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Snowcapped in development: Responsible farming on the slopes of Mount Kenya

Copyrights: Gabriel Tito Tabona (Mount Kilimanjaro)

Snowcapped in development: Responsible farming on the slopes of Mount Kenya

How could the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games be linked to development in equatorial countries such as Kenya and Tanzania?
Gabriel Tito Tabona has some ideas.

South Korea’s Pyeongchang is hosting this year’s edition of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in February and March respectively, an important sporting event in International Olympic Committee’s calendar. Despite the geopolitical dynamics witnessed between the United States and North Korea over a nuclear programme, the power of sports has once again come to the rescue with the IOC approving North Korea’s participation subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions.

Winter sports are not only a sporting event but also an important element of mankind that can be leveraged in achieving socioeconomic goals within and beyond countries which experience winter. How can winter sports have a positive impact in countries blessed with snowcapped mountains such as Kenya and Tanzania?

Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro have for a long time been tourist attractions with everybody aspiring to conquer the highest points. However, with the current environmental predicament, glaciers on Mount Kenya are fast disappearing and scientists have predicted that in the next three decades there will be no snow if current human activities that are a threat to the ecosystem are anything to go by.

With Mount Kenya being an important water tower, thanks to its contribution to the country’s longest river – the Tana – and other water bodies, the IOC can use the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to promote responsible farming and agro business among communities living on the slopes of the mountain. By, for example, organising football activities such as a juggling challenge, heading challenge and dribbling activities all linked to specific farming-related themes, participants can be equipped with the knowledge and skills that can greatly change their attitudes on farming practices they use. It could be made possible through cooperation with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K), agricultural based bodies and the Kenyan government.

Such an arrangement can act as a perfect legacy programme that the IOC can use to educate the world on the importance of holding winter sports and their benefits to countries that don’t experience winter but host unique snowcapped geographical features. Winter sports have a ripple effect packaged in different social, political, economic, environmental and technological factors: countries that do not witness winter get to experience its impact in one way or another.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 14:00