Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adapting to the climatic change

Mr. Peter Ombega is a Kibera resident who has been living here for more than 20 years. I paid him a visit at his home in Katwekera village early this week with a mission to find out how he has adopted to the impact of climate change.  Upon arrival at his home, I quickly notice a black gadget mounted on one of the rusty roof tops of one of the houses in front of his. The gadget is called Solvatten (Swedish for Sun Water) and black in color. After exchanging greetings, he takes me through its use. “The gadget looks like a jerrycan, and how it works is that one needs to open all caps and fill water using the black openings. You press the yellow button, then make sure all caps are tightly closed and place the open Solvatten gadget facing the sun. Treatment takes 2-6 hours and an indicator will turn green in color meaning that a treatment is complete as simple as one two three,” were Ombega's sentiments after taking me through this gadget.

Field Coordinator Phanice Maina and Peter Ombega
In a move to sensitize local residents in adopting to climate changes trends Solvatten came in with special jerricans that can heat water for purification purposes. This being one of the ways of preserving the environment by giving safe water to the users. The Solvatten project is a Swedish invention and funded by Nordic climate facility which is a group of countries including Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden that have been working with different countries of the world.

Solvatten on a Kibera rooftop
This project came about in Kibera following a research that was conducted in the year 2008 on disaster risk analysis on some of the contributing factors that affect the community in relation to climate change impacts regarding water. According to the Geoffrey Kimiti, Programmes Coordinator of the Institute of Environment and Water Management (IEWM) the major factor in Kibera included environmental hygiene. “When you look at the state of sanitation, the state of waste management, and the infrastructure around makes people more vulnerable, were some of the major reasons we thought of Kibera,”says Geoffrey Kimiti.

The motivation behind targeting the Kibera community was to adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Secondly, the device highlights the resident’s role in mitigation of climate change by cutting usage of charcoal and paraffin in high quantities to boil water.  This reduces the amount of carbon put up in the atmosphere so as by the end of the day the environment remains safe. By doing so, less trees are cut down and less carbon dioxide goes up in the skies.

The gadget also provides a livelihood strengthening project in the sense that, some few community based organizations involved are allowed to nominate their own distributors whom receive training and thereafter sell Solvatten jerricans in Kibera. “For every Solvatten sold, at a price of Ksh 1,000 ($12 USD), the distributors will earn Ksh 200, Ksh.700 goes back to the manufacturer, and Ksh.100 goes to the community based organization,” notes Kimiti.

Solvatten distributors Phanice Maina and Janye Kariuki 
Phanice Maina has been working as one of the Solvatten distributors since the month of September last year.  She notes that her task is to walk around Kibera slums and sell it to the locals here. She acts as a sales person in the sense that, she does explain its usage for better understanding so that people can purchase it for environmental conservation purposes. “Even though people would love to own Solvatten, many are challenged economically and cannot afford to purchase it. But I do encourage them that one day they can also buy one of their own,” notes Phanice.

As I finalize on my interviews, Ombega shares his final sentiments, how Solvatten has changed his life and that of his family. “Before I started using it, my family used to fall sick with waterborne diseases like cholera.  Now that is a past history to recall and all water we use is much safer as I also help preserve the environment, and cut costs of visiting the clinic for treatment” notes Ombega.

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