The mission of the Ministry of Environment & Mineral Resources (MEMR) is to promote, monitor, conserve, protect and sustainably manage the environmental and mineral resources for national development. MEMR is fully committed to the realization that a sustainable environment is a fundamental pre-requisite in national development, poverty eradication and improved livelihoods for all generations. In view of this MEMR is now implementing a National Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative (EEAI) to educate and raise awareness on environmental challenges to all Kenyans and to encourage the participation of all stakeholders in environmental conservation and management.
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. Some of the key challenges include:
Pollution of the environment especially related to land, water and air has led to adverse effects on animal and human health as well as the quality of the environment. As such, pollution poses a major challenge to environmental management which has been exacerbated by inadequate treatment facilities as well as irregular collection and disposal procedures.
EEAI will inform the public on environmental challenges such as air pollution
Extensive destruction of forests has been rampant in the past due to illegal logging and excisions among other threats. This has also led to the loss of forest cover and the subsequent destruction of water catchment areas. Loss of tree cover has significantly reduced the vegetation cover which act as natural sinks for carbon dioxide. Deforestation has enhanced climate change and its impacts. In addition, it has resulted in increased occurrence of ?oods, soil erosion and drought. Some of the consequences of deforestation being
experienced in the country include reduction in water and hydro-electric power supply leading increased production costs of goods and services which will ultimately slow down Kenyan economic growth.
• Global warming and climate change
The earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer due to global warming which is causing climate change. The change in climate has led to altered rainfall patterns, variability and extremes of weather. This has led to increase in frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and rise in sea levels. This has affected crop yields, increased vector borne diseases, destroyed infrastructure, contaminated fresh waters and degraded agricultural lands.
Poor land use has led to land degradation. Though caused by both natural and human activities, land degradation has led to desertification, loss of water, soil infertility, poor crop yields and loss of biodiversity. Land degradation has reduced soil productivity and opportunities for livelihoods’ potential to contribute to national development. EEAI will promote land use guidelines that will be developed by lead agencies based on sectoral policies within the framework of EMCA (1999) in order to mitigate this challenge. Land degradation in arid and semi arid lands
• Waste management
Waste comprises of solid, liquid and gaseous components. These are primarily penerated as a result of human activities. A great deal of wastes generated is illegally dumped leading to physical accumulation or its discharge to fresh water as effluents. Waste management is a great challenge to the country due to the absence of appropriate technologies and modern facilities. Improper waste disposal has also enhanced land degradation and reduced the quality of the environment. EEAI will promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling in order to safeguard the quality of the environment.
Public and Private Sector Participation
The Kenyan economy is primarily dependent on agriculture and natural resources. However, initiatives for sustainable management of environmental and natural resources do not receive high priority in budgetary allocation. There is need to create awareness on the value of the environment in order to enhance individual and corporate responsibility towards the same. Participation in environmental activities will in?uence ownership, positive change of attitude and change of behaviour. The public and private sector participation provides an opportunity for involvement, ownership and partnerships in environmental management. EEIA will help enhance this potential to encourage a culture of corporate social responsibility towards the environment in this sector. In addition, EEIA will encourage the private sector to increase its level of investments in environmental management as a way of giving back to nature for sustainable development. Unsustainable logging of trees has been a major environmental challenge in the country. EEAI will promote tree planting in schools and tertiary institutions.
EEAI Resource Mobilization
The initiative is likely to expand in scope
This is an initiative by MEMR to provide a platform to inform, educate and engage various stakeholders. The goal is to enhance voluntary initiatives and participation in environmental conservation activities by every Kenyan through education and awareness campaigns. This is expected to foster inclusiveness and partnerships in environmental conservation and management. The implementation of EEAI will ensure effective stakeholder involvement and resource mobilization in environmental management.
Objectives of EEAI
i) Increase environmental awareness and participation in environmental
ii) Mobilize the general public to get involved in the protection and conservation
of the environment and especially catchment conservation.
iii) Encourage media to embrace effective, positive and informative
environmental coverage in order to enhance awareness and prioritization
of the environment.
Proposed EEAI Activities
EEAI will mainly cover the following seven key areas:
• Public awareness campaigns
• Outreach and education
• Tree planting
• Clean-up campaigns
• Creating awareness of environmental challenges and solutions
• Promotion of best practices
• Dissemination of environmental messages through mass and folk media
Partnerships in Environmental Management Effective environmental management requires the participation of all stakeholders. EEAI will promote partnerships to integrate environmental management into the national development agenda across all sectors. The implementation of the initiative will take cognizance of the following approaches:
• Environment and Private sector
The Private Sector largely depends on the natural resource base as raw materials for production of products and services. However, the private sector often degrades the environment through generation & poor waste disposal, effluent discharge and emissions into the environment. As such EEAI offers a forum for public and
private sector partnerships in environmental conservation. This approach will synchronize activities for better management of the environment.
• Environment and Society
The civil society and general public comprise a major stakeholder in environmental management and governance. The society influence decision-making systems based on the level of understanding, physical location, knowledge, experience and presence. The initiative will work with organized groups such as CSOs and BOs in order to enhance environmental awareness.
• Environment and Youth
The Youth represent a large proportion of the Kenyan population and the future generation of the country. As such the youth provide a great potential in environmental conservation activities due to their large numbers and energies. EEAI will serve to provide a forum for youth participate in environmental conservation activities.Youth partnerships will be through learning institutions such as schools,colleges and universities as well as organized groups. Involvement the youth will enhance environmental consciousness and encourage good environmental practices for the future generation. Youth activities will include poems, art/music, drama, debate on topical issues, establishment of tree nurseries, tree planting activities and clean-up campaigns among others.
•Environment and Research
There is need to strengthen the link between research and environment. EEAI will encourage universities to undertake research on priority environmental issues in the country that will provide practical solutions and technologies.Other opportunities will be explored to identify potential areas of collaboration in both research and teaching. This will enhance the capacity in management of environmental issues.
•Environment and Media
The media is an important stakeholder in environmental education and awareness creation. The key advantage of the media is its’ ability to reach different audiences simultaneously with uniform messages. The main channels of communication include print and electronic media such as Newspapers, radio, television and cinema among others. As such, there is need to work closely with the media to enhance coverage of accurate information in the news, events, programmes and documentaries on topical environmental iissues. It is expected that this will help in?uence positive attitude and change of behaviour. The media houses are therefore urged to embrace environmental conservation as Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR).
Mobilization & Implementation Strategies
Several environmental mobilization strategies have been developed by various stakeholders such as those by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). EEAI will harness and supplement these efforts, carry out education and awareness campaigns, help strengthen capacity of existing efforts and galvanize sectoral and institutional partnerships involving all partners. EEAI will promote the conservation of wetlands
EEAI Expected Outcomes
i. Positive change of attitude and participation in environmental conservation
among the Kenyan public
ii. Enhanced prioritization of the environment among stakeholders
iii. Enhanced partnerships in environmental governance between MEMR