Water is a scarce resource in Kenya, and it can be a source of conflict. The Smart Water for Green Schools project, which previously established rainwater harvesting tanks and the separate children’s latrine facilities for boys and girls at the schools in Kamara and Mau Summit, has now completed the latest water project. This is the newly built teachers’ toilet facilities, which includes a rainwater tank, at the Kamara Primary and Secondary School, sponsored by Pureology Sweden. The Kamara project includes the provision of basic sanitary materials. It is reported that due to the sanitation facilities at the Kamara School they have now opened a secondary school.

Oct. 21, 2014: The Smart Water for Green Schools Teachers’ Toilet at Kamara Primary and Secondary School. Photo:TM

Parents in the region have taken their children out of other schools and placed them at Kamara, due to the increased access to water and sanitation, as well as other project activities. The water projects help to boost the well being of the community, by providing access to safe drinking water, increased hygiene and sanitation, thus supporting the peace initiative from another angle. The Smart Water for Green Schools projects are located at communities who were engaged in direct conflict with each other, during the post-election violence of 2007-2008, where they suffered tragedy.

Oct. 21, 2014: The Kamara Teachers’ Toilet Committee is made up of the school faculty and parents. Here they are amongst those gathered to meet representatives from Green Cross and the Green Belt Movement. Photo: TM

A green ribbon cutting ceremony and the planting of Peace Trees took place on October 21st, 2014 to inaugurate the new teacher’s Smart Water for Green Schools facility, with the visit of representatives from Green Cross Sweden and the Green Belt Movement. Here a large community gathering was held with hundreds of people, young and old, who included the Kamara School faculty, the Kamara Teachers’ Toilet Committee, parents and students. This event concluded with song, dance and presentations from the students, as well as speeches about their work for community peace building.
During 2012 there was momentum and change on the establishment of the Wangari Maathai Peace Park, in Molo Town. With the new constitutional governing process and the structure of the local governance had changed, whereby there was a transition in the managing of the development of the park from the Molo Town Council. The park was the location of the first Children’s Peace Festival 2013, which aimed to influence the region to support a peaceful election campaign period. Funding for the Wangari Maathai Peace Park was made possible the Green Cross Sweden Youth’s Peace and Trees
Project and their benefit concert Treevening, held in Göteborg, Sweden in 2010.

Oct. 21, 2014: The trees here, now over 3 meters high, once began as tiny seedlings in 2010 at the Mau Summit School. Photo:TM

Initially the park, built in Molo Town, was on public land, which brought many challenges, including the lack of engagement from the community, whereby a lack of coordinated logistic support from other partners and there occurred theft of building materials. The issue of security was initially vested in the now defunct county council, who later on pulled out and stated that GBM needs to foot all security agent bills (day and night), including a construction for sanitation.

Oct. 21st, 2014: One of the new architects for the Wangari Maathai Peace Park, now under construction at the Kipsyenan Secondary School. Photo:TM

Green Belt Movement in consultation with stakeholders, including the Rift Valley Regional Peace Forum and Kipsyenan Secondary School, agreed that the Park be relocated and built at the Kipsyenan School, to ensure security and sense of responsibility. The School Board of Governors, from the surrounding communities, held a meeting and signed an agreement with GBM. The new Wangari Maathai Peace Park is in progress under the supervision of GBM, the Kipsyenan School and local Peace Building Committees. A gathering was held at the Kipsyenan Secondary School, on October 21st, 2014, with representatives from the Green Cross and Green Belt Movement, together with the school’s teacher faculty and students.

Oct. 22, 2014: Students at the newly joined school of Kimira, where they have planted 2000 Peace Trees. Photo.TM

Here the youth at the Kipsyenan School learned of the story behind the Wangari Maathai Peace Park, which was started by a group of 18 years old girls in Sweden. This inspired the students to hear about the achievements of others their own age, especially the girls.
Tonia Moya, President of Green Cross Sweden, travelled to Rift Valley, Kenya to document the sustainable communities’ project sites, as well as the Smart Water for Green Schools project. Together she travelled with the GBM Team: Aisha Karanja, Executive Director of the Green Belt Movement, Teresa Muthoni, GBM Program Officer, and John Waishinga, a volunteer for the Peace Sports activities. The team travelled to the different sites and villages in the Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro and Rongai Districts.

Meetings were held with hundreds of persons from the communities at the various site locations. There the team met representatives from the Peace Building Councils, school boards, local villages, including elders and youth. These gatherings included members of the Children’s Peace Clubs, and winners of the Children Peace Festival. The team travelled to Njoro, Mauche, Mau Summit, Kamara and Rongai, to document the peace sports clubs, the sites of food security initiatives, as well as the developments of the Wangari Maathai Peace Park. A good example of the sustainability of the project are the indigenous Peace Trees once planted in 2010, in the empty field at the Mau Summit School, which are now growing into a forest.

Oct. 21, 2014: The Principle of the Kamara Schools plants a Peace Tree to mark the opening of the Smart Water for Green Schools Teachers’ Toilets. Photo: TM