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4k Club in schools using carbon beds to fighting Climate change

The revival of 4K clubs has brought in a new generation of young students in schools who are set to increase the country’s food production as they devise ways such as carbon beds to fight climate change in their counties

The 4K Club, which stands for kuungana, kufanya, kusaidia Kenya became non-operational in the 90s, which affected food security and was revived in 2021 as part of the government’s efforts to increase agricultural production.

Madam Eveline Mutei, a teacher at General Mulinge Primary School in Kaani, Machakos County, and Chairperson of the 4K club says she has 52 pupils who are volunteer members of the 4K club and they have learned the essence of agriculture and making carbon beds that help in retaining water in plants for a long period, thus becoming easily adaptable in dry areas.

Carbon beds help increase organic matter in the soil, which increases its ability to retain water in the soil.

Mutei said the use of carbon beds has helped the school have enough food and vegetables for the pupils, especially during the drought period.

Eveline Mutie is a teacher and 4K Club Chair at General Mulinge Primary in Kaani, Machakos County. Photo by Anne Kangero

She added that most students were interested in the 4K Club and its benefits, such as learning different ways of growing healthy and nutritious food, so they introduced their parents to the use of carbon beds in increasing healthy food production at home.

The 4K Club Chairperson said that to prepare the carbon beds, one has to dig a 4 meter flat surface, fill it with dry matter such as dried grass, then put some soil on top; after that, green grass is added to the soil; and finally, at the very top, place some soil that is mixed with manure to cover it; then some water is poured into it and its ready for planting any crop.

Mutei pointed out that during the drought period, the school had enough food as a result of the carbon beds, and some students who came from vulnerable families came to school to get some food to eat.

“Despite the harsh climate experienced last year, we did not lack food. We had plenty of vegetables that we cooked for the learners, which they had planted themselves,” said the 4K Club Chair.

She said that the 4K Club has also encouraged the older students who have cleared primary school to continue farming, have started earning from it and are also teaching others about the benefits of carbon beds in managing the effects of climate change in Machakos.

Mutei said they were introduced to the carbon beds by the Haki Nawiri organization, which focuses on food, climate, and the youth.

Leonida Odongo, the founder of Haki Nawiri Africa, speaking to KNA at General Mulinge Primary School, where they had come to help prepare the carbon beds, said that they chose the school because climate change and food justice are one of their pillars.

Leonida said the idea of carbon beds is part of agroecology, which is a food production process where you produce food while also taking care of the environment, as they also focus on sustainable production and consumption.

She highlighted that when there is climate change, the ones who are most affected are children and they should focus on removing children from the hunger map in the future.

The Haki Nawiri founder added that before they chose to work with the school, they did an analysis and research and found out the main response from the pupils was hunger and Ukambani being a dry zone, they came up with the carbon bed, which has been a success so far.

“Our work in this school is informed by research because we did an analysis where we asked the children what was ailing them and they said hunger and that’s when we decided to work with the school to promote human rights,” said Leonida.

She noted that there is a major connection between education and food and in some areas, children are unable to go to school due to a lack of food at home and in school and they end up becoming criminals or committing immoral vices for food.

Leonida affirmed that when children learn different ways of producing food on the farms, it encourages intergenerational learning since there are kids as young as four years learning the trade and so in a few years, the children will solve the climate change effects in Machakos.

“Young people are consuming all types of food because they are the future and since Africa is a youthful population, if we do not take care of our young ones, no one will,” added Leonida.

The Nawiri founder affirmed that they plan to extend the idea of carbon beds and agroecology to other schools in the country and, in the future, get students from different schools to have cross-learning amongst themselves.

Peter Nzioka, who is a board member at General Mulinge Primary, said that the intent of encouraging the carbon beds for the 4K club pupils and the community is to empower them through agriculture.

Nzioka, who is also a farmer, added that it’s important to educate the youth early enough about the benefits of farming so that wherever they go, they will spread the message of fighting climate change through carbon beds.

“We thought the best way of amplifying the idea in the community was to empower the schoolchildren, who in turn will do the same at home and in the community at large,” added the board member.

He said most of the parents have come to school to see for themselves the efforts of the 4K Club in making carbon beds and planting vegetables while using the least amount of water, which has encouraged them to start their own carbon beds at home.

Nzioka said some of the parents and community members also come to the school to help with the carbon beds, in a bid to support the food in school for their children.

“The core use of carbon beds is that they use the least amount of water to maintain the crops, where one can water just once a week and the crop thrives, especially in towns where there is a shortage of water,” said Nzioka.

One of the 4K Club members at General Mulinge, Miriam Mwende, who is in grade 4, said that she loves agriculture and she always looks forward to break time so that she can rush to their farm and look after their crops such as maize, beans, and kales.

Miriam says they eat their lunch in school and most of the time their food contains the crops that they have planted at the carbon beds, such as the Skuma Wiki. In the future, she looks forward to being a full-time farmer who will be selling her produce all over the country.

By Anne Kangero

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