Environmental issues in Kenya
Water resources are under pressure from agricultural chemicals and urban and industrial wastes, as well as from use for hydroelectric power. Kenya expects a shortage of water to pose a problem in the coming years. For example the damming of the Omo river by the Gilgel Gibe III dam together with the plan to use 30% to 50% of the water for sugar plantations will create huge environmental problems. It is estimated that up to 50% of the watercapacity of Lake Turkana will be lost. If no sugar plantations would have been planned to be irrigated however, the dam itself might have had a net positive effect to the environment, due to the emissionless power generation of the dam.
Output from forestry also has declined because of resource degradation. Overexploitation over the past three decades has reduced the country’s timber resources by one-half. At present only 2% of the land remains forested, and an estimated 50 square kilometres of forest are lost each year. This loss of forest aggravates erosion, the silting of dams and flooding, and the loss of biodiversity. Among the endangered forests are Kakamega Forest, Mau Forest and Karura Forest. In response to ecological disruption, activists have pressed with some success for policies that encourage sustainable resource use.
The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize went to the Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, best known for organizing a grassroots movement in which thousands of people were mobilized over the years to plant 30 million trees in Kenya and elsewhere and to protest forest clearance for luxury development. Imprisoned as an opponent of Moi, Maathai linked deforestation with the plight of rural women, who are forced to spend untold hours in search of scarce firewood and water.
There are a wide variety of wildlife species in Kenya, whose habitats are threatened by encroachment of man and the poachers that live in rural Kenya. Michael Werikhe aka Rhino Man, pioneered Kenyan wildlife conservation. Werikhe walked thousands of miles and raised millions of dollars to fund White Rhino conservation projects. The Blue Wildebeest is currently abundant, but like other more endangered species feels the pressure of habitat reduction. This wildlife consists of lions, elephants, gazelles, and rhinos.
Widespread poverty in many parts of the country has greatly lead to over-exploitation of the limited resources in Kenya. Cutting down of trees to create more land for cultivation, charcoal burning business, quarrying among other social and occupational practices are the major threats of environmental degradation due to poverty in rural Kenya. Regions like Murang'a, Bondo and Meru are affected by this environmental issue.
There is the risk of seasonal flooding during the winter months, July to late August. In September 2012, thousands of people were displaced in parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley Province as floodwaters submerged houses and schools and destroyed crops. It was especially dangerous as the floods caused latrines to overflow, contaminating numerous water sources. The floods can also cause mudslides and two children were killed in September 2012 following a mudslide in the Baringo District, which also displaced 46 families.
Some of the environmental issues in Kenya include:
- Pollution of the Njoro River
- Deforestation in Kenya
- Elephant hunting in Kenya
- The Kenyan water crisis
- Water supply and sanitation in Kenya
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2008)|
- KENYA: Floods displace thousands, destroy crops, Kenya: IRIN, 2012, retrieved 5 September 2012