How Is It Going


The SRM Rhinos are spreading the sustainability thought in Latin-America, USA, Germany, Italy and New Zealand.


Lu went all the way to New Zealand to see how green is the "Green Island". He made a workshop on "Material and Waste Management" in the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. And to walk the talk he tried to keep his carbon footprint from travelling in New Zeeland as low as possible: after covering 800 km by bus and 700 km by train he did the same distance (1500 km!) by bike! Now an idea about a tour "Sustainability Workshops on Two Wheels" is spinning around in his head…

Wolfgang is fully academic and hardworking: writing a Master thesis about different animal and plant species in the Alps and working as a ranger in the national park Berchtesgaden (Bavaria, Germany) is filling his days. Moreover, he sees that his research can lead to even more pressing questions and an idea of continuing the research in the PhD-studies is spinning around in his head…

Eveli is doing all about carbon: she is developing a carbon footprint policy for Bioversity International. Not only heavy industry but also knowledge based institutions are creating CO2 emissions and thereby unwillingly increasing the speed of climate change. If one can manage what one can measure then first measuring and then managing an organisation's CO2 emissions is the future ahead. The question how to encourage also all other organisations to manage their CO2 emissions is spinning around in her head…

Therese has spent a while in Latin-America investigating the sustainability activities. Inspiration stemming from there as well as from participating in a Sustainability Summer School in Santa Fee, USA, has led to the idea of formulating the experience into a package of cross-cultural workshops. The question how and where to get started is spinning around in her head…

But THE S-TEAM has not forgotten everyone else! We are currently brainstorming how and where to share our knowledge about sustainability again. If you know some group or organisation who would like to learn more about sustainability issues, please write to moc.liamelgoog|spohskrowytilibaniatsus#moc.liamelgoog|spohskrowytilibaniatsus

We are here to help! Let's learn together how to be nice to the planet so that the planet could be nice to us!

After Kenya and future plans

We are happy to have such an experience in conducting sustainability workshops.
That is what we would happily go on doing!



"He is Moses from Kenya- 4 years old, orphan, HIV positive… The best present for him for Christmas is when he does not have to go to bed hungry. Sad part is that he is not the only one, his friends in Watamu orphanage share his faith."
During our workshops in two Kenyan universities we had an opportunity to visit Watamu community project- orphanage, school and clinic. For many children in that community is that place the only option to have a bed to sleep, food to eat, go to school and get medical aid. Not always are the financing sources able to guarantee enough food, teachers and medicine.
With the Kenya-Hut the Sustainability Workshops team will make a little Christmas present to the Watamu project. From the 30 of November and the 17 of December can the students and staff of Technical University Munich and Freising citizens enjoy Kenyan food that we learned to prepare during our stay in Africa. All the profit will go to the Watamu project.


Sustainability Workshops in Kenya - how did it go?

5 October

Visiting UNEP


Kenya is not only the coutry with the highest number of installed solar panels per person but in Nairobi there is also the headquarters of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). As our group of sustainability-pilgrims had already come all the way from Germany to Kenya we also wanted to talk to the world level professionals in sustainability issues.
We were pleased by the warm welcome in UNEP. Yet even more positively surprised were we after hearing that they are doing the very same work worldwide as we had been doing in Kenya – sustainability courses. On the one hand it gave us an opportunity to discuss the experiences we had gathered in two Kenyan universities. On the other hand it was like patting on the back – we had been on the right track, we had been serving the right purpose!

Our fact finding mission

One thing is reading about scientific findings but far better is to complement it with a valuable field experience. Therefore, after visiting UNEP we packed our things and headed off for a road trip around Mount Kenya to see how Kenyan highlands cope with everyday sustainability or lack of it.


Kenyan biodiversity cannot be preserved by the tourists nor for the tourists. Respective education about conserving wildlife for local population cannot be overestimated. Just a little out of Nairobi is the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya (A.F.E.W Kenya Ltd) also known as the Giraffe Centre – a non profit organisation with the aim of supporting environmental education programmes, wildlife conservation efforts and promoting sustainable environmental conservation. Who would have thought that giraffes are actually so big, that they can kill a man with one leg kick if they feel endangered and in this centre one can safely feed them by holding a snack between one's lips!

„Flowers“ for 1000 years

Nevertheless, not everything is sustainability focused and functioning perfectly. A great challege in Kenya seems to be waste management. Quite many times our first emotional cry was why won't they just clean up all that trash? „Plastic flowers“ on the sides of the roads, sometimes sebras walking among the plastic bag ribbons seaching for food. Different types of plastic bags need fifferent time to decompose, but even in direct sunlight it takes years, in a proper landfill hunderds or thousands of years. So taking another free plastic bag on the market means that we will see it on the roadside for years.

Safari on 2 wheels

Safari is the clishé of Africa. A 4-wheel-drive vehicle with an open roof speeding through the national park, stopping every once in a while to take pictures of Kenyan wildlife. We decided to skip the traditional safari and go for a more eco-friendly option – a bike-safari. Cycling through the Hells Gate National Park and seeing wildlife without a protective car around you makes even sebras look big and a bit scary. Something we considered weird for a national park was a geothermal power plant and some trucks driving back and forth transporting sand. We found it questionable if these activities fall under the national park definition.

Taking the lead

Lonely Planet led us nicely from one touristic naturally beauftiful sight to the next one. In our perception supporting the local government by paying an entrance fee for seeing these places is a normal thing to do. Nevertheless, in our perception the local authorities are also expected to keep the attractions clean and provide road signs for finding the place. As expected we had somewhat different experiences. At the Thomson Falls after hiking all the way down to the river valley we encountered trash lying around. Insted of complaining we took a plastic bag and collected as much rubbish as we could fit into it. Later we took it along to the entrance and explained that we were expecting to find a clean place down there. That might have been a moment when cultures collided – the Kenyans would have preferred us to leave the trash down there and we would have preferred never to have found the trash at all. We agreed not to agree.
After spending 1,5 hours driving around trying to find the 14 Falls we were dusty, tired and apparently not in the best mood. Trying to charge a typical tourist fee at the entrance was not something we were ready to accept. Our main argument was that we had gone through so much trouble finding the place because there were no road signs to guide us to the place. After long discussions we had a chance to see a beautiful place where river forms 14 waterfalls next to each other.
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11 September

Noone mentions the catastrophe in New York from eight years ago. The Kenyan newspaper The Standard has the Kenyan president on the first page, it continues with stories about hijacking a plane in Mexico, Mau forest ownership, infants' HIV infections… We are preparing for a visit to the Tsavo East National Park.



Our week of workshops in JKUAT has come to an end and the final day is planned to be spent on a field excursion to the Tsavo East National Park. Its 12.300 square kilometers are home for 76 mammal and 524 bird species. Landscape does not change rapidly but it includes huge areas of grass savanna, shrub savanna, mountains and small spots of forest here and there. The latter is also the only green place in the park. The rest of it offers a spectacular view of grey and red – dry bushes and grass on red soil. Spectacular it may look but for the habitat in the park it means a question of survival – every source of water in the park has dried. Even the lakes that never used to dry are only spots of darker soil now. There used to be 30.000 elephants in the park before, now there are 11.000. Our tour guide who works as a scientist in the park said that even as there is no threat from the illegal hunting any more, the park could not provide food and water to more than that number of elephants. It has not been raining in the park for two years. If the draught continues even 11.000 elephants will be too many, many of them are dying even now.
On our ride through the park we saw elephants, buffalos, sebras, gaselles, giraffes, a lion, wild boars and ostriches. Looking down in the valley where most of them are sharing the same field for grazing is a beautiful sight. Just like it is marketed in the TV or on a postcard.

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JKUAT Campus – challenging but focused

“Nairobi and Mombasa greenness is an illusion. What is here around the campus is the reality. That is what most of Kenya is like – dry. It is a challenge now and it will be more difficult in the future to sustain water supply. But you are here to study and to find solutions how can life in Kenya be continued,” said the principal addressing the first year students. They are the ones who have the priority to start their studies while the second and third year students are still waiting for the classes to start. The lack of water does not allow the campus to welcome all the people it needs to.
The principal, professor Hamadi Iddi Boga is an active scientist, he gives lectures in Nairobi JKUAT main campus and runs JKUAT Taita-Taveta campus in Voi. He says his main task in Voi is strategical planning. He says there is a need from outside knowledge to build up Kenya sustainably. Research done only by the Kenyan universities will not provide answers fast enough to the current and future challenges. He is focused. The same applies to the staff. Many of them are from Nairobi campus, where time is measured much faster than in the Kenyan costal areas' “pole-pole” (in Kiswahili “slowly”) style. We hope their ambitious plans and focused actions will be successful.

6 September

A phone call: ”Hi! How are you all? We miss you!” Now we have left coastal Kilifi and driven to inland a town called Voi in between Mombasa and Nairobi. Some participants call us to ask what are we doing and how is it going. Pure warmth that the African people reflect is just as much surprising for us as motivating. The pictures are taken of the lecturers and students group we worked with in Kilifi.

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1-year-old university


A university in an institution that brings together the brightest minds. A university is a place where history, traditions and science come together. In Europe at least. That leaves out the opportunity to observe the fascinating start and build up of such an institution in case of old and famous universities. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) was established on the 21st of October in 2008. Recently it was presented the ISO 9001:2000 certificate – Quality Management System. Today they are still building housing facilities for the students. JKUAT is also hoping to get enough water to start the courses. Yes, because of lack of water many first year students have been sent back home for unknown time. Citizens of Voi are every day hoping for the El Nino – "warm phase of the oscillation - the period when ocean water in that region is warmer than average", in other words, heavy rainfalls that often cause also floods but bring an end to a drought.

Some more about water


The SRM group had a wonderful opportunity to visit local Mwamsha water catchment area that is supposed to feed also the university campus. Two slopes covered mostly by trees are sucking in the water during the rainy seasons and releasing it to the river in the valley in between of them. The river has today almost dried out – just a small spring is flowing there now, embodying cow footprints… and manure. Not much time ago some people have moved to the top of the mountain range of one slope – an incident that has not occurred before but due to lack of fertile land they hope to be better off in there. Slowly has this “high” community grown into 25 000 families, on the slope the trees have been cut down and replaced by terrace system corn fields.
Water from this spring is flowing to the dam, built in early 1900, and from there directed through two pipes to the villages in the nearby valley. On the pipeline there are some parts where bushes and trees are much greener than the rest of the dried out nature all around. The reasons are permanent water leakages. When one pipe finally reaches water catchment dam in the middle of the community it has too little power to fill it. The last time the “pool” was full was shortly after it was built, in the 1970's. The other pipe leads to JKUAT and apparently cannot sustain enough pressure to actually deliver the water.

1 September

How big is a global footprint of an average Kenyan? European size 40? 42? 37? No, it is 1,1 global hectares. With Kenyan lifestyle the world would not be struggling with overuse of resources. If all the people in the world would have an equal impact on the Earth, taking into account that the biological carrying capacity would not be exceeded, then we could not “step” harder than 2,2 global hectares. The SRM group from Germany currently acting in Kenya has tremendously overshot that limit with its thousands of kilometres of flight to Africa. But should we drive back in a tuk-tuk- a three wheel open Kenyan taxi? Before we make our final decision we are doing all our best to implement many good sustainability seeds in Kenyan universities. Isn't a university campus a community with exactly the right size and mentality to try out sustainable solutions?

Turning the challenges into advantages


Did you know that Kenya has the highest number of installed solar panels per person? They are mostly small scale but provide just about enough electricity to power a few light bulbs or a few hours of radio or TV. Did you know that with a help of plastic bottles and UV rays one can produce safe drinking water in 6-12 hours? The bottles with dirty water have to left in direct sunlight for the time mentioned and the sun will do the rest of the work. In the renewable energy day we came to the conclusion that Kenya has all sorts of renewable energies but in a too small scale. But here is also a lot of potential if the incentives are good enough. How about building a biogas plant running on digested waste? The PWANI University is claiming back a piece of land from the Kilifi city. The land has been used as a landfill for a while. That plot would need to be cleaned in longer perspective. How about joining a project of cleaning up the landfill and producing its own energy? Furthermore, the university has a generators based back up system in case of energy blackouts so even the generators are already here.

Weekend activities

Once one arrives in Kenya for a business purpose one must admit that there is no way he can leave the country without taking a look around outside the business meeting place. Every old and dirty looking sign on the side of the road can be a guide to an incredibly exciting place. And people are happy to show many things.
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During the past weekend we were invited to visit an orphanage which is being run by one of the workshop participant. Voluntarily. Besides being a home for 20 children and a school for about 100 the complex also has a small clinic serving surrounding villages to treat most common health problems. Many services are for free, for others the patients have to pay. Nevertheless, noone is sent back in case of lack of money. If one does not have money, he gets the treatment for free. All based on trust.


A visit to Bio-Ken snake farm helped us to understand that although there are indeed many snakes in the local forests, including the most poisonous one, the Black Mamba, there is no need to be too scared of snakes. They will avoid meeting people at any cost. Nevertheless, if one is lucky enough to meet a snake one should give it a few moments to escape and most probably nothing happens. Just as a remark, the Black Mamba is a beautiful friendly looking light beige snake with a big smile.


Sylvia has been running a community farm near Malindi for 20 years. There are 16 families living in this farm besides her. They produce different crops for their own use and animal fodder and have a milking cattle of 20 to 40 cows for milk production and financial income. Our impression was that she has included all kinds of birds and animals in her farm that would survive. The hardest was to convince the community to have also a few horses which in the eyes of a typical Kenya only mean a waste of fodder. The SRM group was happy to convince the local community that tourists like we are happy to go for a little tour on horseback and provide some income. We gained a nice experience of seeing the surrounding villages and the real Kenyan life.

25 August

If someone is planning to join a two week course then a classical expectation is a powerpoint presentation and a one-man-show. The keywords for our workshops are that they are workshops-thinking, discussing and synthesizing new ideas together. While having a chance to do it with university professors and lecturers it would be almost criminal not to use their competence from different fields!


On Friday we moved from movie-culture-game sphere to economics. Discussing triple bottom line and cradle to cradle principles gave ideas for a sustainable business plan design. If there really would be a SRM Investment Group with 100 million Kenyan Shillings as we simulated then there soon would be also a joint Kenyan company for road building, safari tours and beer production. Not only did the companies that were competing for the SRM Investment Group prize incorporate TBL principle but just before announcing the winner they decided that the most sustainable would be to join the companies for better benefits for all.

Census out of the blue

Did you ever think how complicated it is to organize a people count, a census? Did you ever think how difficult is to do it when one really has to reach every person to actually count them when the infrastructure is poor? On Monday we had a long day with Ranger Peter, an invented character to guide people through the theory and practice of establishing a national park. During our lunch break we were told that Tuesday is a pubic holiday because of a census. It sounded as if it came like a surprise because during our workshops planning session a week ago it was never mentioned. Respect to the government who can make it happen in such a short notice! On the other hand, the locals tend to say that Kenyan government with about 80 ministers is also the most expensive in the world. The moral of the story is that even if you plan something in advance, plan it again and are making it happen never say you could follow the plan until you are finished. Kenya- full of surprises!

20 August

Arriving in Kenya

Richard Dowden said in his book Africa: “Africa is a night flight away”. A beautiful sunrise greeted us once we arrived above the continent of Africa. We were greeted at the airport by Moses, a brother of our main contact from our planned accommodation place. Trip from airport in Mombasa to Malindi just up the cost of Kenya lasted about one and a half hour.
Our first experience was that Kenya has a lot of huge speed pumps proportional to slow down a truck marked with a rock next to the road. So apparently they are hardly noticeable for people from countries where traffic signs are clear, big and colourful. Africa itself was warm, colourful and DIFFERENT. Our exploring begun. Just as expected, one has to start figuring out Africa from the very basic things – left side traffic, where are shops and gas station, should we brush teeth with tap water and so on. But it is hard to have any problems in Africa because of Hakuna matata! (in Kiswahili no problems!) Here are kind and helpful people who ask one to turn to them in case one has any problem at all.
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On Monday the 16th of August at 9am we arrived at PWANI University College as our workshops were bound to begin. Apparently we still have a lesson to learn – time in Africa has slightly different meaning than in Germany. We spent a day having an introductive tour in the campus and planning our upcoming workshop sessions. So, instead of two weeks activities starting on Monday we ended up agreeing upon two weeks and one day of workshops starting on Wednesday. Everyone was happy with the result!

First two days

The little room kept on filling with people until there was no more room to add any chairs. Exciting! Expectations of the participants were practical kind – waste and water treatment, Mau forest problems etc. and of course understanding what the sustainable management of resources actually mean. It surely gave us work for the weekend to finalise or redesign some of the prepared presentations and discussions. Two days we have been encountering the same challenge – all interesting discussions tend to take more time than planned and days want to stretch behind our 5pm ending deadline. Nevertheless, noone seems to be in a hurry to leave but we do need to sum up eight hours of workshops to gather new energy for the next day.


31 July - Sustainability Workshops project won DM prize

Sustainability Workshops project participated in DM "Sei ein Futurist!" projects funding competition where people could vote for different projects to select the best ones. The winners are supported by the DM with 1000€.
The teams in charge of the winning projects were introducing their plans in Freising DM store on the 31 July. DM customers and local media had a chance to hear more about the planned undertakings. Thereby we could bring our message about sustainability closer to the Freisingers!


Project Preparation

Preparations are on their way - ways of challenging mind are being designed, plans for after-project activities are being made, and most of all, the excitement of delivering and receiving ideas about sustainability is growing!

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