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The Role of the Internet in Environmental Conservation - Mazingira Safi Initiative
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Mobile phone penetration in Kenya has crossed the 100% mark. This is according to the Communications Authority of Kenya, which also stated that customer subscription has hit 46.6 million. Yes, you read that right. 46.6 million Kenyans have a mobile phone. In addition to that, internet penetration is at a whooping 84% with 43.3 million Kenyans having access to the internet. This number will perhaps increase further as the leading internet provider in Kenya has slashed internet bundles costs by 42%. The high penetration of mobile phones means that more and more of us have access to the global village, something which is very exciting. When it comes to environmental conservation, what role can the internet (or should we say social internet) play? Here are three.

  • It creates awareness on environmental matters.

Through the internet, we’re able to know what is happening in our environment and as soon as it happens. Using the Lamu Coal Plant as an example, people living far from Lamu County were aware of the plans to build a coal plant, something which will be devastating for our country. While traditional media (TV and newspapers) did a play a role in bringing the news to us, it wouldn’t have been able to constantly update Kenyans of the happenings on the ground. Through social media, the opposers of the coal plant who have access to phones and internet in Lamu did, and they got social backing from not only Kenya but the world in general. Eventually, the coal plant licence was cancelled. What a celebration we had.

  • It promotes environmental education.

You want to find out something about the environment? Just whip out your phone and google it. The problem you’ll have won’t be the lack of information. It will be how to sieve it so as to get what’s relevant to you! The internet has brought the library to the world. Today, one doesn’t need to see an expert to find educative materials on the environment. On the web, you’ll get what you need from experts in your local country at the click of a button and as well as from international experts. One is also able to access online school libraries and read expert and peer reviewed papers. Additionally, through it, you’re also able to share what you’ve learnt with the world through blogs, vlogs and whatnot. Power to the internet! Yay!

  • It encourages and drives positive action.

The latest environmental news have been anything but positive. In fact, many news outlets tend to focus on the negative things happening in the environment leaving us feeling hopeless. However, after a quick search on the internet, one is likely to find stories of people doing something good for the environment. Using myself as an example, when I felt the need to address the issue of litter in the environment, I used the internet to find what people were doing around the world that I could emulate. After reading a lot about community involvement through cleanups, Mazingira Safi Initiative was formed. We’ve since used internet and social media to spread the good environmental cheer and have involved over 2000 volunteers in our activities. Using the Lamu Coal Plant as an example again, many were able to create and sign petitions against it. People can also apply for funding for their environmental projects and organizations, and others can help by donating resources towards a particular environmental cause in cases where they aren’t able to do anything about it by virtue of distance or something else.

There’s a lot that we’ve been able to achieve as a result of internet advancement. And there’s a lot more that we can do. Nonetheless, we should be careful not to err so much on clicktivism. It is a good starting point, very comfortable too, but sometimes, we’ve got to get our hands dirty for some environmental protection progress to be visible and sustainable… And we have an opportunity for you to do exactly that.

Join us for this month’s cleanup at RingRoad Kilimani on Saturday, 27th July from 9am to 1pm. While clicktivism would be nice, your presence would be more valuable. Find out more here.

Main image: Konker

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