Relationship Between the Environment and the Use of Resources in Kenya Essay

According to the environmental courts act in Kenya, environment means the totality of nature and natural resources, including the cultural heritage and infrastructure essential for social-economic activities (environmental and land court act, 2011). The environment ca also be defined as the biotic and a biotic surrounding of an organism, or population, and includes particularly the factors that have an influence in their survival, development and evolution Environmental resource management is “a purposeful activity with the goal to maintain and improve the state of an environmental resource affected by human activities.

It is not, as the phrase suggests, the management of the environment as such, but rather the management of the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment. Environmental resources management aims to ensure that ecosystem services are protected and maintained for equitable use by future human generations, and also, maintain ecosystem integrity as an end in itself by taking into consideration ethical, economic, and scientific (ecological) variables. Environmental resource management tries to identify the factors that have a stake in the conflicts that may rise between meeting the needs and protecting the resources.

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A policy may be defined as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. An environmental policy therefore is a principle or rule that guides decisions to achieve rational outcomes in matters pertaining to the environment. The natural resources, all over the world are coming under increasing pressure to support a population that is increasing at a very high rate. As a result, the resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, which leads to the implication that unless urgent conservatory measures are taken, the resources will not be able to keep up.

This has brought into the attention of scholars’ world wide that under the current rate of depletion of the natural resources, most of them will either entirely vanish or simply not be able to sustain life for the future generations. As a result, there are call for the sustainable exploitation of resources and the conservation of those that are not renewable so that the future generations can also benefit from them and enjoy their aesthetic value. The environmental issues that emerged in Kenya as a result of this over exploitation and pressure on the atural resources were mainly felt in: Water resources Water resources are under pressure from agricultural chemicals and urban and industrial wastes, as well as from use for hydroelectric power. Kenya expects a shortage of water to pose a problem in the coming years. Water-quality problems in lakes, including water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria and now in Lake Naivasha, have contributed to a substantial decline in fishing output and endangered fish species. Forestry Output from forestry also has declined because of resource degradation.

Overexploitation over the past three decades has reduced the country’s timber resources by one-half. At present only 2% of the land remains forested, and an estimated 50 square kilometers of forest are lost each year. This loss of forest aggravates erosion, the silting of dams and flooding, and the loss of biodiversity. Among the endangered forests are Kakamega Forest, Mau Forest and Karura Forest. In response to ecological disruption, activists have pressed with some success for policies that encourage sustainable resource use.

The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize went to the Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, best known for organizing a grassroots movement in which thousands of people were mobilized over the years to plant 30 million trees in Kenya and elsewhere and to protest forest clearance for luxury development. Maathai linked deforestation with the plight of rural women, who are forced to spend untold hours in search of scarce firewood and water. Wildlife There are a wide variety of wildlife species in Kenya, whose habitats are threatened by encroachment of man and the poachers that live in rural Kenya. Poverty

Widespread poverty in many parts of the country has greatly leads to over-exploitation of the limited resources in Kenya. Cutting down of trees to create more land for cultivation, charcoal burning business, quarrying among other social and occupational practices are the major threats of environmental degradation due to poverty in rural Kenya. Floods There is the risk of seasonal flooding during the long rains season of July to late August. In September 2012, thousands of people were displaced in parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley Province as floodwaters submerged houses and schools and destroyed crops.

It was especially dangerous as the floods caused latrines to overflow, contaminating numerous water sources. The floods can also cause mudslides. As a result of these issues and many others, such as climate change, the government of Kenya had to formulate a way to both create environmental awareness and deal with the problem of environmental degradation. The 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro came up with various recommendations, among Them Agenda 21, a Global Environmental Action Plan. The theme of the Summit focused on how Nations could attain sustainable development.

The Government of Kenya embraced this idea by developing the first National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) in 1994. Since independence, Kenya has continued to demonstrate her commitment to environmental management through various initiatives, among them the National Development Plans of 1974 and the National Environment Action Plan of 1994. Further, there have been a number of sectoral policies on environment in fields such as Agriculture, Livestock, Water, Energy, Food, Land, Wildlife, Forest, Industry, Trade, Arid Lands and Disaster Management.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999 provides for the integration of environmental concerns in national policies, plans, programs and projects. In this regard, the Act provides for the formulation of National, Provincial and District Environment Action Plans every five years. Environmental Action Planning is a tool that aims at integrating environmental concerns into development planning. The process followed in preparing this DEAP was participatory, involving various stakeholders from institutions and sectors, including the public, private, NGOs and local communities at District and Provincial levels.

These consultative meetings provided the basis also for formulation of the PEAP and finally the National Environment Action Plan. The main role of the NEAP is to provide a platform for the formation of the othe task forces, for instance, it led to the formation of the EMCA. The Environmental Management and Coordination Act, EMCA, 1999 is an environmental act that provides for the establishment of an appropriate legal and institutional framework for the management of the environment and matters related to the environment.

It is a framework for environmental legislation that establishes appropriate legal and institutional mechanisms for the management of the environment. It provides for improved legal and administrative co-ordination of the diverse initiatives of various sectors in order to improve the national capacity for the management of the environment. This is in view of the fact that the environment constitutes the foundation of national economic, social, cultural and spiritual advancement. The EMCA was charged with the following responsibilities.

Guide the coordination of environmental planning Establish committees that ensure that the ongoing projects have no negative effects, either short term or long term, on the environment. Provide guidelines for the formation of quality and standards community that ensure cleaner production with respect to air, water, soil and biodiversity. EMCA defines offences associated with the environment Provide the ways for entering both regional and international treaties and agreements. Stipulates guidelines concerning government impact analysis.

Among other roles. The EMCA made great strides in the years since its formation. The way the people perceive the environment has greatly improved, thanks the EMCA the people now see the environment as resource which must be protected and preserved for their own good. This perception goes a long way in encouraging conservatory and sustainable use of the environment. However, the EMCA faces several challenges such as the interference of powerful people and the lack of proper funding.

The EMCA is also what is referred to as a ‘toothless dog’ because while it has powers to make observations, it remained powerless to act on its own. This led to the establishment of the environmental court (2011) and the establishment of a new task force, NEMA. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is established under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), as the principal instrument of government in the implementation of all policies relating to the environment.

The Authority became operational on 1st July 2002 following the merger of three government departments, namely: the National Environment Secretariat (NES), the Permanent Presidential Commission on Soil Conservation and Afforestation (PPCSCA), and the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS). However, following government restructuring in March 2003, DRSRS reverted to its departmental status under the then Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR).

There was a transition period characterized by the integration of previous departmental activities and appointment of the first Board of Management. NEMA is charged with the following responsibilities; Coordinating the various environmental management activities being undertaken by the lead agencies Promote the integration of environmental considerations into development policies, plans, programs and projects, with a view to ensuring the proper management and rational utilization of environmental resources, on sustainable yield basis, for the improvement of the quality of human life in Kenya.

To take stock of the natural resources in Kenya and their utilization and conservation. To establish and review land use guidelines. Examine land use patterns to determine their impact on the quality and quantity of natural resources. Carry out surveys, which will assist in the proper management and conservation of the environment. Advise the Government on legislative and other measures for the management of the environment or the implementation of relevant international conventions, treaties and agreements.

Advise the Government on regional and international conventions, treaties and agreements to which Kenya should be a party and follow up the implementation of such agreements. Undertake and coordinate research, investigation and surveys, collect, collate and disseminate information on the findings of such research, investigations or surveys. Mobilize and monitor the use of financial and human resources for environmental management. Identify projects and programs for which environmental audit or environmental monitoring must be conducted under this Act.

Initiate and evolve procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents, which may cause environmental degradation and evolve remedial measures where accidents occur e. g. floods, landslides and oil-spills. Monitor and assess activities, including activities being carried out by relevant lead agencies, in order to ensure that the environment is not degraded by such activities. Management objectives must be adhered to and adequate early warning on impending environmental emergencies is given.

Undertake, in cooperation with relevant lead agencies, programs intended to enhance environmental education and public awareness, about the need for sound environmental management, as well as for enlisting public support and encouraging the effort made by other entities in that regard. Publish and disseminate manual codes or guidelines relating to environmental management and prevention or abatement of environmental degradation. Render advice and technical support, where possible, to entities engaged in natural resources management and environmental protection, so as to enable them to carry out their responsibilities satisfactorily.

Prepare and issue an annual report on the State of Environment in Kenya and in this regard, may direct any lead agency to prepare and submit to it a report on the state of the sector of the environment under the administration of that lead agency. NEMA was an instant success. The violators of the environment were instantly put on the spotlight and charged in the environmental court. NEMA has been very instrumental in ensuring that the environment is used sustainably and equitably. However, like the EMCA, NEMA is also faced by problems of political interference and the shortage of funds.

There are also issues of corruption in its ranks whereby the high ranking official take bribes to ignore a hazardous activity. However, simply creating awareness and prosecuting offender does not undo the damage done on the environment. It is for this reason that the government established the

References

http://www. articlesbase. com/college-and-university-articles/role-of-emca-1999-in-environment-management-in-kenya-2112528. html http://www. ecoprofiles. org/ad_details. php? co=17 The environment and land court act, 2011