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Kenya’s Devolved Government Should Address Environmental Conservation

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Kenya’s devolution is failing to address environmental conservation. Areas like Turkana and Mandera experience severe droughts, yet county governments remain unfazed.

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Natural resource management comprises the environment, energy, forestry, agriculture, and aquatic.

Kenya is recognized as one of the richest countries in Africa in terms of natural resources. The Kenyan economy relies heavily on natural resources to contribute to national income; this is highly threatened by environmental degradation. The country is also consumed with high rates of poverty and low income.

Climate situation in areas of Turkana County/COURTESY

The Kenyan government development strategies cited in vision 2030 aim at enacting policies that can help secure environmental resources; this includes good environmental planning and governance, projects implemented in the environment, pollution and waste management, etc.

However, citizens still misuse natural resources at the county level, perhaps due to natural resource management being perceived as a national affair.

Efforts to accommodate community participation are hardly fruitful; we still struggle as a country to maximize our use of natural resources for the betterment of our own selves.

I&M Foundation Environmental Conservation in Kilifi County/COURTESY

As much as Kenya is recognized globally for its rich biodiversity, factors such as climate variability, wildlife crime, and urban expansion, mostly due to rapid population growth, have played a key role in disadvantaging policies formulated to govern natural resource management.

Policies such as local communities’ involvement in biodiversity conservation and management are hammered slowly due to severe unemployment rates in Kenya. Unemployment easily leads the youth to natural resource misuse.

Now that we have a devolved government, the effect of devolution on natural resource management should depend largely on climate leadership to be fastened by leaders who appreciate climate healing, are not corrupt, and involve community members at the grassroots level and local organizations to foster ecological conservation.

Devolution should be about promoting environmental justice to reduce the exploitation of natural resources locally.  

County governments should start with comprehensive civic education in local areas, teaching residents the importance of environmental conservation and why they should all be part of the climate healing process. 

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