organisation: CATEK is the acronym for Caretakers of the Environment Kenya, which is part of the larger organisation Caretakers of the Environment International (CEI), a global network of secondary school teachers and students active in environmental education.
mission: CATEK develops projects throughout Kenya in order to promote ecological practices in schools and their surrounding communities and to create awareness among school children, teachers and communities on the needs of their immediate environment.
practising sustainability: two projects that have been developed, among others, are:
discussing sustainability: every year, CEI organises an international conference on environmental education for secondary schools. In 2003, the 17th Caretakers of the Environment International Youth Conference was organised by CATEK around the theme ‘Sustainable Education and Development in the Rural Environment (SEDRE)’.
- the Waste Project started in Oyugis town with an awareness workshop: the categorising of rubbish into organic and toxic classes was a new idea and the possibility of recycling waste where there is no recycling factory was a total surprise. People from the community became more and more involved and many villagers gathered together on the occasion of ‘clean-up 2000’ to take part in the initiative. The project continues today. Visits after the ‘clean-up 2000’ have revealed that compounds are clean, waste is categorised, composting (organic recycling) is being done and the town receives many requests to provide training on how to recycle.
- the Biodiversity Project is addressed to young people, who have to identify and map the flora and fauna in a 3 x 10-meter square area. Afterwards they have to research the use of each of the plants identified. Thanks to these activities, they have the opportunity to know the natural cycles and changes of local plant species.
The key concept of the edition was ‘Prevention is better than cure’: “there is only one Earth. Even so we are not looking after it as we should. We exploit faster than we replenish. We use rather than reuse. The greatest challenge facing mankind, today and in future, is how to look after the Earth's resources and create an ecologically sustainable society [...]”, CATEK says. The fact that youth from many countries gathered together to discuss such an important topic gives hope for the future.