Declare environmental degradation a national disaster

Today marks 31 years since the death of Kenya’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Since his death Kenya has undergone various changes from politics, to the economy and environment. Today I would like to dwell on the changes that have taken place since the founding father passed on.

Starting on the current hot issue of the environment, Kenya has lost much of its forest cover in the last three decades a fact which cannot be overemphasised. It is a terrifying fact that the country’s forest cover is a mere 1.7 percent of the land mass or 1.7 million hectares down from an over 10 percent cover at independence.

It is also a fact that rivers are no longer flowing and lakes have dried up. Our taps are running dry owing to scarce water resources. Rains have reduced leading to low food production and we are now at the centre of a food crisis. Human activities on the country’s water towers are to blame for all these environmental changes.

If Kenyans had taken one Professor Wangari Maathai seriously for the last 32 years, we would not be complaining today that we have lost our heritage. We thought the Nobel Prize winner was a mad woman when she urged us to plant trees but today we are crying over split milk. For a tree to grow to the level of translating to a forest cover it will take decades to mature.

We need action and urgent one. The government should stop lip service and act fast and remove people who are living in forests, the Mau forest being the starting point. It is a risky political decision which must be taken. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga must join hands and take up the mantle of environment politics and show the way by planting trees.

Imagine where we would be if we had supported the great work of the great woman Wangari Maathai who since 19977 has planted over 20 million trees. Kenya would have been one great example to the world which is now in a rush to beat Global Warming and its effects.

All is not lost if the leaders preach environment peace and invest, initiate and lead a campaign of environmental conservation. Kibaki should declare environmental degradation a national disaster and move fast to begin reforestation.

Mr Kenyatta was part of the group of devoted Kenyans who gave up their lives to deliver independence. We owe it to them for their dedication and sacrifice.

That is the kind of leadership we expect from now henceforth. If President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila initiate this campaign it would be a legacy for which generations to come would forever be grateful.

In the next three decade, in a day similar to this, I hope we would be writing a different scenario where Kenya’s forests cover is three fold that what we have today.

I will probably pick it from there and discuss political and economical changes another time.

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