Category Archives: Environmental Education


The leadership of tomorrow is a symbol of victory over the challenges of tomorrow, and to achieve that, we need to sufficiently equip our children for the future to come. Apparently, it would require everyone’s part in committing themselves to provide and facilitate the knowledge about our environment. That is what the Environmental Education Programme at A Rocha Kenya is doing as a weekly activity. To work towards raising awareness on the environment in Watamu including the Marine Protected Area, A Rocha Kenya is now facilitating environmental education to more than 10 primary schools.

The week kicks off with a simple lesson plan preparation for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the volunteers and interns at A Rocha Kenya discuss and plan to visit each school and facilitate the EE lessons. Last week we had wonderful and lively lessons on the Intertidal Zone, whereby the Wildlife Club members from each school had an amazing experience at the beach in Watamu Marine National Park. The idea of taking the pupils for a walk on the beach or simply having the lessons outside the class setting and playing games, has been quite remarkable. There is the feeling of nature and actual experience with the information communicated to them.










It is arguably true that majority of the children in this generation are disconnected with nature, and A Rocha Kenya has been keen to realize the need to intervene. The significance of imparting this young generation with environmental education and more so, outdoor learning, comes with lots of benefits which cuts across pupils’ well-being like boosting performance in school and raising test scores, as well as encouraging them to adopt conservation skills as a career path on environmental conservation. Nevertheless, the communities are proud of the insight shared to the children and come in handy as a participatory activity to assist everybody in maintaining a healthy environment.

“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.”

Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”




Have you ever thought about the coral reef habitat? Coral reefs are rocky mounds and/or ridges formed in the sea by small animals known as coral polyps through the accumulation and deposition of limestone (calcium carbonate). The “rain forests of the ocean,” coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots that make up less than 1% of the marine environment but are home to 25% of the ocean’s marine life. Coral reefs are of great importance in the ecosystem. They are the second richest biodiversity of any habitat in the world, feeding grounds, nursery ground and shelter for many organism including turtles, sea snakes, triggerfish, parrotfish, nudibranchs (a colourful type of sea slug), crustaceans, hermit crabs and sharks. Aside from their stunning beauty and rich marine life, coral reefs provide protection to coastal communities from shoreline erosion and chemical compounds extracted from coral are used in medicine for cancer and other diseases. Coral reefs are threatened by pollution, careless boat anchoring, high turbidity from poor farming practices upstream and climate change causing coral bleaching.

Given this background, A Rocha Kenya’s marine research and environmental education teams saw it fit to develop a Marine Environmental Education Manual specifically tailored for the Watamu Marine Protected Area to create awareness and address the conservation of the aforementioned habitat and the rest of the marine ecosystem. It will be used by both teachers and students in learning more about their marine ecosystem, which they readily interact with and are dependent upon.  This was done in partnership with two other organizations which are; Local Ocean Trust: Watamu Turtle Watch and African Bill fish Foundation together with the patrons to the environmental clubs selected from the eight schools that are part of the program.

The visits to the schools were interactive, fun filled and eye opening for the students, with the activity known as “the egg-carton coral activity” being intriguing and exciting. Through it, the students could easily relate to how a coral reef is built, the two ways in which corals feed and how corals behave at night and during the day. Apart from the school visits, we invited one school for a rock pooling activity at the beach in front of Mwamba. It brought the students to attention about the diversity of life in the rock pools.

The teachers were also engaged through two workshops with the first geared towards disseminating as much knowledge as possible regarding the marine ecosystem. The second saw the teachers’ capacity built on how to conduct an environmental education lesson followed by familiarization and interactions with the marine biodiversity through various activities that they could adopt and practice them back at school with their clubs, such as crab surveys, beach sand art, making an organic tower, swimming, night rock pooling and a snorkeling trip to the Watamu coral gardens.

The schools are now closed for the April holidays marking the end of term one with the lessons we conducted having managed to reach out to two hundred and forty four (244) children from eight schools near the Watamu Marine Protected Area. Two main topics were covered that is, the coral reef habitat and the intertidal area.


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired at the end of last year and now everyone is trying to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  SDGs are more globally collaborative and inclusive compared to MDGs and therefore more promising. You move to a seminar room and write MDG or SDG, everyone starts thinking of the United Nations and other big multinational organizations. Here at A Rocha Kenya, we have been working to demystify this and appreciate the potential that all of us, whether young or old, have to help achieve these goals by thinking globally but acting locally.

Young People on the Global Stage (YPGS) is a project that engages students and teachers to address some of these Sustainable Development Goals and here in Nairobi A Rocha Kenya (ARK) has been working with three secondary schools as part of the project.  Between 15th and 18th February this year the project study visit took place and the ARK Nairobi team were delighted to host teachers from the UK, Spain and The Gambia for this event.


The main aim of the study visit was to exchange ideas, share experiences and knowledge on sustainable development Issues and to hold a workshop towards resource development and a final communiqué by the young people. Over the duration of the week, the visitors together with the ARK team embarked on day trip activities and meetings in a bid to facilitate collaborative learning. The multicultural perspectives ensured unlimited conversations and sessions on sustainable development.


The most intense day of the visit was on Monday which began with a visit to A Rocha Kenya’s Karara field study centre where Dr. Magambo, the National Director gave an overview of A Rocha Kenya followed by a tour to the tree nursery and demonstration plots to learn about conservation agriculture (Farming God’s Way). This was followed by a visit to Oloolua block of the Ngong Forest where they engaged with farmers and Community Forest Association (CFA) members to see the work of ARK with communities. From there they proceeded to the Ngong Hills for a hike and a picnic lunch. The day rounded off with a trip to Lenana School where members of the Environmental Club steering committee led the group on a tour of the school, showcasing and explaining their environmental conservation efforts.


The reminder of the week was a series of trips to other organizations engaged in sustainable development. This included a visit to the Giraffe Centre, New Life Home Trust baby rescue centre, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Dagoretti Special School, Marula Studios and Tangaza University College in smaller groups of five. On Wednesday the YPGS-ARK team met to plan for the workshop on Thursday. Another group had a chance to visit Kibera slums to see the challenges faced by residents and how they try to overcome those challenges. It was interesting to note that the population of Kibera is bigger than the population of The Gambia!


The most memorable moment was the inspiring story by Musa Abdi Galma, an alumnus of Lenana school Environmental club, who shared passionately about his background, the challenges he witnessed in his area when he was a child, his love for the environment and the unstoppable strides he is making towards conservation. His eloquent, , but real story left everyone amazed, challenged and convinced that indeed young people could be agents and drivers of change rather than just victims, enemies or witnesses of the same.

The culmination of the week was the teachers’ workshop on the Thursday, which involved teachers from all four countries, along with ARK staff, coming together to produce teaching materials on three major themes: Poverty and Wealth, Hunger and Food Production and Sustainable Development. At the end of the session we were given the task of completing, over the next few months, resources which can be used cross culturally with sections specific to the curriculums of each participating country.

For all of us at ARK, the study visit week was an amazingly rich time of learning from and sharing with our project partners from other parts of the world and a great encouragement in our aim to see lives transformed as we work for the conservation and sustainable development of our wonderful, God given natural world.


Imagine, you are in a nature trail, sitting on a bench, under a tree completely immersed in a book, that absolute focus such that you feel you are in your own realm. In the background, you can hear the whistles and chirps of birds, the gushing wind brushing off your face and you feel it tickle your cheek bones, above you, the overlapping canopies of the trees cover you from the scorching sun and its unwavering rays and in the distant you can almost hear the trickling of a stream. “This must be nature at its best,” you whisper to yourself. Amidst all this your mind drifts into depths of your childhood, a childhood which reminds you of a curious mind, a mind that has that magical capacity to move among many eras of the earth, to see the land as an animal sees, to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower, a bee or even a snake, to feel the earth quiver and breath beneath you, to know hundred different smells of the earth and to listen to the rustling of leaves when the wind makes contact with them, as if to assert its arrival. Then, you realize you are in utter bliss.

Moving on to reality, there is need for the young children who are growing up to be educated on the environment so as to cultivate a positive curiosity that will drive them to conserve and protect their environment so that in reality they can witness the above imagination. Barlow, in Confluence of Streams, puts it nicely: “children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for nature. Properly cultivated, these values can turn into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.”

The previous year saw, A Rocha Kenya conduct environmental education lessons in various primary and secondary schools that saw them visit some around the Watamu Marine National Park, those adjacent to Dakatcha woodland and Arabuko Sokoke Forest and finally some in Bamba. All these activities culminated with the holding of a children festival at Mwamba Field Study center where a group of almost seventy were hosted taking part in rock pooling where they familiarized themselves with the intertidal rocky shores biodiversity and its significance, environmental education activities and eventually recreational activities such as swimming and beach games. An activity that the team has mentioned should be conducted on a regular basis.

Flash forward, to the New Year, 2016. The environmental education team has continued with its school outreach program. We have an ambitious plan where we aim to introduce birding into the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya which they normally conduct the lessons to, in different schools bordering Arabuko Sokoke Forest. In addition, they are developing a marine environmental education manual accompanied by several workshops for the club patrons of schools adjacent to the Watamu Marine National Park so as to encourage more awareness about the conservation of marine biodiversity which is rarely covered. Further, they are still going to cover schools adjacent to Dakatcha Woodland and Bamba. A busy year it seems.


The past weeks has seen the team visit a total of seven schools. Beginning with marine environmental education (Coral Reefs) at Chipande Primary School. A visit that harshly welcomed the team back to the year and the reality of work -you might wonder what I mean- Let me digress and indulge you; the team had a new driver, actually a member of the team had got his driving license at the end of the last year and apparently Stanley who was supposed to be driving forgot his license. Anyway, moving on, under the strict guidance of Stanley he successfully managed to drive the team to the school albeit slowly, at least they reached on time and getting to the destination it is what always matters, right? The lesson went well followed by a quick visit to the nearby Uyombo beach and the team embarked on their journey back- filled with hope and satisfaction of a job well done and having set a good precedent for the start of the year.


The team has since visited Mida, Kahingoni, Vitengeni, Kanani, Jacaranda and Mzizima primary schools where the lessons have been about ornithology and marine biodiversity depending on where the school is located.

The team has now fully gotten immersed in their work, oozing the aura of an unwavering spirit ready to see the next generation take action after knowing the significance and consequences of caring for their environment.


Conservationists of all persuasions have embarked on a quest for environmental sustainability but in the face of an acutely difficult task we all need to consider what would motivate us to achieve it”- Peter Harris (Kingfisher’s Fire).

In retrospect, the motivation for the previous year for the A Rocha Kenya team can certainly be traced to the reinforcement of the Christian principles already upheld by the staff. This was instilled and fueled by the bible studies conducted every Monday morning which inspired and rallied the team to take care of God’s creation as alluded to in the book of Genesis, despite their job descriptions. It was further propelled by the visit of the A Rocha Founder- Peter Harris and his wife, Miranda Harris. They were able to be involved in the A Rocha Kenya’s activities and in turn they motivated the team and inspired many more in churches at Nairobi and Malindi through preaching the gospel of care for creation, by emphasizing the need for Christians to reconcile with God and his creation and ensuring restoration of God’s creation

Focusing on the Science and Conservation team, they were able to get a lot of research work going on. Despite being a team of two, they still soldiered on with support from numerous volunteers, interns and even the rest of the staff members. The terrestrial research team was able to conduct several bird ringing exercises held at Mwamba, Gede Ruins, Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. The annual water fowl counts were successfully carried out followed by many others at Mida Creek. One of the major highlights was mapping of the newly acquired Kirosa Scott Reserve and the monitoring of the endangered Clarke’s weaver breeding sites in Dakatcha Woodland. The team was also able to host several researchers.

IMG_9327 (640x427)

Moving on to the marine side of things, the year marked a beehive of activities for the team ranging from research in the intertidal rock pools to the coral gardens of Watamu Marine Park. The major highlight of the year was the presentation of marine research work that has been conducted by A Rocha Kenya since the year 2010 until the end of 2014 in the Watamu Marine Park. This was spearheaded by Benjamin Cowburn and Peter Musembi. They organized workshops at Watamu, Mombasa and Nairobi where several stakeholders were invited including Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, National Museums of Kenya, Watamu Marine Association, Watamu Turtle Watch and boat operators. However, it was not all hard work and no play for the marine team, there was always the occasional recreational snorkeling and swimming for anyone willing to join.


The larger Community and Conservation team worked to bridge the gap between the research team and the community at large, getting them to understand the need to restore the threatened habitats and ecosystems. The team was able to oversee the implementation of two projects into fruition, with one targeting empowerment of community forest associations (community groups who are actively involved in management and conservation of forests) through building their capacities and the other targeted empowering communities in Dakatcha Woodland through a livelihood project that promoted the adoption of Farming God’s Way (a conservation agriculture model). On the other hand, the pioneer program of the department-ASSETS, which has stood the test of time, was able to disburse scholarships to the many bright and needy students that come from the villages adjacent to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, amid a difficult year for the tourism industry since most of the funds are sourced from the ecotourism facilities at Mida Creek and Gede Ruins. Lastly, the vibrant environmental education team was able to conduct many lessons that were taught in schools around Dakatcha Woodland, Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Watamu Marine Park and Bamba.


The mother of all- Mwamba Field Study Center, was able to host numerous guests throughout the year. They included researchers, volunteers, holiday makers, kite surfers and honeymooners. The year saw the center introduce a restaurant which is up and running, offer accommodation to water sports enthusiasts, host numerous workshops and to crown it all hold a kids festival followed by a successful fundraising dinner for the ASSETS program.


Karara Field Study Center-which acts as the national base of A Rocha Kenya at Karen in Nairobi did not lag behind. The team was able to conduct numerous Farming God’s Way training, host several schools for environmental education lessons plus carry out various outreach activities to various community groups and churches.

presention on how to increase waste control through recycling and awareness creation

In order to instill and reinforce the spirit of team effort. The two teams from Nairobi and Watamu were able to participate in a team building exercise that saw them go on a blue safari that involved snorkeling at the Watamu coral gardens, lunch at the pristine Sudi Island and participate in beach games thereafter.


It is my belief that there is no blueprint for a perfect course of action, since it is our job to identify it. The idea that there is such a blueprint reduces the whole business to a kind of a celestial game show with dire consequences for wrong guesses, but sadly it seems to be widely believed. However, this demonstrates our path for the New Year filled with uncertainty but promising with hope as written in Jeremiah 29:11 and Mathew 6:23-33. Certainly, I am convinced, the team will able to achieve even more than the previous year and continue ensuring nature is conserved while people’s lives are transformed.

“The Raising Voice of an Empowered Community”

“Character gets you out of bed; commitment moves you to action, faith, hope and discipline enable you to follow through to completion.” This statement best describes how community forest associations have sprung into advocacy action after a series of trainings with A Rocha Kenya and working as well as walking (literally and figuratively) with the organization thereafter.

Having completed their trainings by mid-June, the three CFAs- Gede, Jilore and Sokoke, which cover Arabuko Sokoke Forest were challenged to raise their voices for the forest and speak against the illegal activities taking part in the forest by engaging in various advocacy initiatives geared towards relieving the immense pressure the forest is facing especially from illegal loggers.

Fueled by the conviction of conserving their forest for their future generations, the Gede CFA was the first group to kick start their advocacy activities. In the beginning it seemed an arduous task but they were motivated further by ziglar’s saying, “If we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t arrive. They organized series of meetings which culminated with the selection of an advocacy committee to spearhead the various initiatives, comprised of six members.

Mida assistant chief addressing the community members during the Mida advocacy campaign

The first campaign took them to the hotspot of illegal logging and charcoal burning that being Mijomboni. The campaign was hosted by the area chief together with the CFA chairman. There was a presentation on illegal logging, hunting wildlife for bush meat and elephant poaching which elicited angry reactions from the community members who wanted action taken against the perpetrators for the vices they had done and the lead agencies charged with the role of managing the forest- Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service play their roles effectively. The campaign culminated with feedback and reactions from the community preceded by remarks from several other stakeholders followed with chatting a way forward. The event ended having being attended by over 100 people.

On the eastern side of the forest another voice is emerging in the name of reclaiming and restoring an encroached forest. Jilore CFA has embarked on a journey that can be likened to going down memory lane and opening a can of worms. This is so since they are advocating for a forest that has highly been politicized for a long time and utterly has been destroyed with effects resulting from the same readily manifesting themselves and threatening the food security of the residents. There efforts have seen them make trips to Mombasa High Court and Malindi in search of the much needed but elusive justice.

A Section of CFA Members leading the International Elephant walk

On the western side another voice raising is that of Sokoke CFA, they have been part of the teams that have organized and participated in de-snaring walks in the forest but haven’t stopped there. They have engaged the county government fully both in terms of service delivery and advocacy initiative with Ganze Sub-county Forest officer gracing their advocacy implementation plan meeting which saw the selection of 9 advocacy committee members. They attempt to tackle illegal logging by conducting regular patrols with support of Community Forest Scouts and conduct awareness campaigns in areas greatly affected by the illegal logging menace. They even took immediate action upon completion of their strategy meeting after spotting a woman carrying logs of Brachylaena huillensis (a threatened species in the forest and sought after by wood carvers) in the name of collecting firewood- which is legal only if its dried small twigs are collected. Appropriate action was taken and she lost her permit to collect firewood from the forest.

The woman whose permit was taken for harvesting logs instead of firewood

The raising of these voices has not been easy, it has been marked with financial constraints, inadequate support from key stakeholders, integrity and accountability issues which mar the groups. However they have withstood the storm and heeded to the message, “It’s not what you know, or what you have, it’s what you use that makes a difference and creates the echoes of the raising voice”


“I am often seen carrying random paraphernalia like balls, multicolored balloons, a ball of string, a mangrove seed besides the dusty chalky fingers.


When I first got the call to volunteer at A Rocha Kenya in the Environmental Education Department (EE), I had no idea what was in store for me. But it turned out exactly what I have always wanted to do; teach and have fun while at it. The Environmental Education Programme at A Rocha Kenya is not just your typical chalk, board and maybe PowerPoint presentation. It is dynamic and has a twist of games and fun environmental activities. In most cases singing about the environment.

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing children and teenagers learn and interact enthusiastically with the natural environment. The children see a tree with new eyes, not just a tall structure that is brown and green and that can be used for charcoal, but also as a home to lots of God’s creatures. Or the role of a tiny earthworm in enriching the soil. Sometimes it is appreciating the sheer creativity of God when he created the birds, which are able to fly thousands of kilometer to breed, eat and always remember their routes to and from.


Practical conservation is also a key part of EE. The children always have an adventure walking through the forest as they learn about the different kinds of plants but also assist in removing snares in the forest.  Learning about scarcity of resources also makes these children more conscious of the amount of water they use, ways of water recycling and even rain water harvesting.

I have; braved long off road bumpy rides to make children aware of the environment and the need for its conservation, camped in staff rooms when the schools were too far from home and used a few giriama words to make the lessons user friendly. Regardless of all this the job is quite rewarding. My colleagues and i strive and press on, to raise a generation that is more environmentally conscious and works to protect God’s creation.

I cannot wait for my next class!!”


Marxine Waite

Environmental Education Intern



Care of Creation Training.

Towards the end of May A Rocha Kenya conducted a training on Care of Creation in five villages in Dakatcha. Since moisture (water) plays a pivotal role in the wellbeing of the rest of the creation, the film  Water Running Dry was shown.
Looking at the  dire consequences of desertification as projected on the film, one villager  said,” I did not know that you actually should cry before felling a tree”. Deforestation is a real threat to fresh water sources. Some scientists anticipate international crises on fresh water due to waning global forest cover and general degradation of the environment.


A group watching the film Running Dry.

A Rocha Kenya has taken the conservation message to Christian  communities, sharing the biblical basis of creation care with pastors. Pastors who attended the week-long training confessed that they have not incorporated conservation in their preaching. The event was a great insight for them as they agreed to spread the creation care message to their congregations.


This church was among the venues during the training.

In the discussions the villagers acknowledged that Farming God`s Way (an on-going project) which upholds agroforestry as a principle is one of the solutions to the degradation of the woodlands. Deforestation (charcoal burning) coupled with shifting (slash and burn) cultivation is a major threat to the forest ecosystem. As a result the area receives rains at quite irregular times. Last year we were inspecting the Farming God`s Way plots (which had a luxuriant crop) and we saw a withered crop on the plots farmed the ordinary way. Early planting and mulching was the recipe for the success of the Farming God`s Way plots. The communities have started to establish tree nurseries and among the trees to be raised is the acacia Faidherbia albida. Seeds were issued during the training. The beneficiaries were excited to be issued with  seeds of such a useful tree. It is ideal for agroforestry as it shields plants from excessive sunlight during the dry season since it sheds its leaves during the wet season. The leaves readily decompose due to the presence of moisture and enhances soil fertility. In fact, it is claimed to fix ten times more the amount of Nitrogen fixed by legumes. Livestock such as goats and cows feed on it and it is also home to insects including pollinators.


A group gathering tree nursery materials.

Young People on a Global Stage.

Young People on a Global Stage (YPGS) is a project that brings together schools in the UK, Germany, Spain, Kenya and The Gambia to research on global sustainable issues; biodiversity, including trees, waste management, climate change, food and water, in and around the cities where the schools are found. They then try to come up with initiatives to address these issues and then propose their ideas to decision makers.
A Rocha Kenya began the project towards the end of last year with Lenana School and the students embraced the initiative with huge enthusiasm. On 8th November last year, the Environment Club organised a clean-up event in Ng`ando Estate which borders their school. Other conservation enthusiasts participated in the exercise.


Some of the members of the Environment Club(Lenana School) doing a presentation on Trees and Climate Change during an International Forest Day event.

Early this year Karen Secondary School joined Lenana School and from the 27th to 30th of April this year, we did an official launch of Young People on a Global Stage project with the Year 9 students at Braeburn International School.
We introduced the five issues and allowed the students to get into groups and formulate research questions and/or hypotheses. They then researched on the topics and presented their findings on the last day of the launch.

presention on how to increase waste control through recycling and awareness creation

A group of students doing a presentation on recycling of waste during the YPGS project launch at Braeburn International School.

The event was cross-curricular involving Geography, History, English, Science, Arts, and Music among other subjects. There were all sorts of presentations including Power Point, photography, artwork, animations, poetry, and songs among other exhibitions.

Dust bin made of recycled material

A dust bin made of recycled material.

Some of the groups will carry on with the project and we anticipate being with them for some more time.
It is indeed a great thing to see young people become more enthusiastic in global environmental issues in bid to make the planet more habitable.

Environmental Education in Primary Schools.

Last year A Rocha Kenya was privileged to have an intern, Lydia Kayaa, who conducted environmental education lessons in 16 primary schools in Bamba and Dakatcha areas. Pupils were shown a film, Running Dry, which focuses on the threats of deforestation and desertification to rivers. The pupils were also engaged in practical conservation sessions including the establishment of tree nurseries. After the lessons each of the schools established a tree nursery to be monitored by the Wildlife clubs under the guidance of their patrons.
Towards the end of February, this year, A Rocha Kenya staff visited the schools to see how the tree nurseries were fairing. The major challenges that the schools are facing is water scarcity and our team had to offer refresher courses to revive the nurseries. A total of 243 pupils, who are members of Wildlife and Environment clubs, attended the sessions. This year`s theme is Trees, Forest and Climate Change and the objective was to empower the pupils to distinguish the terms nursery, seed, seedling and to familiarize them with the steps followed in establishing and managing tree nurseries.
This week, we hosted teachers from these schools for two days at our Field Study Centre in Watamu and trained them on capacity building and how they can successfully incorporate Environmental Education in the curriculum. The activity involved creating and writing of environmental games, songs and poems. The teachers also had fun as we took them out for snorkeling in front of our beach and they enjoyed exploring the marine ecosystem.


Allan Majalia from A Rocha Kenya with pupils

in one of the schools.



Allan Majalia (in a blue T-shirt) with pupils

 establishing a tree nursery.



Pupils during a practical session.



Teachers during the training at Mwamba

Field Study Centre.


An environmental game.