“Clean air, My Right, My responsibility”
“Hewa safi, Haki yangu, Jukumu langu” 2019 slogan of the Ministry of Environment and Natural resources Kenya.
The history of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry can be traced back to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) which was first established in 1963 when Kenya got independence. It has been evolving through the years with different naming, the current one being Ministry of Environment and Forestry that was created vide Executive Order No. 1 of 2018 on organization of the Government of Kenya.
The main mandate of the Ministry is to undertake National Environment Policy and Management, Forestry Development Policy and Management, Development of Re-afforestation and Agro-forestry, Restoration of Strategic Water Towers, Protection and Conservation of Natural Environment.
Diplomasia team engaged the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Keriako Tobiko in a in depth interview of the current state of the Environment in the country and here is what he had to say;
Measures the country has taken to mitigate air pollution and improve air quality;
The Ministry formulated the Environmental Management and Coordination (Air Quality) Regulations 2014 whose objective is to ensure a clean and healthy ambient air for all. The Ministry is working on this through NEMA. Kenya, through Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has operated a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Station on Mt. Kenya since December 1999.
Main policies regarding environment and its conservation with regards to renewable energy and green technology;
Regarding environmental conservation, renewable energy and green technology, the Ministry has put in place the following policies;
a) The National Environment Policy whose goal is to better the quality of life for the present and the future generations through sustainable management and use of the environment and natural resources
b) National Climate Change Framework Policy to enhance adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change, and promote low carbon development for the sustainable development of Kenya.
c) Forest protection and management policy is a framework for improved forest governance, resource allocation, partnerships and sector collaboration.
d) Environment Sustainable Development Policy for better quality of life for present and future generations.
- Provide a framework for an integrated approach to planning and sustainable management of Kenya’s environment and natural resources (b) Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) 2016-2030 – a blueprint for enhancing low-carbon, resource efficient, equitable and inclusive socio-economic transformation (c) Draft National Sustainable Waste Management Policy whose goal is to protect public health and the environment, as well as to create wealth and prosperity in the country.
Current environment situation in Kenya and how environmental matters are dealt with;
Environmental issues traverse global, regional and national levels. The Country faces global and regional environmental issues including air pollution, climate change, and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, hazardous waste disposal, and wildlife trafficking and invasive species. At the national level, the key environmental issues are, poor waste management, pollution, destruction of forests, encroachment of riparian reserves and other wetland ecosystems, impacts of climate change, poor land use planning and inadequate knowledge on environment among others.
The Ministry has put in place policies, Acts and legislations to address various issues affecting the environment. Apart from EMCA, 1999 which is a framework law, there are about eight regulations which have been prepared to address various environmental issues in different sectors of the economy.
Challenges facing the Ministry in implementation of its policies;
- . (b) Population pressure and competition for natural resources. (c) Inadequacy of modern meteorological, climatological and hydrological infrastructure and well-trained personnel. (d) High costs of technology and limited human capacity. (e) Accelerated climate change impacts and human conflicts over resources. (f) Inadequate resources, late release of funds, austerity measures. (g) Over-exploitation of natural resources and emission of wastes and pollutants. (h) Extensive destruction of forests. (i) Global warming and climate change. (j) Poor land use has led to land degradation. (k)Invasive plant and tree species.
Issues and matters being addressed by the Ministry;
(i) Stakeholder capacity building and public awareness through mass media on environmental conservation, climate change mitigation and green circular economy. (ii) Development of forests, reforestation and agro-forestry (iii) Restoration of Strategic Water Towers (iv) Increase the forest cover to 10% by 2022 (v) Protection and conservation of the natural environment (v) Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing. (vi) Control of urban river pollution control (vii) Development of various policies and strategies such as waste
- Management policy, e-waste strategy and regulations.
Among the major tasks that the Ministry is currently involved in, include (a) removal of water hyacinth from Lake Victoria environment (b) restoration of Lake Naivasha Basin (c) carrying out EEAI will promote land use guidelines and restructuring of the Kenya Forest Service.
Major and sustainable policies on environmental conservation and how are they being implemented;
These include the National Environment Policy, 2013, Climate Change Policy and Education for Sustainable Development Policy. (No. 4).
The Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.
Forest Policy 2014: This Forest Policy provides a framework for improved forest governance, resource allocation,
The Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) 2016-2030 with the assistance of DANIDA supported Green Growth and Employment Program (GGEP) The program seeks to engage with Kenya Private sector Alliance KEPSA and KMA with the aim of enabling the private sector to take lead in the shift towards green economy.
Climate Change Act 2016 – Implemented through five year rolling National Climate Change Action Plan.
Projects and programmes in the Ministry;
The Ministry has the following projects that relate to environment conservation and sustenance. (a)Phasing Out Ozone Depleting Substance Project Operational(b) Lake Victoria Environment Management Project (Phase III) (c) Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development in Kenya (d) Support to Kenya for the Revision of the NBSAPS (e) Nairobi River Rehabilitation and Restoration Programme (f) Urban Rivers Rehabilitation Project (g) Sound Chemicals Management Mainstreaming and Upops Reduction in Kenya.
Other projects are: (h) Imarisha Lake Naivasha Catchment Management in Kenya (i) National Solid Waste Management (j) Suswa Lake Magadi-Migori Environment Restoration Project (k) Plastic Waste Management (l) Natural Forestry Programme (m) Forest Irrigation Climate (n) Forest Plantation (o) Farm And Dryland Forest Development (p) Forest Rangers Camps Rehabilitation (q) Forest Roads (r) Capacity Development Projects for Sustainable Forest (s) Forest Fire Protection Management Project (t) Development of TIVA Forest (u) Development of Forest Research Technology (v) Construction of Tree Seed Processing Unit (x) Mitigation & Management of Soil Loss under KWTA
Effects of climate change and how the ministry is dealing with it;
- Kenya is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to the low adaptive capacity and dependence on agriculture and other climate sensitive socio-economic sectors. Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climate events (droughts and floods) have resulted of loss of life, livestock and destruction of infrastructure. Significant resources are often allocated to respond to climate disasters. The enactment of the climate Change Act 2016 provides for a regulatory framework for enhanced response to climate change.
The National Climate Change Action Plan include Mainstreaming of climate actions into development plans, decision making and implementation; building resilience for enhanced adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change among others; a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan GESIP complementing the National Climate Change Action Plan ; and Kenya’s NDC (National Determined Contributions) under the Paris agreement has adoption and mitigation actions.
Comments on the extinction of wildlife and other natural resources due to negative environmental changes;
The earth’s atmosphere is getting much hotter due to global warming which is causing climate change. The change in climate has led to altered rainfall patterns, variability and extremes of weather.
Advise about future of environmental conservation in Kenya and how it affects socio-economic development:
Several environmental challenges have been experienced in Kenya mainly due to over-exploitation of natural resources and emission of wastes and pollutants into the environment leading to degradation.