Why a green and clean Kenya is the best gift for our future generations

When I told my friends that the most important issue for Kenya’s future was the environment, I was ridiculed and laughed at. They told me that “environmentalism was for hippies”. 

However, with cyclones battering southern Africa, cholera destroying water sources and lives across the continent, deforestation causing flooding from Indonesia to the United States, and pollution choking hundreds of millions across Asia; all of a sudden, environmentalism in Kenya is no longer a laughing matter.

With every drought, fire and flood, we must ask ourselves; what can we do to stop this? President Uhuru Kenyatta has chosen to act on many things. He has taken the lead in fighting corruption; he has shown true leadership by uniting political leaders who had been divided by what had been seen as almost insoluble ethnic, tribal and political fissures; he has fought terror with vigour and commitment, working with our international allies to get results which save lives.

Of course, he is not perfect, far from it, but he has shown over again that he is willing to take on the big issues. And nothing perhaps could be larger than tackling the threat to the environment; because it is global in nature.

By committing to achieving a minimum of 10 per cent forest cover by 2022, Uhuru has placed Kenya at the forefront of a global movement for change. He recognises that, whilst this is a marathon, the forests are our great respiratory engines, the great protectors of our atmosphere and ecosystems.

Other leaders

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The One Planet Summit held in Nairobi last month once again put Kenya on the map as a world leader. We used to be a country known more for worse. Yet, today we lead the continent. Our Country is a pan-African figure of inspiration, and a global voice in numerous fields; from counter-terrorism to environmentalism.

And we should all be proud of ourselves. Indeed, the One Planet Summit followed the two previous global summits held on the matter in Paris and New York. By taking the lead on this matter, the President and other leaders not only contribute to the fight against global warming, minimizing the danger of a host of disasters such as droughts, fires and floods, but he places Kenya on an international pedestal. This is good for business, good for tourism, and good for Kenya.

During and following the ground-breaking One Planet Summit, huge financial commitments were announced to encourage and progress further environmental conservation and implement ways to tackle climate change.

Incredibly, the World Bank pledged $12 billion, and the African Development Bank offered a further $25 billion to sponsor environmental projects all across our continent during the next five years; this includes supporting the reforestation of nearly 60 million hectares of forest land in Kenya. This is not lip-service, or some elite Davos-like conference. This is real. This is tangible. These are results.

Rural phenomenon

Kenya is also leading the way in smart agriculture, working with partners from around the world, including  countries like the US, Japan and Israel, to bring the most sophisticated techniques in water conservation, irrigation and recycling to bring sustainable and profitable agriculture to the blessed fertile lands of Kenya.

In our part of the world we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. When disaster strikes, when drought hits, it is always the poor who suffer the most. We must be ten steps ahead of the game.

Environmentalism, however, is not merely a rural phenomenon. Our urbanite brothers and sisters too have a unique responsibility. From water hygiene to recycling, a clean Kenya is a healthy Kenya, and a healthy Kenya is a thriving Kenya!

On this matter, the President has promoted his Kenya Cleaner Production Strategy 2000 which focuses on the “5 R’s” philosophy of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Reformulate, and Re-manufacture.  Kenya has a growing and renowned manufacturing sector, and it is crucial that we work together to cut emissions into the environment to breathable levels.  It is our children who must breathe this air; we have a duty to act responsibly.

The ban on single-use plastic carrier bags is another step in the right direction.  Plastic bags clog sewage and storm drains, increasing the chances of disease and uncleanliness.

Do you like the smell of sewage in the streets? Do you have a friend or family member who has suffered or even died from Cholera? 

This is what we are fighting against. Plastic bags take over a 1,000 years to decay; but overnight they can be banned, and our resolve on this matter has again been commended worldwide.

Through such leadership we can live in green and clean Kenya – and a better world – for future generations to enjoy.

Ms Wayua comments on topical issues

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