Urban green spaces play a critical role for the well-being of city dwellers. They serve the recreational, ecological, mental, and health needs of citizens. These needs are starkly highlighted during the current Coronavirus pandemic Daima (swahili for forever) is a coalition of civic actors who have joined together to advocate for the protection of green spaces across urban centers in Kenya. The consortium is made up of different organizations led by Wangari Maathai Foundation, Natural Justice, Katiba Institute, and Wildlife Direct. The focus of the Daima Campaign is to develop a civic wide appreciation for the value of green spaces in urban centers for wider society. This green and accessible land needs to be preserved for future generations. Therefore, a key goal for this campaign is to nurture champions of green spaces as advocates to protect Kenya’s vital assets.
In 2018, the World Health Organization declared air quality as the ‘new smoking’ due to the respiratory problems and danger of cardiovascular disease it poses to a wider population. Green spaces play a key role in improving air quality in our cities. Despite this, green spaces face constant threats ranging from pollution, infrastructural development, encroachment, degradation, to inadequate legislative framework. It is therefore vital that we restore and rehabilitate existing green spaces and create more, that are accessible to all.
Most of our cities in Kenya are fast becoming concrete jungles with green spaces disappearing and shrinking at alarming rates. Without green space, it will be more difficult to stay physically and mentally healthy. Especially in a pandemic, like the ongoing COVID19, we need green spaces more than ever. The pollution of our cities causes poor air quality and soaring rates of respiratory diseases, the exact underlying health conditions that increase the severity of COVID19. Green spaces are a good indicator of overall ecological health of the ecosystem; they are a key weapon in the fight against the climate crisis.