RCE Greater Nairobi - 2018

Adopt a River Initiative
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Adopt a River Initiative
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Nairobi
Contributing organization(s) : 
Regional Centre of Expertise-Greater Nairobi(RCE-GN)
National Environment Management Authority(NEMA)
World Student Community for Sustainable Development(WSCSD)
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Dr. Esther Kitur
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE-Greater Nairobi Coordinator
Joseph Masinde
Organizational Affiliation: 
National Environment Management Authority
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Additional resources: 
Education for Sustainable Development Policy 2017
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Global Action programme (GAP)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
African Union’s Agenda 2063
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Africa and Middle East
Address of focal point institution for project: 
South C, Popo road off Mombasa road
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Nairobi County has a total area of 696.1 Km2 and has an estimated population of 4,253,330 as at 2017.Being the host of the country’s capital city, it has the highest concentration of financial institutions including Commercial banks, microfinance institutions and Forex Bureaus making the city a major commercial hub on the African continent. It is also home to three gazetted forests and has three main rivers. It is the home of major industries accounting for about 80 per cent of the total industries in the country. This offers a wide range of employment opportunities for the people within and outside the county.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Nairobi faces significant SDG challenges including unemployment, increased poverty rates with people living below poverty line estimated to be 22 per cent of the total population, rapid population growth fuelled by rural-urban migration, food insecurity and malnutrition, inadequate Transport system leading to ineffective public transport, high energy cost, poor quality of life due to high carbon emissions and slowed economic activity, inadequate Solid waste management infrastructure leading to poor sanitation, disease outbreak, devaluation of property, contamination of water system and air pollution, inadequate Housing and social amenities leading to mushrooming of informal settlement, crime upsurge, declining quality of life.
Engaging students both at secondary and tertiary level is crucial to achieving ESD policies at all level from local to intentional level. Therefore, this project seeks to engage students in practical implementation of the theoretical knowledge acquired in the classrooms as a means for conservation. Various topics i.e. Biology, Geography, Chemistry and Agriculture syllabuses provide the theoretical basis on which this project is anchored. In this project, aquatic macro invertebrates are used to monitor river health as they are known to be a cheap and reliable means of monitoring water and environmental conditions. The project provides a practical application of the dichotomous key to identify the key species of aquatic macro invertebrates used in monitoring of river health. It introduces the use of the miniSASS, a simplified version of the South African Scoring System to enhance learner’s knowledge and skills in monitoring river health and determining relevant interventions based on empirical results. The information gathered in this pilot project will provide a basis in guiding policy and community activities championing the restoration and conservation of rivers ecosystems.
Behavior change/ Culture shift to recycling/reusing/refusing
The overall objective of the project is to restore the Nairobi river ecosystem by determining the environmental conditions of Nairobi River using aquatic macro invertebrates through introduction of the use of miniSASS and the dichotomous key in identification of key wetland health indicator species
The expected outcomes are to foster environmental education by empowering youth in the universities colleges and Secondary schools in methods of river/ecosystem restoration and build the capacity of the youth in secondary schools and universities in using miniSASS and the dichotomous key in identification of key wetland health indicator species.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The first step in the project is identification and determination of study area(s). These are points along the Nairobi River. A description of the river conditions should be given and pictures of the area and observable environmental phenomenon taken. Once identification is done, a series of activities follow which include obtaining the relevant sampling apparatus, including (pond net, white trays, dissecting kit, sampling bottles, hand lenses, dichotomous key), sampling methods (under miniSASS e.g. rocks, floating part of a plant and water column), preservation of the identified organisms, taking pictures of organisms – invertebrates, recording of the presence of identified species and calculating the average sensitive score. Participants then Share their experiences (amongst schools) and proceed to write proposals on restoration and conservation of their adopted section in the river.
Size of academic audience: 
Twenty five institutions inclusive of tertiary and secondary schools
Given the sensitivity scores recorded in most of the project sites, the general ecological category or condition of the river portrayed to be in very poor condition and critically modified. This means that the river ecosystem has been highly altered and biodiversity highly diminished. Most parts of the river beds and wetlands are encroached by informal settlements which have caused high pollution of both solid and liquid waste and foul smell in the river. Raw sewer and effluent discharge was reported in most sites, high concentration of plastic waste and in few instances street families were reported to have been residing in the wetlands.
Lessons learned: 
The project is now at implementation of restoration projects such as clean-ups, tree planting to be done by participating institutions and other stakeholders once they present their funding proposals. The throw away culture has hugely infiltrated our society such that resources such as rivers and wetlands have gradually lost their value. This can clearly be picked up from the dumping and settlement in wetlands. Intense awareness creation on the immeasurable value and significance of these resources to the health of the environment and people needs to be done to result in a culture shift and behavior change.
Key messages: 
The project illustrates how key curricula components can be used to solve actual sustainability challenges and how the public, especially youth can be mobilized to manage rivers and other wetlands around them. The project is expected to result in enhanced enforcement of environmental regulations to ensure healthy wetlands.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
To be duplicated in other RCE community groups
No funding received so far, however, partnership and resource mobilization efforts are ongoing


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon photo1.jpg (22.61 KB) Students at Chiromo campus identifying the macro invertebrates J.Masinde
Image icon photo2.jpg (201.35 KB) Kenya High School students collecting Samples from Nairobi River J.Masinde
Image icon photo3.jpg (103.06 KB) Nairobi School students at the sampling point in Lavington, James Gichuru road J.Masinde
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level