Politics is a part of the environment and we cannot avoid it. The two are inextricably linked. Most young people, however, do not want to be in the know of any political matter. They have lost faith in the democracy in which they live in. It is important for us to understand more about politics and the decision makers so that we can be able to make better decisions. Sidelining the environment away from our political arena only makes situations worse and we realise the damage when its already too late and the blame game begins. Taking an interest in politics means you can be able to shape your future.
In my first guest post (happy person here), Risper, shares her insights on why we should be concerned about our political status in the country, more so during this political season.
Political power competes for access to land and control of natural resources. The most powerful implement conservation policies that control environmental management and protected areas. An example is the passage of the Standard Guage Railway (SGR) within Tsavo East National Park, Nairobi National Park, Hell’s Gate National Park and also within the Ngong Forest Reserve in Kenya was influenced by those in power despite protests by various conservation groups and other concerned parties.
Those who suffer the consequences of such major environmental decisions are the locals (the common mwananchi) and future generations. Communities living around the parks will have to be relocated to other places far from their ancestral lands to create room for the passage of the SGR. Wildlife will most definitely be affected as we have to think about relocating animal species and instigating ways in which animals will face fewer challenges and prevent a rise in human-wildlife conflict cases.
Conservation remains an ‘assemblage of contradictory relationship between the powerful and those not in power’. This tends to define nature and the right to use various resources in very different culturally dependent ways. However, the modern conservation practice is on the heels of the political and economic globalisation that is influenced by industrial revolution (the notion of ‘development’).
I am reminded of a Kenyan debate (politics) on Mau Forest Complex in Rift Valley (a key water tower) concerning the forests deforestation, wrong information was used. The debate claimed that the Ogieks ( an Indigenous group who have occupied the forest since ancestral periods without causing any harm to the forest) were set to be relocated because they were ‘seen’ as the main cause of forest cover loss. A Member of Parliament claimed that forests do not influence the amount of rainfall received but instead said that rainfall comes from above (from the sky). He further added that he did not see the need of the government relocating the Ogiek community to another place. Whether this was ignorance or a case of impunity and greed should be further judged by the current state of the forest cover.
This is clear that politics has a major influence conservation in one way or another because the person’s statements made some locals to believe that forests do not greatly influence rainfall in any way.
I fear that the young people are not ready to oppose those politicians involved in passing dangerous policies that could affect the state of the environment and the nation in the end. Young people are afraid of been shamed, imprisoned, or even killed because of not following the set ‘status-quo’.
The big question is; if the young people are afraid of fighting for the protection of our natural resources, how will the next generation be able to see and relish the wonderful resources we have today? How will they meet their ecological benefits the environment offers when we deplete all the natural resources today?
To our leaders, please listen to the young voices. Their participation in conservation is key. Do not threaten their lives whenever they express their views and opinions on environmental destruction, because we realise that politics has dominated public policy on conservation issues.
In relation to introducing concepts on sustainable development, which interlinks social and ecological systems; it’s a sad reality that the need for development without considering future environmental implications is overtaking conservation efforts thus the loss of habitats and wild life.
I am worried about the future as a youth who is wild for wildlife because it is unfortunate that I cannot freely express or protest against policies that are unfavourable to conservation. Please fellow youths, it is high time that we join our hands together and face this political madness for the sake of our future generations!!
By Risper Asembo.
Risper is a young person who is wild about wildlife. She is passionate about conserving natural resources with her mandate being to empower her fellow youth. This is her driving force. She would like the youth to fight for the protection of natural resources for the benefit of humanity. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
We do not want to be an ignorant society, you can find out more on how politics is affecting one of Kenya’s major water towers otherwise referred to as the politics of Mau Forest Complex here, here, here, here, and here.
Remember, you can choose to make a difference and be the change you want to see in the world. Collectively we can have a much larger impact.
We have the energy, passion, ambition, drive, and innovation as young people and this should be recognised.
“Strength in the nation lies in its youths.”