OIGARA: Let’s safeguard our environment today for a better tomorrow


forest fire
Aftermath of a forest fire. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Environmental sanity now is a matter of global concern, particularly at a critical point when the world is grappling with the vagaries of climate change.

East Africa economies are highly dependent on their natural resources base—more than 50 percent of the region’s GDP comes from agriculture, mining, forestry, and fishing.

Over the past year alone, severe water shortages brought upon by climate change in many parts of the region were just as unfortunately, counterbalanced with rampant flooding elsewhere.

Meanwhile, domestic and industrial pollution, ongoing deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, and poaching have further depleted our resources. As a result, livelihoods of more people today than ever before are more likely to be threatened due to some unforeseen event resource depletion.

Every year, the UN Environment designates a day to refocus the attention of the world over on the pressing concerns that continue to pose grave danger to humanity and its sustainability.

This year, world leaders converged on New Delhi, India on June 5 to mark the 2018 World Environment Day. As is the custom of every celebration, the day was earmarked with a universal theme and this year is no different.

Motivated by the urge to rally national governments, industries, communities and individuals to explore other sustainable alternatives, the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution” is a call to action to reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic pollution.

Kenya is no exception to the global discourses around sustainable environmental conservation and the green economy.

The government, through the Ministry of Environment took the much needed step towards a cleaner environment in August 28 last year when it imposed a ban on the production, importation, distribution and usage of single-use carrier bags which are used in most industrial sectors for packaging of finished commodities and carrying consumables from retail outlets.

The ban took effect as from September 2017, when consumers and manufacturers were faced with the harsh realities of absence of the plastic bags from the market and forced to look for eco-friendly alternatives such as sisal bags, clothing bags and canvas bags.

For the general population, this came as a sigh of relief from the congestion and drainage blockages caused by the litter build-ups that had equally discolored the beautiful natural environs in major towns and cities.

Almost a year later, it would appear a lot still needs to be done to ensure full compliance with this law.

The collection, management and disposal of waste continues to feature prominently as a challenge in our towns and cities. Social enterprises are leading the way in this front, concentrating and tackling waste management (plastic pollution), chronic youth unemployment, deforestation and climate change.

Truly, this is commitment the national government and the devolved units are called to advocate and champion.

Public and private sector players, as well as individuals have to jointly address the issue of climate change.

Joshua Oigara, KCB Group CEO and MD.

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