A consortium of environmental organizations issued a clarion call to citizens to work towards peace and environmental justice after the concluded general election.
The appeal was made by various environmentalists and human rights activists during the Kisumu Peace and Environment conference which advocated for youth in the region to take a center stage in championing peace.
The participants drawn from the Kisumu Environmental Champions, Fridays for Future, Earth Uprising and the Environment Department of Kisumu County Government were urged to become peace ambassadors and improve patriotism in a bid to safeguard the environment.
Under the theme ‘Impact of Elections voice on Peace and Environment in Kisumu,’ the peace ambassadors urged Kenyans to co-exist harmoniously as they eagerly wait for the Supreme Court verdict on the Presidential petition and continue to remain united after the apex court ruling.
Evans Gichana, Director in charge of Climate Change at the County Government of Kisumu asked leaders to be shapers in terms of leadership to give positive directions that do not lead to pollution of the environment but conserve it.
“You cannot have peace without food and proper leadership; therefore, we need to choose leaders who are able to protect and be good stewards of the environment,” stated Gichana.
Boniface Achach, a renowned Peace and Human Rights defender, advised the young people to be ignitors of change and refuse to be used by anti-peace crusaders to cause mayhem in the country.
“Destruction of lives and property pollutes our environment in every electoral cycle,” Achach, the Sitarusha Mawe Peace Campaign founder and coordinator emphasized.
Ramina Pollette, a Climate Change Activist, Environmentalist and Human rights Defender, during the event held at the Dunga Hill Camp, advocated for peace and environmental justice since climate change has a major aspect of the peaceful election process before, during and after the polls.
“By holding this forum, the young people are able to understand the peace concept since a majority of them are the ones who are affected when they demonstrate and cause violence,” Ramina said, adding that Fridays for Future deals with Climate justice and intersectionality in relation to feminism.
Baby Pendo’s father, Joseph Abanja, who also graced the occasion, narrated to the keen listeners the harrowing ordeals his family underwent when they lost their daughter during the aftermath of the 2017 post-election violence.
‘I wish no one would undergo what we went through as a family. It was and is still a traumatizing moment. I urge us all to take up peace maintenance as an individual responsibility,’ Abanja, a victim of post-election violence elaborated.
A position affirmed by another victim Lydia whose daughter Shantelle survived a bullet wound due to the 2017 election debacle.
The participants were urged to desist from the destruction of the ecosystem through violence but embrace peace under the slogan ‘I will maintain peace; I will be the voice.’
By Becky Galyns and Rolex Omondi