Ms. Unelker Maoga, a 2nd-year student studying Environmental Science in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi
Ms. Unelker Maoga, a 2nd-year student studying Environmental Science in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi has won the fourth Edition of Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund. Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund is competitive and is awarded based on merit and the contribution applicants make in their respective communities. This year (2016), the scholarship was awarded to two students, Ms. Unelker Maoga (University of Nairobi) and Ms. Elizabeth (Kenyatta University) both are also members of Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change.
Having applied the year before and not qualified, Ms. Maoga was determined that this year she would try convince the panel that if she received the funding she would not let them down. One month later after the application, Ms. Maoga received a word that she had been shortlisted and was later called to attend for an interview in May 2016 at Kenya Community Development Foundation Offices. She was then interviewed by representatives from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Green Belt Movement, Kenya Community Development Foundation, Wangari Maathai Institute for Environmental Studies and the University of Nairobi. Although Ms. Maoga says that the interview was rigorous and nerve wrecking, she felt confident that she had done her part in convincing the panelists that her project was vital to for her community and that she needed funding for her education. Despite all she had done, she was also nervous because she knew that the competition was stiff.
In addition to her studies, Ms. Maoga is involved in environmental education in primary and secondary schools in Kisii, her home County. Most of her education involves giving lectures on climate change, its mitigation and solution strategies. With many farmers in Nyanza having to struggle with irregular patterns of rainfall, Ms. Maoga believes that taking the message of climate change mitigation through the planting of trees will be key. Ms. Maoga is also involved in renewable energy projects. The project offers climate change solutions in renewable energy. Owing to the fact that a large population of families in Nyamira County are still dependant of kerosene lamps, kerosene is expensive in the long run and harmful to health and the environment. Her project, which popularizes use of solar energy, is therefore seen as one of the cheapest, clean and most accessible forms of renewable energy to save our environment. She believes that the provision of affordable and durable solar lamps to women groups and church groups, in Kisii County will help in achieving a “greener” county in years to come.