Third Eye

We must do more to protect environment

Friday, October 18th, 2019 04:46 |

That Kenya is a piece of beautiful real estate is not in doubt. Hovering above the ground during this season of rain, it’s simply amazing the rolling territory covered in green. 

It is not only the traditionally green areas dubbed the breadbasket of the country that is striking, but now even the barren semi-arid parts of the country are a marvel of lush greenery.

This green is, however, constantly interrupted by the shining zinc roofs spreading as far as one’s eye can go. 

There is no order to their appearance. What is obvious is the break that they provide to the rolling green on the ground.

We are creating one huge slum in the countryside.  Kibra has been for long considered to be Africa’s largest slum.

 The characteristics of the slum have been obvious. There is no running water, no toilets, no clear organisation of houses. It simply speaks of a planning department at City Hall that went to sleep eons ago.

Our countryside is no different. Land is being sub-divided into increasingly small holdings that are economically unviable. Where previously a farmer had five acres to farm and graze livestock, the greenery is increasingly being replaced by concrete structures.

This is happening particularly in arable land that should be used to grow food to feed our ballooning population. The results from the census held earlier this year are yet to be released, but if history is any guide, the numbers are going to be staggering and speculation is already putting the figure at over 50 million people. The population must be fed and will need water to drink. 

When the land is constantly being sub-divided, the danger of inability to feed our population in the future looms and this is where proper planning to stave off such an eventuality is important.

The zinc roofs visible from the skies are not the only danger that the country faces with respect to pressure on the land. The other is the doting graves that litter the countryside.

Death in Kenya involves a lot of expenses, one of which is the construction of the grave. The grave for the rich is a concrete edifice cemented six feet under the earth with an elaborate construction above the ground. Once the funeral is over, what remains is mere concrete spot on the ground that can not be utilised. If this was an isolated case, it may be excusable but still it would be a rectangular space of concrete on the ground that is simply going to waste while the population is growing. 

The misfortune, however, is that this is a scene repeated over and over with every death. 

But another emerging trend is the construction of concrete walls. They create the illusion of guaranteed security. However, consider the benefits of a fence made of plants with its potential of providing fresh air. 

Yet, wealthy Kenyans endowed with wisdom are probably the greatest environment offenders. Left to their own devices Kenyans are simply amazing at their incredulity and particularly to the environment and to the future of our society.

This is where government must come in to halt this onslaught on environment and to guarantee the nation’s future that it will still support the population. Regulations should be put in place that make it prohibitive to engage in some of these practices or simply put a stop to them.

At some point we must also put a halt to the continued subdivision of land, construction of edifices of concrete in the countryside, and ensure activities that promote environmental conservation are adhered to. 

Some of these can not be left to the luxury of democratic will but need to be enforced through collective wisdom.

— The writer is Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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