Tuesday, May 04, 2021
Nation Media Group
What you need to know:
- Raya Famau Ahmed’s career in activism has cost her lifetime opportunities, but she does not regret.
- She quit her job at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi to go back to Lamu and engage in social and environmental activism.
- Through their anti-coal campaigns and demonstrations in Lamu, the National Environmental Tribunal cancelled the license for the intended Lamu Coal Power Plant.
“Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. My decision to become an activist after years of practicing as a nutritionist, has caused me more pain than gain, but I will soldier on.”
These are the words of Raya Famau Ahmed, an anti-coal crusader and environmental activist.
The 41-year-old says her career in activism has cost her lifetime opportunities, but she does not regret. She adds that activism is in her blood and has pushed her to forge in life with ease.
Ms Famau says one of the drivers of her activism is the fact that she comes from the Swahili of Bajuni origin where women have not been given a voice to air their grievances or been empowered.
The first born in a family of seven, says she quit her community nutrition job at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi to go back to Lamu and engage in social and environmental activism.
According to Ms Famau, the cultural and religious aspects of the Bajuni in Lamu had, in the past, made male chauvinism real, something that gave her sleepless nights.
After quitting her job in 2005, she joined other women in the region to form Sauti ya Wanawake (Voice of women), an organisation that advocates for women and girls’ rights and empowerment.
In 2009, Sauti ya Wanake joined Save Lamu, an umbrella organisation whose objective is to ensure locals participate in decision-making, achievement of sustainable and responsible development, preservation of the environment, and social and cultural integrity of the Lamu community.
Ms Famau and other Save Lamu members have been at the forefront in campaigning both to raise awareness on environmental and health risks of the various components of projects including the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor at Kililana and the Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant at Kwasasi, all in Lamu West.
Through their activism, Ms Famau says the government was able to compensate all the people whose land was affected by the Lapsset project.
“We also petitioned the government to look into the welfare of fishermen affected by the Lapsset and other issues we felt were violated. I am happy that through our efforts, the Malindi High Court in May 2018, awarded a compensation package of Sh1.76 billion to the fishermen displaced by the Lamu Port,” says Ms Famau.
She notes that through their anti-coal campaigns and demonstrations in Lamu, the National Environmental Tribunal (Net) cancelled the license for the intended Lamu Coal Power Plant.
Net faulted the project investor for omitting engineering plans and details of the plant from public participation, in addition to finding that it was not consistent with the Climate Change Act.
“Having the coal plant cancelled was a major win for us. It made us receive love and hate in in equal measure,” says the mother of two teenage boys.
Ms Famau, however, says her activism journey has not been smooth sailing.
Threatening phone calls
On many occasions, she has received threatening phone calls from State officials and non-governmental organisations.
In 2015 for instance, she says more than ten armed police officers raided her house at Bombay area within Lamu Island at night and ransacked it.
“They claimed to have had information that illegal firearms were hidden in my house. After the search, nothing was found but I knew it was nothing but harassment and intimidation to make me leave activism. I am unfazed,” said Ms Famau.
Her life’s lowest point is that despite having the qualifications needed for jobs frequently advertised by the national and county governments, her efforts to apply for the vacancies have been unsuccessful.
“I have submitted over 100 applications to the county and national governments but none is willing to employ or even shortlist me simply because I am an activist. I have suffered job discrimination even from private entities. Employers feel I will be a disturbance to them once they absorb me because of my firm stand as an activist,” says Ms Famau.
Born in Mombasa in 1980, the first born in a family of seven attended Mlaleo Primary School, between 1984 and 1992.
She then came to Lamu in 1993 and joined Lamu Girls High School before she was transferred to Faza where she completed her secondary education in 1996.
In 1998, Ms Famau was enrolled at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Nairobi where undertook a certificate course in Community Nutrition and completed in 2000.
She worked at the Lamu King Fahad and Malindi District hospitals between 2000 and 2003 as a nutritionist before being transferred to Nairobi’s KNH nutrition department. She left the job to join activism in 2005.
Ms Famau later joined the Technical University of Mombasa where she did a Diploma in Community Development and Counselling, completing in 2013.
She then enrolled for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Development Studies at the same university and completed in November, 2016.
Her activism career has earned her a number of recognitions.
During the 2019 Mashujaa Day that took place in Mombasa, President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded her a certificate of recognition as ‘Shujaa’ (heroine) of Lamu County due to her active role in community and environmental activism.
In 2019, she earned a trophy from Coast Women Magazine for being a female activist of the year (Coast Heroine Award).
The same year, Ms Famau won the Pwani Human Rights Award from the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) organisation for her effortless campaigns in defence of human rights and environmental preservation.
“I am proud. As an activist, I have attended various conferences at the Bomas of Kenya, South Africa, Germany, Côte de Voire, Accra, Ghana and Harare in Zimbabwe,” says Ms Famau.
She advises women and girls, especially in Lamu, not to fear but speak up and help others as well.
“You shouldn’t suffer because of fear. Anyone who fears suffering is already suffering from what he or she fears,” she concludes.
Voi River in Taita Taveta County, situated in Voi Sub County flows when it rains with floods at most a day while it would flow year round.
Of recent the floods are a month long affair during the rains season.
Our environment is calling out for help and it’s our duty to reach out and restore the River. Tsavo Heritage invites you all to join the Tsavo Climate Change through the greening Voi Platform. Targets intended to work with:-
>Grow 1 million+ trees annually,
>mobilize to nurture the trees,
>develop and maintain a year round tree nursery starting with 1 and progressively over 3-4 years going to a nursery per Ward.
What is available so far:-
>seeds to grow 2M trees,
>land to develop the nurseries,
>the will to make the project work.
What is needed from the participants:
#will to see Voi green.
What is urgently needed are Champions in each and every Ward of the County.
It’s our obligation to make Voi green…let us restore our Environment.
To start with this initiative, we’ve been offered two sites for nursery development by partners in Voi…one, at Gimba and the other second one around Birikani areas.
Together as One…Mazingira Yetu Uhai Wetu!!!
Jacob Mwaluda Kipongoso
Environmental Sustainability as a topic in international studies is most often considered in the context of oriented Sustainable development.
Defination and application, environmental sustainability is defined a responsible interaction with the environment to avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources and allow for long term environmental quality.
Environmental Sustainability is concerned with whether environmental resources will be protected and maintained for future generations, because it’s responsibly interacting with the Planet to maintain natural resources and avoid jeopardizing the ability for future generations to come.
Sustainability in short; looks to protect our environment, human and ecological health while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.
Earth Day is less than 50 days away!
On April 22nd, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day aims to become the largest environmental movement across Africa and the World.
We want you out there to join this movement to make this event successful. Please our new checklist and our volunteer handbook to get started.
Let us commit ourselves to our Planet’s future…hope to see you participating in the movement.
Earth Day Volunteer Member.
Despite big headlines and big money devoted to massive tree-planting projects that pledge to stave off desertification, the most effective method may be nurturing native seeds, rootstocks, and trees.
Near the start of the rainy season in June 1983, Tony Rinaudo hauled a load of trees in his truck to be planted in remote villages in the Maradi region of Niger. Driving onto sandy soil, Rinaudo stopped to let air out of his tires to get better traction, and was hit by a sense of futility. For years, the Australian missionary had been working to improve the lives of people in one of the poorest countries in Africa by…
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For Man to have a better place today and for the future generations, it is for me and you to protect the environment and nature. Environmental sustainability is responsibly interacting with the Planet to maintain natural resources, sustainability here looks to protect our environment, human and ecological health.
Together, let’s stand for a better Today, Tomorrow and Generations to come!!!
Conservation of environment simply indicates the sustainable use as well as management of natural resources which include wildlife, water, air, and earth deposits. In current circumstances, there is increased human activities due to explosion of human population and degradation of habitats which caused many species that were formerly common to decline to near extinction. There are […]
The climate movement has in the last couple years taken a new turn world over. Now more than ever before, young people have mobilized around the climate strikes, a tactic that has spread across the world like wild fire. And yes, this is a much needed ingredient when it comes to resistance & the cause […]
There’s light at the end of the funnel…locals should grab this opportunity!
The County Government is engaging the authorities to ensure the mining zone that was set aside in Wananchi settlement scheme in Mwatate is opened up to allow for more space for artisanal and small scale mining.
Speaking in Chawia CBO grounds during the Mining prayer caravan organised by Voice of Kings church led by pastor Nathan Maina, the Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui said the County will improve infrastructure in mining areas to make them conducive for working.
The Deputy Governor also called for the formation of mining cooperatives and CBOs.
“Right now we are standing on Chawia CBO grounds, in Kasighau we have Dapata mining CBO. I challenge miners across the County to join hands and form more CBOs and cooperatives because it’s through such unity that we can have tremendous achievements,” she said.
The CECM Mining urged miners to observe moral and ethical standards in their daily endeavors and…
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