Tuesday, December 20, 2011

0 Cheap Roses Cost The Earth

Valentine's Day Roses Bought in UK Could 'Bleed Lake Naivasha Dry,' Warns Ecologist

ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2011) — A University of Leicester ecologist who has spent over 30 years researching wetland conservation at Lake Naivasha in Kenya has warned that the country is being "bled dry" by the UK's demand for fresh flowers. He called on UK supermarkets to show more concern about the health of the natural environment that the flowers come from.
Dr David Harper, of the Department of Biology, University of Leicester, has been working at Lake Naivasha as part of ongoing research and projects on the ecosystem of lakes in Kenya.
Dr Harper said UK supermarkets should do more than simply selling "Fair Trade" roses. They should look beyond the farm gate at the sustainability of the natural resource that feeds the flowers -- Lake Naivasha.
He said: "A notable few of the farmers sending roses to Europe are showing concern and an eagerness to pioneer a sustainable way forward: the best flower farms have achieved Fair Trade status, which brings money back into the workforce for social welfare improvements. Two farms have even seconded senior managers to help Kenya's water management agency at Naivasha."
He warned that increased UK supermarket promotions of flowers over Valentine's Day, and subsequently on Mother's Day, without showing concern about where or how environmentally sustainable roses can be grown, will just increase the export of water -- the scarcest natural resource in Kenya.
"There are just a few good farms but many more that don't care how much damage they do to the lake. Seventy percent of the roses sold in European supermarkets come from Kenya and the majority of those are from Naivasha, many thus coming without any ecological certification. This has to change for the future of the industry as well as the lake and the country," said Dr Harper.
Switzerland is the only country in Europe that cares about selling environmentally sustainable Kenyan roses, says Dr Harper, because the Swiss Coop -- its largest supermarket -- recycles some of its profits to fund sustainability projects at the lake.
He said: "Over the past 20 years, Lake Naivasha has been seriously degraded by over-abstraction of water. The blame has invariably been put onto flower farmers, who use irrigation to grow the roses that adorn the vases in our homes -- especially on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
"The ecology of the lake has deteriorated due to lack of government enforcement of the laws that regulate water abstraction, prevent over-fishing or stop clearance of wetland vegetation."
"The European supermarket leader on sustainability issues -- the Swiss Coop -- is now putting money from its profits into a feasibility study for a project, led by me and Dr Caroline Upton, a Social Scientist from the Geography Department and our PhD student, Mr Ed Morrison, which will address key issues of sustainability of the whole lake basin with key local partner organisations. These include the Kenya management agency responsible for water abstraction, local conservation groups with whom we has worked for years and an innovative new NGO, making educational films teaching people, including flower farm workers, about water and sustainability."
Dr Harper would love to see UK supermarkets following the Swiss Coop's initiative, as the German-Austrian supermarket REWE is considering doing.
"The Kenyan Government, whom I have advised through the Prime Minister's Office, has launched "Imarisha Naivasha," a campaign to bring all parties together to change damaging behaviours and enforce laws. People who live and work around the lake are showing concern and eagerness to be taught a sustainable way forward. The few farms have led the way with innovations like hydroponics for growing flowers in minimal water and wetland systems for wastewater treatment.
"But what are UK supermarkets doing?" I see nothing positive, just plenty of platitudes. The Swiss Coop is the only supermarket to look beyond the farm gate, accepting that there cannot be sustainable roses from a failing lake system, no matter how many with Fair Trade status are grown. The Swiss Coop can see that sustainable roses must come from a sustainable lake ecosystem and not just a well-run farm. It's a pity that British supermarkets are so short sighted that they cannot see this too."
Dr Harper called for UK supermarkets to accept more responsibility by promoting sustainable management policies that reach beyond the farms and help to conserve the ecosystem which will allow flowers (and profits) to flourish beside a healthy, restored lake. If the flowers they sell could show a 'water ecological footprint' customers might be able to choose more discerningly, as they presently are seeking to do with food miles.
Story Source: 
The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of Leicester. Science Daily.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

0 Re-Greening Africa in the Footsteps of Wangari Maathai

Re-Greening Africa in the Footsteps of Wangari Maathai
By Isaiah Esipisu

NAIROBI, Sep 28 , 2011 (IPS) - Africa needs to remain focused and continue following the late Professor Wangari Maathai’s initiatives for environmental sustainability in order to address climate change across the continent, environmentalists say.

Maathai, the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2004, was founder of the Green Belt Movement , which aimed to reforest Kenya, stop soil erosion and provide firewood for families by paying poor women to plant trees. She passed away on Sep. 25.

"In the current era of climate change, the professor has left behind adaptation actions that we must implement in order to save the poorest of the poor that solely depend on the environment and natural resources," said Gaster Kawuubye Kiyingi, the national project manager for Tree Talk Plus , a network of organisations engaged in the development and sustainability of the forestry sector in Uganda.

Kiyingi said some of these adaptations include campaigning for forest-based enterprises and the sustained use and planting of more trees.

Since its inception in 1997 the Green Belt Movement has directly planted over 30 million trees in Africa and assisted nearly 900,000 women to establish nurseries and plant trees to reverse the effects of deforestation.

The United Nations estimated that by the time of Maathai’s death over 11 billion trees had been planted, especially in Africa, by different organisations through her campaign.

Kiyingi said Africa needs to stay focused on the late professor’s initiatives for environmental sustainability because it is key to attaining the Millennium Development Goals – eight time-bound goals tackling poverty and its various dimensions that the U.N. member states agreed to in 2000.

"There is an urgent need for Africa to address issues relating to environmental laws and governance, law enforcement and trade in natural resources. They are a ‘cancer’ eating at the very core of our leadership, and it is what Maathai (fought against)," he told IPS.

According to Jan Vandenabeele, the executive director of Better Globe Forestry Limited, a Kenyan afforestation company, there remains a need for civil society and social organisations to join hands to plant more trees and harvest them sustainably. But, he said, Kenya may be close to achieving Maathai’s dream.

"In Kenya the new constitution is very clear that every piece of arable land should have at least 10 percent of forest cover. If this is implemented, then we will be living the dream of the late Professor Maathai," said Vendenabeele.

He added that for Africa to realise the dream of a green continent there needs to be more investment in environmental research.

Dr. Maxwell Kinyanjui of the Woodlands Trust 2000, a Kenyan-based organisation that provides afforestation and allied services to those involved in the tree industry, said that in order to address the issue of deforestation in Africa, leaders and related organisations must begin by addressing energy sources.

"Charcoal production is one of the major causes of deforestation in Africa. But until farmers invest in sustainable charcoal production, people will continue cutting down trees that were not originally planted for the sake of charcoal production," he said.

Land grabbing is another problem that continues to affect forests in Africa. Maathai had always been steadfast in protecting natural resources, not only in Kenya, but also in other African countries. In Uganda she campaigned to save the Mabira Forest Reserve.

"I remember Professor Maathai for her efforts to protect Karura Forest on the outskirts of Nairobi city. The forest land had already been (claimed) by individuals linked to the former political regime between 1998 and 2002. But she protested until all the people who had been allocated land by the then government left," said Paul Barasa, a former senior corporate affairs officer at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute.

Maathai, a professor of veterinary anatomy, also prevented former Kenyan former President Daniel arap Moi from erecting a 62-storey building on a recreational park.

Now Uhuru Park is the largest public park in Kenya. It is adjacent to the city and is usually bursting with activity. Couples row boats on the lake, hundreds of children play on the grass while their parents relax under trees. Thanks to Maathai’s campaigning it is one of the most serene areas in Nairobi.

Kiyingi says more needs to be done to save the trees and forests of Africa.

"Each African country needs to have proper policies that can protect tree cover from illegal logging and encroachments. But the sad thing is that the very leaders who are supposed to protect the forests are the same people who grab forest land, or conspire with grabbers," said Kiyingi.

Kiyingi said that there are currently several tree planting initiatives in Uganda, most of which are linked to Maathai’s Green Belt Movement.

"Such efforts must be sustained at all costs because the environment is our livelihood," he said.

Maathai’s idea of providing incentives for people to plant trees needs to be replicated in order to realise the dream of a green Africa.

"The idea of undertaking tree planting as an income-generating activity will be sufficient motivation for tree planting across Africa and as a result, there seems to be a ray of hope in re-greening Africa."   (END)

Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS 

Friday, September 23, 2011

0 The Center for Sustainable Drylands (CSD) Established

The Center for Sustainable Drylands (CSD) has now been established at the LARMAT Department. This collaborative effort between University of Nairobi and Colorado State University promises to bring much more visibility to our research and training programmes.

About the Center
The Center for Sustainable Drylands is one of 11 partnerships between Africa and U.S. institutions of higher Education that has received a two-year funding through a competitive grant process by Africa -USAID/Higher Education for Development Initiative.

The implementation of the Center’s activities will be done collaboratively with other institutions/organizations such as; RUFORUM, Dryland Management Programme at University of Nairobi, ILRI, Reto-o-Reto Foundation, Ministry of Northern Kenya and IUCN among others. The Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and societies will have an Advisory Board composed of key players in development issues and institutions of higher learning and a Project Implementation Team headed by a Project Director/Coordinator.
Some of the Center activities include mainstreaming dryland issues in academic curricula review, short courses for skill building in dryland development and recruitment of Center interns among others. The center will also award short fellowships and grants for students and interns as well as faculty to work on needs-driven research for development on a competitive basis.

The Center for Sustainable Drylands will achieve this purpose through the following Five objectives:
  • creating a center in UON which results in effective co-ordination of interdisplinary education, research and outreach supporting sustainable dryland ecosystems and societies in Kenya.
  • Developing  a dryland leadership Learning Program at the UON resulting in greater capacity of students and faculty to address the problems of dryland ecosystems and societies in Kenya.
  • Developing  a comparative, trans-displinary Research-for-Development Program resulting in addressing the development and sustainability needs of dryland communities, their ecosystems and the policymakers who serve them.
  • Creating a dryland community outreach program resulting in greater participation in higher education by pastoralists, especially women, for development of more appropriate innovations for dryland systems and.
  • Developing a drylands learning platform for Knowledge exchange resulting in effective coordination and impacts of education, research and outreach for drylands of Kenya.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

0 Healing the Grasslands, Rangelands and Savannas of the World - We need a brown revolution (Allan Savory)

Allan Savory pursued an early career as a research biologist, game ranger, soldier, politician and international consultant in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Exiled in 1979, he co-founded the non-profit Center for Holistic Management in 1984 and in 2009 the Savory Institute with his wife Jody Butterfield and colleagues in the United States. In 1992, they formed a second non-profit (social welfare) organisation, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, donating a ranch that would serve as a learning site for people all over Africa.
In 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person doing the most for the environment on a global scale. His current work in Africa is receiving much praise and recognition and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge for the organisation providing the most comprehensive solution to a pressing global problem.
Savory gave the keynote speech at this year’s UNCCD Land Day in Bonn on 11 June, where he spoke with UNCCD News editor Susanne Reiff.

Food security: the top issue is biodiversity

Today, we are producing more eroding soil than food. I think that is probably the most frightening statistic in the world. When we destroy soil, a vast amount of carbon is released into the atmosphere. Food security is impossible while this problem exists.

To achieve food security and human security, we need to focus on the degradation taking place in all environments. Every environment in the world is now degrading to some extent. Fish stocks have been destroyed and coral reefs are being destroyed, but we can find solutions to these problems through our conventional thinking. If these environments rest, they will recover. If overfishing stops, even if the world’s entire cod stocks have been depleted, the sea will recover, given time. The same applies to the world’s humid environments. But in areas of the world with only seasonal rain and in arid regions, biodiversity loss needs to be stopped as a matter of urgency, and current thinking changed. Biodiversity is not only about charismatic species. It is about humble soil-covering litter, soil microorganisms and many other factors. For food security, biodiversity is the top issue. 

When addressing food security, most people limit their view to the croplands. However, we also need to focus on stabilising all the catchment areas. Rainfall has to be effective – it needs to soak in the soil and stay there, rather than evaporate or run off. We cannot rely on irrigation or agroforestry alone for sustainability. They create oases in an expanding desert. 

Read on.........

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

0 Blue Gold

Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil today, as the source of human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management.

Watch full film here. If you and I plant each a tree, and learn how to conserve water and energy. If the rest in the world around us follow suit, we can abate a brisk future for our generations after us. We need to protect, conserve and restore our watersheds, and plant trees in every idle land.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

0 Of Forests and Men

Yann Arthus-Bertrand was appointed by the United Nations to produce the official film for the International Year of Forests. Following the success of Home which was seen by 400 million people, the photographer began producing a short 7-minute film on forests made up of aerial images from Home and the Vu du Ciel television programmes. This film will be shown during a plenary session of the Ninth Session of United Nations Forum on Forests (24 January - 4 February 2011) in New York. With the voice of EDWARD NORTON. www.goodplanet.org/forets

Monday, July 18, 2011

0 Mau Forest Complex, not just an ecosystem, but an entire life-system

Mau Forest Complex is the largest watershed (water tower) in Kenya, and a key pillar to the future of the nation and her economy. Forty percent of the Kenya's hydro-electric power is generated from rivers flowing from Mau. The famous Mara River supporting the booming tourism industry in Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park originate from Mau. without Mau Forest Complex, there will be no Wonder of the World in the Wilderbeast Migration. Mau is therefore, not just an ecosystem, but an entire life-system, a source of water, biodiversity and many other environmental goods and services besides regulating the changing climate. The videos below focus on the importance of Mau forest to Kenya, how it has been affected and what communities and the government are doing to restore it.  Despite the pains and the costs, we have no choice but to restore it and conserve it........to posterity.

1. Mara River and Mau Forest - by No Water no Life

2. Mau Devastation, bad politics ignores glaring facts

3. No Mau no Kenya (Courtesy of TVALIN and JVISION MEDIA)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

0 Restoring Damaged Ecosystems in Kenya - It’s now or never!

Can we win the struggle against locally accelerated environmental and climate change? Yes we can. But, how, you ask? During his campaigns, the current US President, Barrack Obama told Americans “we are the change that we seek”. How true! Kenya can change, if you and I change, Kenya can protect her environment, if I protect the environment where I am living or working. Together we can restore, protect and conserve our environment. We can demand our County and Constituency leaders give more priority to environmental matters. We could stop blaming others and climate change for our environmental problems, and take control and responsibility in order to reap benefit later.
It is indeed, win-win situation, for the environment and for us, the inhabitants. We could mitigate against the environment and climatic-related woes that too often befallen our people: The droughts due to rainfall failure since we have interfered with the hydrological cycle by encroaching the forests, wantonly cutting down trees on our lands without planting new ones. The floods since without trees the storms cannot infiltrate and recharge the soil, but just runs off. The biodiversity loss, that now our children cannot play with; frog eggs (‘chains’) and tadpoles which are no longer present in their Grandpa’s streams and springs - they dried up! Gone.
However, there is hope. Together as a nation we can choose to plant 7.6 billion trees, and again plant trees, and afterward plant more trees. We could choose to control our population which is growing at an exponential rate, while our land and natural resources are diminishing. Our options are indeed endless….but the consequences of what we choose to do from now on are definite…. The one and only choice we cannot afford is to wait and see what comes round.

Friday, July 8, 2011

0 Decision to change

Most people in the rural areas in Kenya can attest that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has precipitated a lot of development in the rural areas, where the ‘direct government funding’ could not reach before. Roads have been repaired; bore holes sunk, bridges, dispensaries and schools built with CDF kitty (especially where leaders were not corrupt). Similar case can apply to the protection of our environment and restoration of our damaged ecosystems. As the government aims to increase the current forest cover from 1.7% to 10% by ambitiously planting of 7.6 billion trees, Constituency Environment Fund (CEF) proposal can be a means of achieving this goal in an inclusive and a participatory manner. It will ensure that every area of Kenya receives funds for restoring and protecting whatever part of their environment they prioritize.
Under the right legal framework which can be an Act of Parliament as supported by Chapter 5 part b on Environment and Natural Resource in the New Constitution, our environment can take a new dimension. We can then boast of vibrant springs and flowing streams, well protected river courses, desilted dams hence increased volume of water in reservoirs and increased forest cover. Reduced environmental destruction can only occur when people become aware of the contribution of the local environment to local, national and global climate and environment. That is they become ‘environmental-wise’ or ‘eco-wise’, meaning they utilize the environment in a sustainable way, and thus expect positive feedbacks from the environment too.
Quoting the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai, Founder - The Green Belt Movement, ‘if we take care of the environment, it will take care of us, but if we don’t it will kill us’. She also said that ‘we see carcasses of animals everywhere….we can see carcasses of people everywhere’. How true! We have seen communities loose thousands of animals, and Kenyans die of hunger in the recent times in places there used to receive good amounts of rainfall, or of floods in areas with no history of flooding. What happened? 'Climate and environmental change.'...of course, in America and China, probably, but most of 'it' right here at home!  We have cut down trees indiscriminately and wantonly destroyed every aspect of our environment, and have eroded our only buffer to environmental woes. With no trees and our soils capped, rain water cannot recharge the ground water table, and every rain drop runs off. Two drops carries off the top soil, ten drops sweeps animals and people. And ‘as a nation’s soil goes, so goes the nation’. As Kenya loses her soil, it is simultaneously loosing the means to feed herself. We then go begging for food while we can strategically expect and  plan for sub-normal situations. Dams and lakes are slowly but surely turning into marshes following heavy siltation, and reduced in-flows. Biodiversity (plants and animals) that forms a basis of our robust tourism industry is in the process not spared. We are indeed destroying Mother Nature at our own peril.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

0 Eat Mother Nature at your own peril

'It's Our Turn To Eat!' or so Michela Wrong's Githongo story went! Back to our subject, Mother Nature is calm, serene and cool and will not raise a finger as we go about destroying her. We can almost have our field day on it, excising and clearing forests to grow tea,  'that it's better than the trees', doing legal and illegal logging, burning charcoal, cultivating up-slope and on the river-banks, approving buildings in urban riparian areas and on top of rivers, building roads through wetlands and dying to justify it, tolerating people in the forests and debating all the year-long how to compensate them, and whether their Title Deeds are legal or fake, Okaying projects in highly fragile ecosystems – that they will produce sweeter sugar than where sugar normally grows, and clearing forests to build a dams for HEP Plants, as if the dams will not 'need the forests', and so goes the wanton destruction of Kenya’s environment without any thought of tomorrow. EIA  is free public show. 'Watoto kaeni chini' Factual Films presents......'Myopic Action'
It is like eating poison! Then Grrrrrrrrrh*&^%, Mother Nature wakes up and fights back. Rains starts to fail, becomes more unpredictable, unreliable and scarce, rivers dries up, thus no water in the taps – meaning increased risks for preventable diseases like cholera, dysentery and others especially to the many Kenyans living under a dollar a day, no water for irrigation - thus no food and the government has to look up for like KES 37 Billion to fund food budget (and because donors know it is us partly to blame, and partly climate change which is not a domain of Kenya alone, they are slow in responding to aid). For many are good at preventing fires in the first place, not quenching them when it is too late; no electricity as Masinga HEP Plant shuts down among others – meaning industries runs sub-optimally thus has to cut jobs.
While degrading our environment, it’s like we have been eating poison; then we start writhing in pain as the active ingredients starts to work on our bodies. Depending on the dosage, we die or thereafter live with damaged organs. Restoration while possible cannot take back an ecosystem like Mau Forest Complex to where it was before the ‘plunder’. But it is the noblest thing we can do and forever cherish.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

0 Constituency Environmental Committee (CEC) and Constituency Environmental Inspector (CEI): Terms of Reference

The Constituency Environmental Committee (CEC), terms of reference shall include:

·         Regularly consult and discuss with the local people in Location-based meetings on the priority areas that the fund can take care of with sole aim of restoring and protecting the environment.
·         Administer the Constituency Environment Fund (CEF) at constituency level
·         Vet and hire Constituency Environmental Inspectors (CEIs) and Assistant CEIs
·         Vet and fund environmental-based proposals for Youth and Women Projects
·         Report regularly to the treasury (or any other appropriate body) on the use of the allocated funding.
·         Carry out biannual internal and annual external audit of funds allocated to CEF.

The Constituency Environmental Inspector (CEI), terms of reference shall include:

·         Keep a registry and a data base of all the project being undertaken by the CEF in his or her respective constituency, their status (completed, on-going, targeted, suggested etc) and specific remarks for each one of them,
·         Keep a registry of all the leases (private wetland leased out to CEF), their status (stopped, on-going, targeted, proposed, etc) and specific remarks on each one of them,
·         Keep a photographic database of ‘before’ and ‘after‘ intervention in each project of lease,
·         Visit the intervention areas regularly (assisted by the Assistant CEIs), to inspect if parties are adhering to their terms of the agreement in case of a lease.
·         Hold regular meeting with the local people at location level (can be convened by the Chief) in order to consult and prioritize environmental needs in the area.
·         Report back to the CEC who shall then see how to allocate the funds at hand as they set priorities for the following financial year.
·         The CEC with the help of the CEI can apply for independent funding from other sources to beef up what is allocated by the Treasury.
·         The CEI shall be a holder of a university degree, majoring in management of agroecosystems, agriculture, ecology, natural resource management or environmental science.
·         Assistant CEI shall be a Diploma holders in the above subjects, or agricultural extension and education.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

0 Constituency Environment Fund (CEF)'s Role

a)     Hire out springs and other chemi-chemi’s (all wetland areas in privately owned farms), for protection and conservation, and pay such land owners yearly in exchange of the forgone benefit from the said wetland. Replant Cypereceae and Juncaceae species in such wetlands where necessary. The farmer who has leased out his wetland shall be allowed to use it in a non destructive way, meaning he or she cannot cultivate or graze as long as the contract is in force. Instead cut and carry can be allowed. For instance, the farmers whose lands have springs and stream sources can have that part of the land leased out for an agreed amount of money paid annually from the Constituency Environment Fund (CEF). The spring would then be protected through a natural fence such as a hedge or suitable trees planted in a line. Most of these wetlands are under-utilized, and others were abandoned after several rounds of cultivation due to drying up of water sources. Therefore, the cash payment would be a great incentive to lease it out to CEF.
b)     Desilt dams and clear local rivers and streams to renewed flow by hiring labour from local youth first (as in Kazi-Kwa-Vijana arrangement) and only use heavy machinery whenever necessary, in order to harvest and reserve water in the subsequent rainfall events. The local people can benefit from having a large water reservoir in their neighborhood, including fishing activities. Such youth, would also not get time to engage in drugs abuse, outlawed groups and other illegal activities, as they would be busy in country building activities. They could also be encouraged to form village environmental clubs.
c)     Establish indigenous (adapted to the local area) trees nurseries and sell seedlings at subsidized rates to the locals or anybody willing to plant trees. Such nurseries can be run by local youth and women groups, funded by CEF through competitive proposal vetting procedure.
d)     Establish Annual Constituency Cash Prizes and Certificate Awards for – the best environmentally protected farm, best school in terms of environmental protection and awareness, best protected private wetland, best practices in environmental restoration and rehabilitation, best practices in soil and water conservation etc.
e)     Engage the Youth to plant trees in an organized way in all underutilized public land and communal grounds (around Cattle Dips, Shopping Centers, Dispensaries, and Major Roads passing through the Constituency). Such trees shall be planted on the onset of rains, and shall be watered whenever necessary until they establish. Dead seedlings or Juvenile trees to be replaced immediately they are noticed.
f)      Create awareness on the importance of protecting the environment  at all levels. This can be done for example by organizing environmental ‘village’ sports and tree planting days at Constituency or inter-Constituency levels with purpose of bringing communities together to talk about the environment. Also, encourage the private sector to 'Adopt-A-Catchment' under their Corporate Responsibility arrangements.
g)     Funding Youth Environmental and Conservation Clubs, Community Based Organizations and Volunteers initiatives (links are for example purposes only). These should be vetted through being required to present proposals to CEC, and if funded be required to submit quarterly reports besides being inspected by the Constituency Environmental Inspectors (CEIs). Tree nurseries, can be charged to such clubs for instance, but the proposals should be voluntary and independent.
h)     Payment of salaries to the Constituency Environmental Inspectors (CEI), to be appointed procedurally by the sitting CECs, and sitting allowances to CEC. Each constituency to have one CEI and an Assistant CEI possibly in each location.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

0 Restoring and protecting micro-watersheds and wetlands in Kenya – a policy proposition

Kenya is plagued with numerous environmental problems that will need concerted efforts of all young and old to counter before restoration  becomes too costly or impossible. In this post, I present a policy concept proposition that if adopted and implemented can go a long way in restoring and protecting our wetlands and micro-watersheds. The stakeholders are you and me, the friends of the Kenyan environment, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and the State and all its subjects. 
I propose the formation through an Act of Parliament (thus becomes Law), a Constituency Environment Fund (CEF). Just like the sister Constituency Development Fund (CDF), this fund shall be funded from the Central Treasury, up to 70%, while the balance can be sourced from the international partners. The CEF shall be completely independent of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF), and shall be allocated among the constituencies in Kenya, with sole purpose of being utilized to restore, protect and create awareness to the local communities on the benefits of protecting our environment. At constituency level, the fund shall be administered by the Constituency Environmental Committee (CEC), who’s modes of appointment and the length of their term, can be elaborated in the Act. However, the Members of Parliament and Councilors (Politicians) shall not influence the appointment of the CEC members in their respective areas. The CEF could also be at County level, but at such an expanse level, the impact of the funds allocated may become dim, and may not really address the local environmental priorities. On the following post, I will elaborate on the role of CEF.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

0 Environmental change: Impacts on people

The vulnerability of communities to environmental change is a major setback to sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. One of the impacts of human vulnerability to environmental change is the forced movement of people, creating what has come to be known as environmental refugees. The notion of environmental refugees describes a new insight on an old phenomenon-large numbers of the world's least secure people seeking refuge from insecure biophysical environments. Although the phrase 'environmental refugee' is controversial among advocates of the classical definition of refugees (political and social), it has gained in popular usage. It has  been estimated that, globally, there were 25 million environmental refugees in 2000, more than half of whom were in Africa.

Nduma, commonly grow along the streams
In more recent times and in most areas, though there is no physical movement of people, environmental and climate changes continues to erode families bottom-lines. As is the case of Gakui stream, many farmers relied on its water for domestic purposes, watering animals, and small-scale vegetable farming along the stream. They would fetch some income from sale of vegetables in situ or ex situ local markets. Now that the streams are drying up, these practices are no longer possible. The rural household's incomes are too drying up together with the streams and rivers. They are now kind of ‘economic refugees’ in their own land.

I wonder aloud.......how can you and me help the farmers restore the streams' flow and their income too? Has it happened in your area, county, or country. Tell me you story, post a comment.

Monday, May 30, 2011

0 Environmental degradation - Root causes

The environment is life, supporting people and other living things. Environment is widely recognized as a 'pillar' of sustainable development. It provides essential goods and services which contribute to meeting basic human needs, and is essential to human development and quality of life. It provides services to ecosystems, including water catchments which protect freshwater resources, wetlands, riverbank environments, biodiversity habitats and ecologically functioning landscapes. The environment is also a sink of the wastes generated from different human activities. 
The root causes of environmental change have both natural (mainly climatic variations and climate change) and human-made factors, and include interactions between them. Global processes are having a tremendous influence on environmental change in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and their impact on climate variability and change. These changes have not only regional to national dimensions, but also local implications as well. In Kenya like most of the Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a high dependency on agro-sylvoecological systems, which themselves depend on the state of the environment and local climatical conditions. 
Anthropogenic causes of environmental degradation at local level include deforestation, overgrazing, unplanned land management, firewood harvesting and urbanization, and encroachment of wetlands and rangelands for cultivation among others. With a population growth rate of 4%, Kenya has to come up with strategies to manage its environment and natural resources better to support food production to feed the nation, or slow down the infrastructural development to channel funds to import food. Maybe some drastic measures like 'a two child-policy per family' could help!' The process of environmental degradation is generally considered to be slow, but rapid changes in the state of an ecosystem can occur due to positive feedback loops that amplify initial small stochastic changes in conditions, resulting in runaway reactions in the ecosystem. This appears to be where we are as a nation, and we need to heed to call of wisdom. Albert Schweiter said “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end up destroying the earth" and himself.

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