The roof is on fire, save our forests

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BY EVELYNE NJOROGE

‘The roof is on fire’. That is how one of my friends summed up the environmental challenges facing the country today. Rivers, water falls, and lakes are drying up and don’t get me started on the food and water shortages!

We have since last year faced a drought that has not been experienced in more than two decades; we have not been able to adequately grow food to feed ourselves because our soils are no longer fertile and even the most important resource of all, water, has become a scarce commodity.

But we didn’t get to where we are now overnight. We started by cutting down trees for firewood, then some very ‘entrepreneurial’ Kenyans discovered that they could make a quick shilling from selling charcoal so they went on a tree-cutting spree.

But another breed of Kenyans came along and vowed to become millionaires and billionaires overnight by putting up residential and commercial buildings everywhere! On arable land, on wet lands and shamelessly even on water catchment areas.

And that dear Kenyans is partly how we got ourselves to this deplorable situation.

Remember El Nino, ‘snow’ in Nyahururu, the scary earth tremors we were experiencing the other day? They were all supposed to serve as warning signs but boy did we miss them! Whether it was out of sheer ignorance or lack of awareness, we failed to take action then and we are paying the price for that.

I haven’t seen any of it but people who have visited Lake Nakuru, Thompson Falls, Lake Elementaita, Ndakaini Dam just to mention but a few say these sites are drying up…and fast. The wildebeests in the Mara have this year kept away from crossing the river because it’s dry on the other (Kenyan) side. Our forest cover is diminishing faster than we can say Local Tribunal or Hague.

But sadly, majority of Kenyans especially politicians seem not to notice. I would love to know, when other Kenyans are grappling with water and electricity rationing, do they experience the same in their houses? If they don’t, then this could be the only explanation to the indifference that we have seen from these so called ‘leaders’.

They continue playing politics with the issue of the Mau Complex without regard for anything or anyone. It’s a fact that they couldn’t care less for the 38million of us but what about their children, grandchildren and great grand kids? Do they think about what kind of a country they will leave behind for them?  I wonder.

I remember an email that was circulating a while back that was looking at life in the next four decades. It showed people working for half a glass of clean drinking water (instead of wages and salaries) and suffering from terrible skin diseases.

Is that where Kenyans want to find themselves? 2050, my friends is not far. 40 years is just how long it has taken us to rape our free God-given Mother Nature.

But, while we all have agreed that we have selfish, greedy, moribund and ineffective leaders whom we cannot rely on to even provide us with food for own stomachs, we need to wake up and do something about this environmental degradation.

I have said it and will repeat it again. We have taken turns and continuously defiled this beautiful land called ‘Kenya’ and its time we tried to make amends.

 In a recent blog, my colleague educated us on a few statistics about plastic bags, ‘that they are five trillion of those bags in the world every year and that one such carrier takes 500 years to decompose.’

Those are disturbing and sobering figures! They are supposed to awaken us from slumber.

So dear Kenyans, why don’t you play your part in trying to heal this broken land? Make it your mission to plant a tree seedling, use disposable and recyclable bags, don’t throw away candy wrappings on the streets and don’t spend more time than you need to in the showers just because the water feels good on your skins.

Don’t undermine what impact these ‘little things’ can do for the environment. 

If not for yourself, please do it for your son, daughter, niece, nephew or cousin. They will curse you if the only thing you’ll leave behind as inheritance is a hot, barren and flood or earthquake-ridden land.
 

(Ms Njoroge is Capital FM’s Business Reporter)

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