THE month of June in Rwanda always draws a lot of focus on our environment and what we need to do to keep it as life friendly as possible. The World Environment Day tell at the beginning of this month (June, 5) and its celebrations are often marked by increased environmental awareness in society.
A few days after the World Environment Day, we then have a week of festivities that culminate into the country’s biggest tourism bonanza, the Gorilla Naming Ceremony better known as Kwiti Izina that is always held in the middle of the month in Kinigi.
The festivities of the week leading to the Gorilla Naming ceremony are all focused on growing local awareness about environmental issues around the areas close to the parks that these wonderful apes call home. We can, therefore, conclude that June is indeed the green month in this country as it is the time that the environment becomes the centre of our focus.
It is also fair to say that Rwanda as a country has taken huge strides to protect the environment. Despite the population challenges, trees are planted in most of the open in the country to stem soil erosion among other things. When it comes to Kigali, you have to give credit to the city council authorities for making the city one of the greenest you can find.
If it is not for the harsh hot season, your eyes are treated to a constant flow of green lawns and palm trees that have become a trademark of the city. The effective ban on the use of polythene bags has gone a long way in ensuring that the country is not only green but that its flood water drainages are efficient.
All these green efforts need to be sustained and cultivated as a culture and not just a one off or a duty of local authorities. Everyone has to play a role if we are to improve on our environment and also to consolidate what has been achieved so far.
A good place to invest is in the schools. Environmental education should be part and parcel of what children are taught. We need to inculcate an environment loving attitude in our little ones as opposed to trying the same later in life.
This can be done by ensuring that every school has an environment club where we can have a section of the school population that is passionate about the environment. These clubs can then be supplied with all the information they need and thus act as the critical mass that spearheads the efforts to protect the environment.
Charity begins at home and in this case, schools can be used in the same context by ensuring that much as the city and government authorities are doing a good job, students should be doing the same in their schools.
It is always painful to have to look at a school compound and wonder whether grass is illegal. You have seen schools where all the open space is a source of dust.
Considering how much firewood some schools consume, it is only fair that students are made to regularly plant trees without necessarily waiting for the national tree planting day. This way, the young minds are made to understand that their role in mitigating environmental damage.
School inspectors should not just look out for laboratories and toilet facilities but also try and assess the environment in each school. At the end of the day we can even award schools that are greenest.