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 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.

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