Paul Okwaro is an Associate Programme Officer with the Environmental Education and Training Unit responsible for environmental awareness-raising, advocacy and capacity building.
He has extensive experience in the communication and public information field spanning over 28 years. Prior to joining UNEP in 1983, he worked for the civil service and print media in Kenya. Over his working period in UNEP, he has served in various environmental awareness-raising responsibilities in the Division of Communications and Public Information, including focal responsibilities in information dissemination, marketing and publicity of UNEP print products, environmental awareness raising among young people, as well as administrative functions at various levels.
Between 2004 and 2007, he was reassigned to UN Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO) in the post-conflict Former Yugoslavia to establish the first environmental office in UN peace-keeping operations, setting up environmental operational guidelines for UN troops (Blue Helmets). As a result, DPKO has since established environmental functions in all its peace-keeping operations. He also worked in the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) on environmental emergencies, specifically in developing information and communication tools towards raising public awareness in the natural disaster management cycle (early warning, preparedness, response and mitigation). Within PCDMB, he was key in the coordination of the just concluded UNEP project on the Application and Use of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) in Nature Conservation and Natural Disaster Management in four pilot countries in Africa (Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania).
The project findings bring to the fore the important role of indigenous knowledge in natural disaster management and its close interlinkage with biodiversity conservation, particularly at community level. Specifically, the findings outline clear examples of how IK is used in early warning and preparedness for natural disasters such as drought and floods.