It’s been a long haul since we had the election’s last year. As the new CS’s take office and begin work, a lot is expected from their departments. For the environment sector, changes have occurred in the ministry that was involved in all matters environment.
In the previous presidential term (2012 – 2017), the ministry concerned with environmental issues was known as Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. This was then divided to Ministry of Environment and Natural resources and Ministry of Water and Irrigation. As you read this (in 2018), another change has happened. Wildlife, a sector under Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is now under Tourism as Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. The former is now Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The current Cabinet Secretaries are Hon. Najib Balala and Hon. Keriako Tobiko respectively.
In today’s guest post, we look at what we expect from the today’s government, what needs to be done and how we can be able to work together, especially with the split, all in an effort to conserve our natural heritage, our treasure. With development being at the core of the country’s agenda, the environment should not be shelved (even though we now have two seperate ministries dealingth the same aspect that is nature).
Efficient management of natural resources and the environment is important for poverty eradication and sustainable development. The less privileged in our society are commonly exposed to high risks of unsanitary living conditions from air pollution to water pollution and toxic waste materials. They often live in marginal lands which influence their preconditioned human development. Protecting the environment through mainstreaming environment into development plans and implementing environmental legislation and other environmental measures are important for human development, poverty reduction and long-term economic development.
Weak governance has a strong effect on environmental actions and outcomes and is associated with social ills such as corruption, social exclusion and lack of trust in authorities. It is a sad reality, especially, in Kenya that there is a growing gap between the environmental commitments made by those in power and the actual implementations to improve environmental outcomes.
To our newly elected leaders kindly note that good governance is needed to manage large flows of environmental and climate change aspects. As a conservationist I expect the government in the next five (5) years to achieve sustainable environmental development through these concepts;
Sustainable environmental management will be achieved only when power is executed properly. This involves taking responsibility for what you do as leaders. For instance, we are still experiencing issues with the SGR phase 2 project that is purposed to pass through the Nairobi National Park. This railway will have negative impacts on the wildlife within the park. This should be accounted for, the effects of such a project on an ecological island, especially, actions taken to mitigate those effects should be of top considered.
Adherence to a set of moral /ethical principles will help minimize corruption and management of our natural resources. We all benefit from the ecosystem services we get from the environment, Taking this for granted just because one has the power to do as they will, will only benefit a selected few within a short time – frame. Greed leads to corruption and this aids in damages within the environment. This has been seen in poaching and deforestation where certain leaders have been stakeholders in.
This means having information that is available and accessible. This can include the right to examine public records without having to pay bribes, obtain data from the environmental monitoring reports by environmental agencies. For example, the budget allocated for investments in projects like environmental waste management will ensure more transparency and less corruption. Without transparency there will be economic volatility, more oppressiveness and internal conflicts thus leading to the familiar ‘resource curse’. This will form political patronage with few benefits for the less privileged in our society.
For each environmental project or any project that will affect the environment in one way or another, the community needs to be fully involved. This is by ensuring the score-cards/ report cards from the local people is easily accessible. This will provide these communities with sufficient information about what is happening in their backyards. The relayed information should be easy to understand and very open for the community not to be misled. Public participation is a right for everyone. In the projected Amu Power Coal power plant, it is noted that the local people were not allowed to access information. The community is said to have been frequently harassed by the Kenyan police who interrupted Save Lamu meetings’ during the creation of awareness about the impact of the project. We should duly note that the world is divesting from fossil fuels such as coal. We, therefore, do not understand why as a country we are still going through with such a ‘dirty’ project.
Good environmental management affects both you and me and our future generations. Therefore, I request that you put in place practices that sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services. The two are directly linked to poverty alleviation. For instance, forests, woodlands and grasslands support local livelihoods through provisioning of building materials, fuel, medicine, protein and fibre. When we achieve sustainable environmental management for the next five years, we are able to even adhere to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Written by Risper Asembo