World Environment Day 2024: Catholic Nuns in Kenya Foster “environmental stewardship” in Youth Empowerment Initiative

Members of the Sisters’ Led Youth Empowerment Initiative (SLYI), a program of the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya during the World Environment Day celebrated on Friday, June 14 at St. Charles Lwanga Vocational Training, Kibera. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of the Sisters’ Led Youth Empowerment Initiative (SLYI), a program of the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK), have belatedly marked World Environment Day 2024 by engaging young people in the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi (ADN) in activities that foster “environmental stewardship”.

The activities that included garbage collection and general cleaning at St. Charles Lwanga Vocational Training, Kibera on Friday, June 14 was done in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Creative Economy and Catholic Technical and Vocational institutions, community promoters, and volunteers drawn from ADN.

Credit: ACI Africa

Established in 1972 by the United Nations during the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5 since 1973, when it was first marked under the theme, "Only One Earth".

In an interview with ACI Africa, SLYI Program Manager said that AOSK seeks to empower young people by engaging them in environmental conservation activities in a bid to address contemporary challenges that they grapple with.


Sr. Mercy Mwayi SLYI Program Manager addressing participants during the World Environment Day celebrated on Friday, June 14 at St. Charles Lwanga Vocational Training, Kibera. Credit: ACI Africa

“At AOSK, we acknowledge that the youth play a crucial role in environmental conservation. By taking care of our environment today, we not only benefit the current generation but also future generations,” Sr. Mercy Mwayi said.

Credit: ACI Africa

Reflecting on their June 14 activities, Sr. Mwayi told ACI Africa, “Today, we are at St. Charles Lwanga, joined by 12 technical institutions from Nairobi County, celebrating this activity as a team. In our celebration today, the first aspect we are focusing on is raising awareness.”

The Kenyan-born member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph said that the event and activities were celebrated in line with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, “Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience”, which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provided.

More in Africa

Credit: ACI Africa

“Whatever we implement today must align with the theme; that is why we are focusing on raising awareness around the theme, followed by tree planting, and concluding with community service activities such as rubbish collection, grass clearing, and sweeping,” Sr. Mwayi said.

She added that in carrying out activities realized in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), “we intend to plant 126 trees, distributing them among the 12 institutions responsible for nurturing and sustaining them.”

Credit: ACI Africa

The seedlings selected for planting are drought-resistant, Sr. Mwayi told ACI Africa, and cited the challenge of watering the trees as a reason for this choice. She reiterated, “Being drought resilient will enable the tree to grow even without being watered.”


“After planting the trees, the environment clubs of each of these 12 institutions will be responsible for maintaining them to ensure proper nurturing and growth,” said the SLYI Program Manager.

Credit: ACI Africa

Representing KEFRI at the event, Samson Mogire told ACI Africa that his institution provided advice the Catholic Sisters indigenous tree species for the World Environment Day 2024 initiative, saying these trees play an important role in conservation efforts.

Mr. Mogire encouraged Kenyans to plant bamboo trees, explaining that bamboo trees bind the soil, purify water, and are crucial for preventing soil erosion and landslides.

Mr. Samson Mogire of KEFRI addressing youth drawn from 12 institutions within Nairobi Archdiocese. Credit: ACI Africa

(Story continues below)

He highlighted KEFRI’s other areas of focus, saying, “We are engaged in the value chain and operate laboratories where we analyse soil types. Based on this data, we provide advice on suitable fertilizers and tree species for planting.”

“We also have facilities for testing tree diseases and pests to help farmers mitigate losses. Additionally, we conduct workshops on bamboo cultivation to provide young people with opportunities to earn a livelihood,” the KEFRI official told ACI Africa.

He went on to thank AOSK members for the partnership and called upon the Church leadership not to relent in “championing for environmental conservation to help in maintaining what God created.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“What we are doing is mitigation of climate change and God created trees and plants to make our environment better. We have messed up with the environment and that is why we are experiencing a lot of calamities including droughts and floods,” Mr. Mogire said.

Also speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the June 14 event, the teacher in charge of the environment club at St. Charles Lwanga Vocational Training, Kibera, Allan Otieno, lauded Catholic Sisters in Kenya for choosing the school to host the marking of the World Environment Day.

Credit: ACI Africa

“We are deeply honoured to host this event and extend our heartfelt gratitude to AOSK and our partners for initiating this effort in garbage collection and raising awareness about the environment,” Mr. Otieno said.

This event, he added, “has challenged me together with my team to intensify the campaign on environmental conservation with a focus on tree planting and garbage collection.”

He called upon young people to “be part and parcel of environmental conservation through the creation of awareness and tree planting.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.