Tuesday, June 17, 2014
We must raise our voices to encourage environmental action, Ambassador urges. Young Kenyan environmentalist Ambassador Abdikadir Aden, HSC has urged the Kenyan people to and especially the young people to stand up and raise their voices towards ensuring environmental sustainability. Speaking at World Environment Day celebrations held at Iftin Primary School in Garissa, Kenya, the Ambassador has appreciate the fact that young people have realized the need for great action and participation in decision making for the sake of our environment. Every year, on June 5th, millions of people across the planet to celebrate World Environment Day coming together at community, national and regional level to promote positive action on the most-pressing environmental challenges of our day. This year’s theme was “Raise your voice, not the sea level”; which aimed to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on small islands states around the world. The WED celebrations was a resultant effort of the United Nation General Assembly in the year 1972, which took place in Stockholm Conference on the issue of Human Environment. It aims at making people aware of the worldwide environmental degradation and drag the attention and action of various political sources and human resources. In Garissa County, the event was geared towards protecting and conserving water catchments and wetlands. This has been successfully done through Garissa Youth Environment Movement in partnership with Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources through Northern Water Services Board (NWSB) and Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA). This year’s World Environment Day was part of national wide sensitization campaign on water bodies. The high level celebrations which were attended by high dignitaries from different institutions from schools, civil society organizations, government institutions and upcoming environmentalists. Students from different schools passed their messages in different styles. From poems to drama, the crowd had something to laugh at but again something to learn about. The event was also a platform form recognizing best environmental practices which contributed to the success of biodiversity conservation in the area. “On this day, special regards go to the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP for information sharing and advance dissemination and for introducing high technologies for addressing global environmental issues that has enabled us to be part of this great day” says Abdikadir after passing the message of the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner to the audience since the global event was held at Barbados. The WED went colourful with series of activities taking place at the host school. This included sensitization and awareness creation, documentary and radio talks, tree planting, entertainment, including recitations, songs and dance from institutions and individuals on conservation, exhibition of promotional materials and products by various institutions that promote green practices, presentation of Awards and Prizes to participating groups and best environmental initiatives, distribution of advocacy materials for environmental conservation and public speeches from sponsors, conservationists, and other invited dignitaries.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Wetlands are areas of land that are permanently, seasonally or occasionally water logged with fresh, saline, brackish, or marine waters, including both natural and man-made areas that support characteristic biota. Globally, wetlands occupy about 6% of the earth's surface. Kenya's wetlands occupy about 3% to 4%, which is approximately 14,000 kilometers square of land surface and fluctuates up to 6% in the rainy seasons. Wetlands have several functions and uses which range from ecological, economic, recreational and cultural. They include; ECOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS a. Maintenance of the water table The impeded drainage of a wetland allows water to stay in one place long enough to maximize infiltration. This helps in the recharge and discharge of both ground and water resources. A high water table means that in the immediate surroundings of the wetland there is access to water supplies for plants. b. Erosion control and flood control. In their natural condition, wetlands function as a barrier to erosion. The regions downstream of the wetlands would receive full erosive force of storm events, resulting in soil and stream bank degradation. Flood damages in the United States average to $ 2 billion each year causing significant loss of life and property. Wetlands therefore play a role in reducing the frequency and intensity of floods by acting as natural buffers, soaking up and storing significant amount of floodwater. A wetland can typically store about three-acre feet of water, or one million gallons. c. Sediment trap (Acts as a sieve) Material eroded from the surrounding catchment areas by rivers is sedimented out when the flow of water is slowed upon entering a wetland. Sediment retention prevents downstream resources such as dams, farmlands, rivers and lakes from being silted up. Natural wetlands are so effective at removing pollutants from water that flows through them as the plants and soils absorb much of the excess nutrients in the water hence improving water quality. d. Wetlands as carbon sinks/ storage. Wetlands are one of the most effective ecosystems for carbon storage a critical aspect to climate change and global warming mitigation. e. Wildlife Habitat and centers of biological diversity Diverse species of mammals, plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and fish rely on wetlands for food, habitat or shelter. Endangered species use or inhabit wetlands at some time in their life. Some species must have a wetland to reproduce. Migrating waterfowl rely on wetlands for resting, eating and breeding areas, leading to increased populations. The appeal of wetlands and diversity of plant and animal life contribute to or support many businesses. SOCIO- ECONOMIC FUNCTIONS a. Tourism and recreation Wetlands are often inviting places for recreational activities including hiking, fishing, bird watching, photography and hunting. These activities also contribute towards the country’s foreign exchange. According to studies done, Lake Nakuru for instance gets approximately 300,000 visitors per year bringing US$ 24 million and the estimated value of flamingos in Lake Natron as a flamingo breeding site based on the recreation value of one flamingo per year is US$ 11,819,091. An average price tag of US$33 trillion a year has been established by researchers on these fundamental ecosystem services globally. That is nearly twice the gross national product (GNP) of US$ 18 trillion. b. Plant products Papyrus and similar plants have been traditionally harvested for necessities such as thatching, mats, baskets while the palms and smaller sized trees are used as structural building materials. For instance communities living around Rivers Nzoia, Yala, Nyando and Sio use papyrus plants materials to make traditional fishing gear. Traditional conical basket traps “esivu” and “Omukono” among the:Luhyia and “Sienya” among the Luo. c. Water supply Wetland plants have the capacity to take out impurities from the water thus filtering it. Because of this function, it has been possible for rural communities to obtain a pure water supply at no cost. d. Cattle grazing The marginal parts of wetlands, where the soil is permanently or seasonally moist, have for long been used as grazing areas for livestock especially during the dry season. Grazing and watering of livestock is an important traditional common practice for many communities in Kenya for example the Maasai, Tugens, Turkana, Oromo and Njemps. Traditional livestock rearing is a cultural activity and wetlands are its life support. d. Fishing Wetlands harbor a substantial population of fish, which have traditionally been caught as an important food item in many parts of Kenya. 3. SOCIO-CULTURAL FUNCTIONS a. Ceremonial sites Most communities in Kenya have used wetlands as site for carrying out traditional rites for example circumcision ceremonies among the Bukusu people of Western Kenya use special wetlands sites in River Nzoia basin for these ceremonies. The Kipsigis community of Bomet also carry out circumcision ceremonies on sites at River Sise and the Pokomo of Tana River District. b. Sacred sites Several wetlands in Kenya are considered as sacred sites where communities make sacrifices for ancestral spirits and spiritual consultations. For example part of Yala Swamp has sites that have traditionally been used for spiritual purposes. c.Sources of traditional food Wetlands provide traditional vegetables to many riverine communities for example Luhya women collected “enderema” and “lubiliabilia” from the wetlands. The Pokomo used Nyamthaceae species of leaves as vegetables while its potatoes like tuber “Makole” is a source of carbohydrate. Typha domigensis locally known as “Enarau” is a root chewed by the Maasai during the dry periods. 4. THREATS AND CHALLENGES TO WETLANDS IN KENYA Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems due to their functions and attributes. They are essential to the well-being of Kenyans as they contribute significant economic and social benefits to the country. Despite their high productivity and provision of many benefits, wetland ecosystems in Kenya are still facing serious threats including; a. Unsustainable use of wetland resources through; overgrazing, over cultivation, over abstraction of water for domestic use, agriculture and industrialization as well as illegal and improper fishing practices. b. Eutrophication which may be caused through pollution by domestic sewage, industrial effluent which choke water ways and agro-chemicals that increase nutrient levels thus causing algae blooms and fish kills. c. Establishment of new human and livestock settlements in wetland areas. d. Cutting and burning of aquatic and other vegetation for fuel, housing and commercial activities. e. Unplanned development activities including dam construction, coastal development, mining and quarrying. f. Introduction, illegally or otherwise, of non-traditional or alien species into wetlands such as water hyacinth, Nile perch, Red cray fish. g. Hunting and killing of wildlife within wetlands, which in turn undermines the integrity of these fragile ecosystems as food chains are destructed. h. Degradation of water catchment areas such as the Mau Complex, Mount Kenya, Cherengani hills, Aberdares ranges and Mount Elgon where many rivers and streams rise from that flow into the major types of wetlands in our country. The destruction of these catchment areas results into siltation and increased suspended solids and reduced water levels in rivers and lakes downstream. i. Lack of an operational National Wetlands Policy and cross-cutting sectoral policies in Kenya, where by government Ministries do not liaise in developing management plans on water use (Water and Irrigation, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Planning and Development, Environment and Natural Resources). j. Lack of management plans has exuberated wetland destruction and degradation e.g.. Lake Naivasha k. Limited funds, where by Wetland management institutions lack adequate and continuous funds and personnel for monitoring, management, research and community awareness l. Lack of community participation in management of the various wetland resources in the country. While wetlands have the potential of contributing significantly to the socio-economic development of Kenya, they face diverse and severe threats. These threats include among others inappropriate human activities within the catchments and in the wetlands, lack of coordinated and holistic policy guidelines, and climate change. The threats have induced changes that have eroded the ecological and socio-economic values and services derived from wetlands. The underlying threat remains lack of recognition of the importance of these wetlands. i. Reclamation and Conversion of wetlands: Drainage and reclamation of wetlands for agricultural development, human settlement and industrial development is one of the biggest threats to wetland conservation and management. In the past, wetlands have been regarded as “wastelands”, which harbour disease vectors. This has led to large-scale drainage and conversion for alternative uses without regard to ecological and socio-economic values. ii. Over- exploitation of wetland goods and services: Increasing human populations and change from subsistence to commercial exploitation of wetland resources continue to exert increasing pressures on limited wetland resources, resulting in a decline of services and quality as well as quantity of products derived from wetlands. iii. Pollution, Eutrophication and Salinization of wetlands: The quality of many water sources in Kenya is declining as a result of municipal, agricultural and industrial wastes/ discharges. These have negatively impacted water quality and biodiversity within the wetland ecosystems thereby reducing their values. Increased nutrient loads have led to eutrophication and episodes of algal blooms in wetlands near major settlements. In certain areas excessive abstraction of fresh waters, diversions, and catchment degradation, have led to increased salinity. iv. Alien Invasive Species: Wetlands are highly vulnerable to alien and potentially invasive species. Many wetlands have in the past been affected by the introduction of alien invasive species that have altered the biodiversity characteristics and diminished the services provided by wetlands. For example, the introduction of Nile perch nearly eliminated the indigenous fish species of Lake Victoria while water hyacinth, Salvinia sp, and Typha sp. have affected numerous.
at May 11, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
at May 01, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS 2014.
Monday, March 3, 2014
In the recent days, there has been a lot of sad news of elephants and rhinos being poached for their ivories just because someone somewhere has put value on their heads. Demand is really especially in Asia and this is very alarming. We have to stand up and say NO to such disasters. As the world marks a special day for the protection, conservation and advocating for wildlife, it is the responsibility of each and every global citizen to ensure that at all time we have to defend our wildlife at all cost.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Garissa is a town that has been associated with haphazard waste throwing for quite sometime
If someone has ever witnessed an animal being slaughtered with plastics in their stomachs, there is a lot to be discovered. Garissa municipality main slaughter house has series of drama to this environmental pollutant.
In the parliament, the politicians have been putting efforts on one kilometer, one vote but in this case, it is different. One metre, one plastic product.
Plastics are used for a various reasons although plastics are certainly globally important product, there are many environmental concerns with its usage. Plastics are non-biodegradable. One of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags take up to 1000 years.
One of the positive characteristics of plastics is that it is durable. Unfortunately, this is not a positive characteristic when it comes to the environment. The fact that plastics are durable means it degrades slowly. In addition, burning plastics can result in toxic fumes and lead to respiratory diseases. Apart from trying to get rid of plastics creating it can be costly to the environment as well.
Many plastics remain floating on the surface of our water ways, the place where many food sources life making them attractive to our livestock. Many livestock are killed each day out to plastics. Many of them ingest plastic bags mistaking them for food and therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bags remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus it lies in landscape where another victim may ingest.
Every once in a while, the government here passes out an order banning shop keepers from providing bags to customers for carrying their purchases with little lasting effects. Plastic bags are popular with retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap, strong, light weight, functional, as well as other good.
Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without them, they are responsible for causing pollution killing animals and using the precious resources on earth.
Plastic bags litter the landscape. Once they are used, most plastics go into landfill or rubbish tips. Each year, more and more plastics are sending up littering the environment. Once they become litter, plastics find their ways into water ways, drainage canal.
Single use of plastic bags have become such an ubiquitous way of life that is seems as if simple we can start reducing their use in small ways.
Recycling the plastics use already is another good idea. These came into use of various solid waste management techniques like holding garbage at homestead level while the government may be working out ways to lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment.
Drainage has become poor as a result of plastics blocking water culverts. Due to low topography, there are a lot of water drainage canals both natural and man-made. Heavy floods clean the town but majority of the waste that is washed away, are plastic bags and other garbage. This has opened up breeding zone for mosquitoes especially this month of April whereby the level of rainfall was quite high. Mosquitoes feel quite warmth in plastic bags than even bushes.
The Garissa Municipality in collaboration with Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) have distributed dustbins within the central business district to each shop and all business premises having one. Since then, the level of haphazardly scattering of waste has reduced. Unfortunately, these dustbins are too small and are not everywhere within the municipality. The Municipal council also has to come with systematic collections of these plastic wastes so as to ensure the level reduces. Though there are no plastic recycling centers in town, fighting them has become a problem. Another thing is that there is no monitory value in them after use. It could create job opportunities especially to our unemployed youths. The plastics recycling companies do buy them at a very low prices in a way that any entrepreneur or individual who could gain interest in them, gets discouraged. However, each one of us should shoulder some of the responsibility from this problem which ultimately harm us.
According to Abdikadir Sheikh Abdisalan, an environmental officer working with the National Environment Management Authority based in Wajir, states that in a place called Eldas, they have established a plastic free society initiative. Plastics have caused deaths of large number of livestock especially shoats. The use of plastics has increased in the region. Due to change in lifestyle and consumption habits, most of the packet of choice is flimsy paper bags and they are one time use. Consequently, there is no waste collection due to the services not going beyond the town locality. After realizing the loss of animals, the community sat down and the Locational Environment Committees (LEC) and came up with a resolution in the area. All shopkeepers were asked not to bring plastics bags to the remote areas. They were also given time to clear the initial stock with minimum time possible. Any business premise that did not follow the agreed terms, is fined a fee of Kenya shillings two thousand only collected by the village elders and the local people. They have established a Local Environment Management Committee who ensure that the decision of the LEC is implemented.
Officials from the Ministry of Public Health are working tirelessly together with other relevant stakeholders in towards cleanliness and one of the factors that have been a success in the banning of nylons from shops. The level of awareness is low with a back up from ignorance. Unless attitude is changed, the impact will still be on. The use of these products they do not comply with clean environmental principles which entails safe dumping after use by throwing it anywhere and anyhow. These people they need a series of attitude change and comprehensive awareness creation that will instill discipline among users of plastic products who are mainly targetted as women, youth and pastoralists who come from very far to do shopping in town.
While there are many questions left unanswered when it comes to the environment and plastics, it is clear plastic is here to stay for a very long time.
Attitude is everything. Change your attitude, and you change your life and the environment
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Garissa town is one of the fastest growing towns here in Kenya and East Africa. Increase in population equally means doubling of waste gener...
If someone has ever witnessed an animal being slaughtered with plastics in their stomachs, there is a lot to be discovered. Garissa municipa...
Behind the Wheels Season 1 Episode 2 continues to Libahlow village in Balambala Sub-County. This time my focus is on minerals around this ar...
For my 10 years in Conservation, while delivering services to the People of Garissa County, traveling from terrain to train, getting stuck i...