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.

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 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.


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