Destruction and encroachment of green spaces is one of the causes of increased desertification in the country. Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said as he put on notice all individuals who have encroached Nairobi City Park in Parklands among other green spaces that the law must take its cause. The CS was speaking during the commemorations of World Desertification and Drought at City Park Nairobi on 17th June 2020.
This year, the day was commemorated through a slogan on “Food. Feed. Fibre.” This slogan largely seeks to educate all of us on how to reduce our personal impact on the environment particularly those associated with food production and consumption patterns. This is mainly because if we keep producing and consuming as normally or as business as usual, we will eat into the planet’s capacity to sustain life until there is nothing left for the future generations and Mother Nature will treat us abnormally.
“Today, already most parts of our country face some conservation challenges often due to human activities in pursuit of food to feed people or to fibre production to support the relevant manufacturing industries. In the course of availing these important human requirements, vast landscapes have faced wanton loss of natural aesthetics as well as agricultural potential and as the situation proceeds, these once fascinating and high potential environments assume new ecological characteristics close to desert conditions and droughts become more severe and frequent,” the CS noted.
The CS was accompanied by his Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Mohammed Elmi and Permanent Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo. The duo expressed their support for the ongoing efforts to conserve the environment especially green spaces in the region.
NEMA Chairman John Konchellah stated that desertification and land degradation remains among the greatest challenges to sustainable development and addressing issues around the spread of desertification and impacts of drought will greatly enhance realization of the Kenya’s development agendas as spelled in Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. Konchellah noted that NEMA has taken a lead role in coordinating and supervising all matters environment and implementation of all policies on environment in Kenya. To realize this, the Authority’s Strategic Plan 2019 – 2024 has set clear milestones to be realized. Further in-line with the EMCA, 1999, the Authority publishes the Kenya State of Environment Report with the latest being the State of Environment Report 2016 -2018 aligned to Kenya Environmental Performance Index (KEPI) 2018.
These sentiments were echoed by the Acting NEMA Director General, Mamo B. Mamo who put on notice individuals disposing waste into green spaces in the country. This, according to the Mr. is one of the reasons that has led to destruction of various protected areas as well as riparian reserves. “Kenya like many other nations in the world is threatened by desertification, land degradation and drought. In areas like North Eastern, the deserts have once eaten the once potential landscapes turning it into inhabitable landscape that cannot support humans, livestock and even wildlife,” Mr. Mamo said.
Nairobi City Park was initially a 90-acres piece of land donated by the Gikuyu Community to the Government. Due to uncontrolled development and illegal encroachment, the land has been hived illegally by developers and now only remains 63 acres. The park also hosts critical monuments of Kenyans history such as the war veterans - Vice President Joseph Murumbi and his wife Sheila and Pio Gama Pinto among others.
World Desertification and Drought Day is observed annually every 17th June to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to Combat Desertification, land degradation and reduce effects of drought. Kenya signed the United Nations Convection to Combat Desertification in 1994 and ratified in 1997. In-line with the requirements for domesticating the convention, Kenya has observed this day since 1995 at various parts of the Country mainly at the Arid and Semi-Arid counties.