What's the BIG IDEA?
Over the next 9 months I will be working to develop and design a proposal to address deforestation on the island of Mfangano, Kenya. I will be partnering with The Organic Health Response (OHR), an established, committed organization, seeking to activate social solidarity, information technology, and environmental sustainability on Mfangano Island in Western Kenya to turn the tide against the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria. In order to fund the field work of this project, I am looking to raise $2500 for travel and board expenses.
Why the BIG DEAL?
In 1954, two dozen Nile Perch were placed in the water of Lake Victoria. By the 1980"²s the "Nile Perch Boom" began, annihilating the native fish species of the lake and the habitat in which they live. Within this time, the convergence of thousands of migrant fishermen, a cash explosion within impoverished and dis-empowered communities, vulnerable women and customary trade practices such as jaboya or "fish-for-sex," increasing food insecurity, ecological destruction, and a near total lack of health infrastructure has culminated in a perfect storm of HIV. The Suba people in Nyanza Province (the location of Mfangano) are suffering from the one of the most critical concentrations of HIV/AIDS in the world.
Who's the partner ORGANIZATION?
The Organic Health Response is unique in its holistic approach to countering the impact of HIV/AIDS as it recognizes that proper health interventions must address the biological, social, and ecological relationships.OHR, a partnership of Kenyan and American partners, embraces a philosophy that champions social justice and environmentalism not merely as political ideals but as the key components of a comprehensive strategy to improve and sustain human health. Last year, OHR received a $100,000 Google Grant to pursue its mission and has received $10,000 through UC Berkeley's "Big Ideas" Competition under the category of Global Poverty Alleviation. My friends in OHR will be moving back to Mfangano for one year in order to progress and implement the organization's planned projects and programs. This committed, passionate has allowed me to jump on board and use my capstone as a way to help develop a number of programs within the organization.
What will I DO?
My intention is to create a proposal that would address incentives and alternatives to deforestation due to and potentially more. This proposal will be used by OHR to be implemented or as a system or used as a guide. Deforestation is due to clear cutting for agriculture, building timber and cooking fuel. This has resulted in erosion, landslides, soil degradation and respiratory problems due to burning charcoal from timber. By curbing deforestation through alternatives to charcoal cooking stoves, the health of women would be greatly benefited and the ecology of the island could better sustain the community living off of its resources.
I am incredibly excited and honored to be able to work with this passionate, committed group of people and I intend to be involved with this organization beyond the capstone lifespan. I see the field of Landscape Architecture as having a more visible role on the global stage as the world becomes smaller and our natural resources diminish. As landscape architects, we know enough to know we can help. Our skill sets are applicable across bio-regions, cultures and economies and stand to benefit the lives of those who depend so heavily on the natural systems that surround them.
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