The major environmental problems, issues and challenges in Kenya include:
- Environmental degradation;
- Deterioration of water quality and quantity;
- Pollution and waste management;
- Impacts of Climate change and Global Warming;
- Inadequate adoption of Bio-Technology
- Lack of an integrated environmental planning strategy towards attaining the sustainable development objective
- Unclear delineation of some roles for lead agencies in environmental matters
- Inadequate appreciation of the role of NEMA by the public and lead agencies
- Poor governance
- Poverty level which leads to desperation and sacrifice of the environment as people seek livelihood
- Widespread poverty exacerbated by the impact of HIV/AIDS
- Erosion of cultural values in environmental conservation
- Conflicts on natural resource use
- Inadequate national accounting for natural resources
- Cultural practices which are unfriendly to the environment
- Inadequate data, research and research funding
How to solve environmental challenges in Kenya
Environment is a term used to mean our home environment with human population and its physical surrounding, in other words, Environment refers to living and non living things and how they interact with their surroundings including the atmosphere, air, water and land. It is the surrounding which includes human as well as environment ecological dimensions and physical environment.
Environmental management is the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the various elements of the environment. Good environmental management involves activities that enhances environment and create conditions favorable to people and other living organisms.
The National Environment Management Authority is mandated to coordinate all those institutions that may have an interest in environmental management. These are some ways through which environmental challenges can be solved.
Encouraging Afforestation Projects.
Wood fuel is still the most important source of domestic energy in Kenya. Trees are also required as a source of timber both for domestic consumption and export. Tree cutting has therefore lead to deforestation, soil erosion and desertification in many parts of Kenya. Regional tree planting initiatives should be established and encouraged to help save the forests.
Pest Control Programmes.
Specific programmes geared towards the areas affected by pests and diseases like those affecting the pastoral farmers should be introduced in such areas to educate and enable such farmers understand the nature of these problems especially in relation to the environment and how effective measures can be taken to control such problems.
Conservation of Biodiversity.
In Kenya, there is a rapid depiction of the living natural resources.
Deforestation, land degradation and desertification are the main processes affecting the loss of biodiversity. Citizens should be educated on the needs to protect the environment since the majority of Kenyan population are either not aware of the importance of managing their environment or the dangers that waits them having degraded their environment.
Local participation in the identification and implementation of development projects is essential since the complex interaction between social, cultural, economic and environmental factors are best understood by those involved, and their contribution to the planning process would promote the preparation of appropriate development strategies.
Participation can be direct or indirect. It is seen as a process by which local people become managers of their own development and are simultaneously becoming more empowered. Participation entails the involvement of communities in designing, planning, implementing and the evaluating their resource development programmes. Thus a major hindrance to community participation has been the attitudes and behavior of the public sector development workers.
In retrospect the encouragement of local communities to participate in conservation practice should be given priority so as to ensure a sound foundation upon which relevant environmental policies could be effectively implemented.
Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative (EEIA).
EEAI provides 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 should ensure effective stakeholder involvement and resource mobilization in environmental management.
EEAI should aim to;
i) Increase environmental awareness and participation in environmental activities
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.
These could be achieved through;
• 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.
Involvement of Religious Organizations.
Almost all religions in Kenya believe that the Earth is a creation which requires nursing. However, few of these have incorporated environmental planning and conservation in their teachings. These religions could be very effective in spreading environmental information, considering the very large number of followers they have.
At present some of these tasks are being handled by other NGOs which seem to have been better equipped, but they have very minimal coverage. On the other hand, the potential held by traditional religions in this regard remains untapped.