Kenya rowing recognised for environmental work
Accolades have gone to the Kenya Rowing and Canoe Association (KRCA) for their environmental work. The KRCA was announced as the winner of the 2013 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sports and Environment Award for Africa.
Presented at the 10th IOC World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Sochi, Russia, Seif Patwa, secretary general of the KRCA was on hand to collect the award.
When the KRCA moved their training centre to Tudor Creek, on the coastal shore of Mombasa in 1995 the centre evolved into something more than a sports facility. It became an environmental initiative with the area around the centre being cleaned up. The training centre had been established on a piece of land where illegal dumping of all kinds of waste took place as well as other illegal uses of the area included drug trafficking.
The KRCA started a clean up to make the area suitable for the development of sport, for a training venue and a boat storage location. This clean up earned the association the 2013 IOC award.
The residents of a nearby slum were initially suspicious of the rowing club as they thought it may mean a loss of their land. "Over time the local inhabitants understood that the clean-up effort was beneficial for them as well," says FISA environmental consultant George Kazantzopoulos, "although the area has to still be monitored in order that new dumping can be avoided.
"The locals are now familiar with what is happening regarding the two sports. Indicatively, one of the Kenya canoers comes from this slum."
The KRCA regularly organises clean-up days to coincide with international environmental days like World Water Day and World Environment Day as well as Olympic Day. "They ask visitors to plant a tree thus contributing to the improvement of the natural environment," says Kazantzopoulos. "The recyclable material that has been collected and is still collected, is given at no charge to locals thus providing an extra income for the local community. The target is to turn the local community into the environmental custodians of the area."
"This was the work of many years by many people, sponsors and supporters including the Tudor Water Marina," says Patwa. "We are continuing our efforts and call upon others to join us to save the environment while promoting a healthy lifestyle and improving the chances of young people."
Another award was also connected to rowing. Europe's award winner went to the Sport and Environment Commission of the National Olympic Committee of Serbia for their work at Ada Ciganlija Lake in Belgrade. This lake was the venue of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup I and will also host the 2014 European Rowing Championships.
This is the third year of the award which goes to each of the five continents recognising each winner's outstanding initiatives in the field of environment and sustainable sport.