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We should all strive for a cleaner and greener country

 Uncollected garbage outside City market, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya faces an escalating environmental crisis that transcends regional borders.

A recent online advocacy campaign initiative by an environmental activist in Kisii town urging for a cleaner and greener county, though localised, mirrors a nationwide plight - a struggle against mounting garbage and water pollution that imperils the lives and well-being of citizens.

The widespread eyesore of litter, compounded by ineffective waste management systems, not only blights urban centres but also inflicts insidious harm on air, water, and soil quality. The repercussions are felt far beyond Kisii, resonating across the nation, and demanding urgent and concerted action.

In the pursuit of a cleaner, greener future, Kenya’s environmental policies have laid commendable foundations. The Constitution under Article 42 enshrines the right to a clean and healthy environment. Moreover, the National Climate Change Action Plan, Kenya Vision 2030, and the Climate Change Act of 2016 reflect Kenya’s commitment to sustainability, outlining ambitious goals to combat climate change and promote environmental stewardship.

However, the chasm between policy intent and execution persists, thwarting progress. Implementation challenges plague the effective translation of these policies into transformative action at the grassroots level. This reality amplifies the urgency of embracing the key takeaways from the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) discussions. Another critical step for Kenya should also be the intentional and full implementation of the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, 2023 (National Assembly Bill No. 42 of 2023) that was passed by the Senate in August this year.

So far, COP 28 has spotlighted the critical need for practical, collaborative strategies to combat climate change. Kenya’s active participation in global dialogues is commendable, but true success hinges on bridging the gap between policy formulation and on-ground implementation. The current environmental crisis across various counties necessitates a holistic approach, transcending regional boundaries.

The demands put forth by climate and environmental activists across the country such as just transition and equity, nature-based solutions and biodiversity conservation, climate finance and support for adaptation, community sensitisation, and capacity building, are all call for actions on both the county and national government level for better environmental practices. They echo the needs of numerous communities nationwide.

In Kisii County, for example, there’s a need for a comprehensive waste management framework, proper landfill administration and robust sensitisation initiatives aligned with the aspirations of a cleaner environment for all Kenyans.

Kenya’s success lies not only in its policy framework but also in its potential for innovation and collaboration. Embracing technology for efficient waste management, fostering partnerships between public and private sectors, and empowering local communities through education are pivotal steps toward tangible change.

-Ms Bosibori is a Change Leader at Nguvu Collective, an Environmental Conservation Advocacy Champion

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