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ELECTION 2022

Kenya needs to develop infrastructure prudently

COMMENTARY
By Isaac Kalua | Nov 15th 2015 | 2 min read

NAIROBI: The earth doesn’t just belong to human beings. Apart from seven billion people in the human species, there are at least 1.6 million other species that call this earth home. Each of these species has thousands, millions or even billions of species members. Accordingly, if all species inhabiting the earth were to elect their leader, humans would be outnumbered! That would be the ultimate tyranny of numbers.
In Africa, we share our countries with the wildlife. We must learn to live with them because if we push them to endangered and extinct territories, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot.
Indeed, as we consider development, ecological infrastructure must exist in our minds. Any nation that eyes industrialisation must put in place the infrastructure that will deliver it into industrialised status. We must however shun the assumption that such large scale infrastructure can only come at a costly conservation price.
A case in point is the Nairobi Southern bypass that will cut through Nairobi National Park. Conservationists grudgingly accepted this necessary evil. KWS entered into a grant of easement agreement that protects the sanctity and ownership of the conserved land through which the road will pass.
Now that this seems a done deal, focus must shift to how the resulting endowment fund for wildlife conservation will be utilised. This brings to fore the age-old question of what exactly wildlife conservation entails. At its apex, wildlife conservation is about setting apart protected land through national parks and reserves for wildlife to roam freely in their natural habitat. But now that this protected land is the one having to accommodate humans, how can the animals be compensated in a manner that will ensure their survival and flourish?
An answer to this question lies in what happened to Shimba Hills years ago. A project was put in place to plant trees en masse and after several years, this new tree-rich area became a natural habitat for wildlife and even more plant species.
Following this example, we should put in place a very ambitious mid and long term plan for Nairobi National Park to reclaim what it is losing not just through infrastructure development, but also an expanding capital city.

Such a plan could include planting indigenous trees in large swathes of areas adjacent to the park. That is an investment whose ecological, economic and even aesthetic benefits could pay invaluable dividends for posterity.
Remember, if I share a piece of my home with you so that you can develop, the least you can do is to leave my home more durable than you found it. This is the voice of our wildlife. Let us heed it. Think green, act green!

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