Kenya is endowed with enormous natural resources which are vital for supporting the country’s economy. In addition they provide important ecological goods and services. The tourism, for instance, which is one of the major foreign currency earner has its backbone on the diverse wildlife and biodiversity resources, rich cultural heritage and the scenic coastal landscape. On the other hand, the Water towers provide recharge to rivers, which provides water for domestic agriculture, wildlife and maintenance to the hydrological cycle, which regulates atmospheric temperature and moderates climatic conditions. From the foregoing it is imperative that our economic growth is dependent on the integrity of the Environment.
In pursuit of development the environment has become more vulnerable to both natural and human induced changes. Water systems are under threat from pollution and human related activities, forests face serious degradation as a result of expansion of settlements and agriculture.
It is important to constantly keep watch of such changes, set in motion interventions and address such impacts on the environment. Environmental Action planning is intended to provide guidance on solutions to some of these impacts through a systematic planning process.
Kenya prepared the first National Environment Action Plan in 1994 in pursuit of fulillment of Agenda 21 of the Rio summit of 1992. he process has been domesticated through a legal provision in the Environment Management and Coordination Act 1999 and now EMCA Cap 387. The legal framework provides for both the National and County governments to prepare Environmental Action Plans as part of mainstreaming of environmental concerns into the development planning process. In order to guide the process, there is an overarching need to standardize tools for sustainable environmental management. It is in this respect, that the development of these guidelines has been undertaken so as to provide a basis for monitoring the State of Environment (SOE) through environmental indicators that are embedded in the guidelines. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 has elevated environmental integrity into a human right; and has made deliberate and strategic effort to address environmental impacts, considering the environment a constitutional obligation of every individual as well providing a framework for environmental interventions at National and County levels.
These guidelines were prepared through a participatory process and it is expected that the same process will be used in preparation of the County and National Environment Action Plans.
The guidelines will facilitate development of action plans which link social, economic and environmental issues aimed at reducing poverty, enhancing equity and generating wealth for the present and future-generations. The expected outcome of sustainable development initiatives are national initiatives aimed at addressing issues of sustainable resource management and use; conducting research to build an information base and promoting information-sharing; and administering programmes that promote partnerships with all stakeholders for natural resource management and conservation.
I am therefore delighted to recommend these guidelines for use during the preparation of the County Environmental Action Plans and the National Environment Action Plan. I would like to urge all institutions in charge of environmental planning and the County Environment Committees to prepare Environmental Acton Plans to bring to light strategic environment interventions to stem the negative environmental impacts arising from environmental and Natural resource exploitation.
Prof. Judi. W. Wakhungu, EGH
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources