wind power is reliable; nevertheless, it varies from area to area. Borrowing from the wind energy resource atlas of Kenya we can acquire information about the wind potential in various part of Kenya, initiating a domestic wind energy plan becomes simplified. Rural electrification in Kenya is still struggling to take grid power to more areas, lighting every Conner of the country but has not cover all rural areas yet. Adapting to domestic wind energy would be the best to ensure everyone in the country can access power for simple domestic energy needs, like lighting, charging the phone, playing the radio.
Static show that rural domestic Households in Kenya source 87 percent of their energy for lighting from Kerosene fuel (https://energypedia.info/wiki/Kenya_Energy_Situation#Energy_Situation). Biogas energy likewise has had a significant rise to 83% from 73% in 1980 as cooking fuel.
About 25% of the country is compatible with current wind energy technology, this means that wind energy can be adopted at a domestic level where individual households can install small wind pump enough to generated wind power to charge phone, to light the house, power the TV and radio, power a flat iron, heat up the house in a cold season among others
For more information on the available domestic size wind power pumps and turbine visit Permalink: https://greenpluskenya.com/green-projects/ges-projects/wind-energy/
Journalism at a Glance
Journalism is quite an interesting field that is taking over the youth job market at a very high rate. With media houses out looking for news coverage updates at every corner of the nation and world in real time, is enabling journalist at given exclusive location, covering specific news features, a higher ground in this competitive market.
One of the uncovered areas of journalism, mostly in the African setup is in the field of environment. The public (media houses and their audience) perceive environmental news as the ordinary weather forecast reports done in brief, several times in a day after the main news.
The Environment is basicaly our natural surrounding | Environmental journalism is basically reporting changes brought about human’s past and current interaction with the natural environment
The Environment is our natural surrounding and how we relate to it in our everyday activities creates change. This ‘relationship’ with the environment is what make relevant news and information, that needs to be shared on real time basis. Environment is interrelated with various aspect of our day today livelihoods. For example, pollution from the cars we drive everyday, the dumping of unwanted waste materials in the sea and oceans, desertification through trees we have cut down for firewood, climate change and its effects on agriculture leading to hunger among others. All this interrelated dots make up Environmental News.
Reporting on Environment
Unlike most current events, environmental news issues and scenes may at-times unfold gradually. This is what has made most journalist not to specialize in the environmental news field. Rather most journalist opt to report news on politics that come ‘hot’ on everyday headlines, thus leaving a gap in the environmental news coverage. The fact that environmental news needs investigative coverage, use of past and current facts to produce a feature or a documentary, most journalist tend to shy away from that line.
Personally, I find environmental journalism a fascinatingly favorable field to venture and report on, through production of documentaries and news features.
Environmental journalism is like covering as story in its current state of events through relating and uncovering a cold case that has been silent all along and drawing a scientific trend or conclusion. When you establish the connection, the story comes to life in a brilliantly spectacular manner
Cultivating Freelance Environmental Journalist
Personally, I think that the greatest challenge facing environmental journalism in Africa is the lack adequate tools and knowledge to gather and report environments stories in a more interest manner for the audience. The audience today is rather unaware of the gradual environmental changes taking place around them unless it is a headline story of an environmental disaster.
Africa needs to cultivate specialized environmental journalist who can uncover and report environmental news through relating with past environmental events and changes. Then they will be empowered to produce creative, captivating and informative headline news from factual data and real-time environment occurrences.
Jonathan- Green Plus
..could such BIG TIME investment be a little overwhelming for a developing nation? Wind & Solar Energy are paving way to the future, curving a cross cutting edge for sustainability. This is what young and developing countries need. Over past early years of the 19s, alternative renewable energy, has note been seen as achievable at a larger scale. Today developed countries (US being at the forefront) have made the goal of alternative & renewable(green) energies achievable at an extremely large scale than ever. This will be the ultimate solution to the energy sector and more so at a very cheap cost in the future. The developing nations needs to catch the wave.
It is amazing how this great, global event has pulled together a spectacular, audience all around the world. uniting people to be conscious of their environment. On the 29th of march 2014, we see many nations coming up to show they are united in the Earth Hour moment. This spectacular event & moment of action, brings forth a call for all people to be conscious of their environmental through simple actions like embarrassing alternative renewable energy to conserving the environment.
A life changing lesson, brings us to a new world of Radio Journalism.
what an inspiring documentary project
I not only saw this project as a brilliant idea but also as a call for action, to the Kenyan community to ensure that this project is a success. It might seem just another environmental documentary series, but i can a sure you that such a project can yield so much knowledge and information about our waste management issues from the source to the final dumping site. Exposing our collective waste management failure, providing solution and enlightening the Kenyan community on innovations in the solutions.