A lobby from the petroleum industry in the United States is reportedly urging Washington to influence Kenya to water down its legislation against plastic waste in an effort to ensure that the East African country continues to import large quantities of plastic garbage from the US. The two countries are currently negotiating the terms of a bilateral commerce agreement aimed at boosting trade between them.
Documents reviewed by the New York Times contain a request from the American Chemistry Council – whose members include major oil companies – to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, demanding that Kenya reverses its strict limits on plastics.
American exporters shipped more than 1 billion pounds of plastic waste to 96 countries, including Kenya in 2019, ostensibly to be recycled, according to trade statistics. But much of the waste, often containing the hardest-to-recycle plastics, instead ends up in rivers and oceans, according to the New York Times report.
In 2017 Kenya outlawed the production, sale, and use of plastic bags with a maximum penalty of $40,000 or four years imprisonment. Before the ban, some 100 million plastic bags were handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone.
The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) Executive Director, Nancy Ogonje, says that if Kenya is pressured to reverse course on plastic waste, the country’s efforts to combat plastic pollution for the benefit of its people and the environment will be greatly undermined. Kenya could also become a transit point for plastic waste from the West destined for dumping in other African countries.
“Less than 4 percent of plastic waste is recycled in Africa, and, unlike paper, glass, and metal, most plastic waste isn’t recycled into similar quality items. It is often downcycled into lower-quality plastics like insulation material, clothing fiber, and furniture – many of which are not easily recycled again,” Nancy Ogonje pointed out.
“The bulk of waste plastic that is not mechanically recycled is either sent to landfills or incinerated. This incineration process releases cancer-causing pollutants into the air and creates toxic ash, which also needs to be disposed of somewhere,” she added.
The East African Wild Life Society supports Kenya’s ban on single-use plastic and the upholding of the United Nations-backed Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The Convention obligates states to observe the fundamental principles of environmentally sound waste management and outlines limits on plastic waste entering low-and- middle-income countries.
In 2019, nearly every country in the world agreed to a new provision in the Basel Convention that aims to limit plastic waste pollution, but the United States was not among them, as it has not ratified the Convention.
Video courtesy: Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala
EAWLS has learnt through a Facebook post by the Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala, that a tented camp has been erected on the banks of the Mara River in the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR), and that the camp is preventing migrating wildebeest from freely crossing the river.
In 2016, the Narok County Government commissioned the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) to conduct a comprehensive and independent audit of all tourist facilities within the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR). The audit revealed some cases of non-compliance with laws, policies and regulations, especially those that relate to tourist facilities’ statutory requirements with regard to business registration, ownership and environmental management.
The audit established that as at 2016, the reserve had a total of 31 permanent tourist facilities, including 29 lodges and two camps, with a total bed capacity of 1,382. It was noted with great concern that in some facilities the bed capacity limit was breached during the peak seasons. The extent of that breach could not be established during the audit.
Not only did this audit contribute to the development of Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) management plan – which is yet to be gazetted – but it also presented some key recommendations.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 stipulates that no development project will be approved in the absence of a Management Plan that has been approved and gazetted by the Cabinet Secretary. The increasing number of tourist facilities built within MMNR in the absence of a gazetted Management Plan is alarming and is in contravention of the Act.
The MMNR is globally regarded as a premier wildlife viewing destination. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1989. In 2006 US broadcaster ABC News named MMNR the seventh New Wonder of the World. An expert panel at ABC’s Good Morning America programme cited the spectacle of the annual migration of more than a million wildebeests, half a million gazelles, and 200,000 zebras constantly on the move from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to MMNR in search of fresh grass and water. The Maasai Mara ecosystem holds up to 30 percent of Kenya’s wildlife.
To read the audit policy brief, click on this link: https://bit.ly/3hhiOq3
The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) participated in the review of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report of the proposed expansion of Ndaragwa Township.
Pursuant to registration 21 Environmental Management and Coordination (Impact Assessment and Audit ) Regulations 2003, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) had received the Environment Impact Assessment Study for this proposed expansion and was thus seeking comments from the public before issuing a license.
The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township, Honourable Jeremiah N. Kioni, is proposing to hive 300 acres off the Aberdare (Ndaragwa Block) forest to allow expansion of Ndaragwa Township in Ndaragwa Sub-County Nyandarua County.
In response, the East African Wild Life Society brought together stakeholders in the forest sector through the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) for a virtual meeting on 30th June 2020 to review the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report with the following observations:
- No specialist(s) on plants and animals was involved in the team conducting the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), hence the findings on the impacts of the project on biodiversity cannot be depended upon.
- The proposed greening of all the streets, parking areas and other infrastructure of the town using indigenous tree species found in the Aberdare Forest (Ndaragwa Block), in order to attract birds and other wildlife including monkeys back to the town fails to take into account that monkeys have the potential to become a menace in the town.
- Proof of public participation including signed participant lists that should be annexed to the report are missing. Photos do not qualify participation. Concerns about whether the participants were clearly informed of the impact of the decision have been raised.
- Stakeholder participation reports on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report are missing. These reports inform how stakeholder participation is conducted and indicates whether the relevant lead agency; Kenya Forest Service (KFS) was adequately consulted. It is also not clear whether other relevant lead agencies including the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) were consulted.
- Considering the nature of the project, the level of authorizing officers should rank from the Ecosystem Conservator (EC) upwards. What appears in the report are the individual comments of a forest officer and a letter from the Director of Forests of the now defunct Department of forests of Nyandarua County. Additionally, comments from FCC (Forest Conservation Committee) should have been sought that would then have made recommendations to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) board.
- The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township into Aberdare forest has not explicitly cover the impacts of cutting down the forest on the environment. For instance, as much as the proponent admits that variation of the boundary as proposed will significantly negatively affect all the three rivers (Mbombo, Pesi and the seasonal stream) the report does not go to further explain the ripple effect of this impact, say, to downstream users like the communities in Samburu County who will undoubtedly suffer water supply shortages.
- The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township into Aberdare forest has not considered total economic valuation of the forest and the subsequent economic loss of hiving off the forest. Forests provide direct and indirect benefits that should be quantified during conversion.
- The proponent has not explored alternatives/options to hiving off forest land. For example, there is a lot of private land that is available yet this land is not clearly shown on the map. The map only shows forest blocks.
- It has been determined and confirmed from the Ndung’u report that the land intended for the expansion of the town was illegally acquired.
- Expansion of the township would cause a lot of pressure on the adjacent forest ecosystem and many resources including but not limited to, fuel wood and water. For instance, the expansion will mean more people coming to settle-in hence increased demand for fuel wood and water.
- The ESIA report keeps referring to documents in the appendices yet they are not attached to the report hence difficult for reviewers to verify/make proper references.
- Hiving 162.52 acres of forest land in Nyandarua County will set a bad precedent for other counties who are likely to demand more forest land. This in contradiction to the government’s efforts, through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to recover areas of Mau and Ngong Road Forest.
With the above observations, the stakeholders concluded that conversion of the forest to a township will have un-repairable damage to the environment and lives of the people in the long run. They consequently opposed the conversion and urged NEMA NOT to approve the ESIA report. This position was stated in a Memorandum to NEMA which will be followed by lobbying the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) not to allow excision of the forest for the expansion of Ndaragwa Township.
Nairobi, June 15 – The latest version of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia for 2020 does not include pangolins, which means the mammals will no longer be used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The move came after China upgraded all species of pangolin from second-class to first-class protected animals on Friday considering their rapidly decreasing numbers due to over-hunting and habitat destruction.
According to the latest version of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, “depleted wild species will be withdrawn from the pharmacopoeia.”
Pangolins are believed to be one of the world’s most endangered animals and the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal, according to TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade research organization.
“Removing the animal from the pharmacopoeia would effectively reduce consumption demand for pangolins and curb illegal hunting and trading,” Sun Quanhui, a scientist from World Animal Protection, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Sun lauded the move, saying it complies with the calls for enhanced protection of pangolins.
In the late 1990s, the number of native pangolins in China was about 60,000, widely distributed in 11 provinces and regions, said a report from China’s first national survey of land wildlife resources.
But the number has declined by about 90 percent, estimated by the Species Survival Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
China started banning pangolin hunting in the wild in 2007 and stopped commercial imports of pangolins and pangolin products in 2018.
But the animal’s unique value as a TCM medicine and lax punishment for eating them have led to the continued hunting of Pagolions.
In TCM, pangolin scales are believed to be able to promote blood circulation and remove stasis as well as diminish inflammation. But the use of pangolin scales has become one of the main threats to their species, Sun noted.
Wang Chengde, an expert from the China Association of Chinese Medicine, told media that scorpion, chilopod and pig nails can be used as substitutes for pangolin scales in TCM therapy.
Pangolins are not the first animals whose medicinal standards have been outlawed. Rhinoceros horns and tiger bones are also banned from being used in TCMs after China banned the trade of these goods and related products in 1993.
Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry has initiated a review of the country’s National Forest Policy with a view to amending the existing Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.
Subsequently, the East African Wild Life Society under the auspices of the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kenya office, convened two multi-stakeholder virtual meetings.
The forums, held on 22nd and 24th June 2020, brought together stakeholders in the forest, wildlife and water sub-sectors at county and national levels.
Some of the issues raised in the two meetings included:
• A disconnect between the objectives outlined in the National Forest Policy 2020 document and the actual policy statements – with objectives being too many and in some cases repetitive
• Inadequate information of how public participation was done
• The planned phase-out of the Plantation and Livelihoods Improvement Scheme (PELIS). There was concern that getting rid of PELIS will lead to the eviction of communities from forests that they have been involved in protecting. Such a move could lead to retaliation and destruction of forests.
EAWLS partnered with the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) to host a panel of experts on 30th June.
Key recommendations at the third meeting included:
1. Suggestions to flesh out the forest policy formulation process to clearly demonstrate linkages between sectors, targets, actors and objectives.
2. A review rather than abolishment of the PELIS system with suggestions that a substantive reform process be established to mitigate systemic corruption and institutional incompetency that have crippled the scheme.
3. Effective facilitation of community participation incentives through clear demarcation of county and national government roles. Youth involvement and gender balance must be strategically formulated with clear guidelines on how to mainstream and ease implementation.
4. Sustained engagement of the private sector as partners in forest conservation.
All the above issues and recommendations raised in the three meetings were consolidated into one document and submitted to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry.
Africa’s wildlife is one of the continent’s biggest attractions. Game reserves and national parks welcome millions of visitors every year, who want to experience wild animals up close.
They rely on that revenue to pay for conservation projects. But now, revenue flow has stopped entirely because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. And many rangers who protect the animals from poachers have lost their incomes.
Conservationists are worried the economic toll could push more people into the illegal wildlife trade.
As one solution to the collapse of global tourism revenues during this crisis, Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps have come up with their own way of ensuring that animals and wildlife habitats are protected, and that rural communities are supported until things return to normal with their new Adopt an Acre plan.
Through the “Adopt-an-Acre” plan, contributors can adopt an acre of land in Kenya’s Maasai Mara conservancies for a year with a donation to the Wildlife Habitat Trust- a fund set up to help to pay the wages of the local staff working in the conservancies as well as the land leases so that Maasai families continue receiving land rents for conservancies to exist. The Trust is audited by a reputable firm of auditors in Nairobi, Grant Thornton Kenya, thus, contributors to the Wildlife Habitat Trust can be confident that 100% of the money collected is going directly to the Maasai community.
In total, there are 42,500 acres to be adopted: Selenkay 13,500 acres, Ol Kinyei 18,500 acres, Naboisho 3,500 acres, Olare Motorogi 7,000 acres.
These 42,500 acres leased by Gamewatchers Safaris provide an income of almost US$1.5 million to the community annually. Every acre of conservancy land supported creates a protected habitat for wildlife and also generates US$35(per acre) that goes straight to the Maasai people with US$20 going to payments for land rents and US$15 to wages.
Today, you have the special opportunity to Adopt an Acre and help ensure that nature’s most vulnerable lands and waters are given the care, love, and the protection that they need.
As a special incentive, anyone adopting 30 acres or more will receive a credit from Gamewatchers Safaris for the same amount donated, to be used for payment of a stay at any of the Porini Camps in 2021 or 2022. So, for example, a donation of US$ 1050 to adopt 30 acres will receive a travel credit worth US$ 1050.
See more details on how to Adopt an Acre: https://www.porini.com/adopt-an-acre-2
Global push for net zero recovery from Covid-19:
155 companies — with a combined market capitalization of over US$ 2.4 trillion and representing over 5 million employees — have signed a statement urging governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science.
As debates on recovery packages around the world ramp up in the coming weeks, the companies, which are all part of the Science Based Targets initiative, are calling for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050. The signatories span 34 sectors and have headquarters in 33 countries.
They include: AstraZeneca, Bayer, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive Company, Inter IKEA Group, Nestlé, Schneider Electric. Unilever, Vodafone Group, amongst others.
The statement comes as governments around the world are preparing trillions of dollars worth of stimulus packages to help economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and as they prepare to submit enhanced national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. In the coming weeks, several major economies will take key decisions in their recovery efforts, including the European Union Recovery Plan, new stimulus packages from the United States of America and India, and the G7 Heads of State summit in June.
The 155 companies have already set, or committed to set, science-based emissions reduction targets. By signing the statement, they are reaffirming that their own decisions and actions remain grounded in science, while calling on governments to “prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy.” Policy and spending that incorporates climate targets will reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters, create good jobs, reduce emissions and ensure clean air, according to a study from Oxford University.
“Saving lives and livelihoods, and building a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future, are at the heart of our efforts to recover from COVID-19,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We can beat the virus, address climate change and create new jobs through actions that move us from the grey to green economy. Many companies are showing us that it is indeed possible and profitable, to adopt sustainable, emission-reducing plans even during difficult times like this. I warmly welcome the ambitious, science-based actions we are seeing from leading companies who are demonstrating to policy-makers that green growth remains the best growth strategy.”
Today is World Environment Day – a day for raising worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.
This year’s theme, “Time for nature” is a call for urgent action to protect biodiversity.
Over the years, World Environment Day has grown into one of the largest global platforms for environmental public outreach and is observed in over 150 countries. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the day will be celebrated and commemorated through its first – ever online – only campaign.
In honour of World Environment Day, the East African Wild Life Society has partnered with the Mpala Research Centre to host a special reading of Executive Director Dino J. Martins children’s book on entomology. Kids of all ages are welcome to learn what means what it means to explore the world around us.
For more information and to register for this event, visit: https://mpala.org/kids-corner/
An energy needs assessment conducted by East African Wild Life Society among households within and around Mt. Suswa Conservancy has revealed that over 90% of these households rely on biomass to fuel their traditional cooking stoves. This reliance has led to escalating levels of forest destruction in the conservancy as well as habitat reduction for baboons, leopards, spotted hyenas, african civets and rock hyraxes who call Mt. Suswa Conservancy home. An increase in respiratory disorders, predominantly among women and school going children has also been noted.
In response, EAWLS in partnership with the Karen Country Club (KCC) recently installed an institutional rocket stove at Karuka Primary School, Mt. Suswa Conservancy. The rocket stove has a capacity to cook for up to 250 people at a go and is expected to benefit over 225 people directly. This rocket stove uses less firewood than traditional cook stoves and ensures complete fuel combustion, thus faster cooking times.
Karuka Primary School is but one of several schools located around Mt. Suswa Conservancy that use traditional cook stoves to prepare meals for their students and teachers. These traditional cooking stoves are inefficient as they do not fully combust biomass thus, up to 75% of heat they produce is lost. Their combustion processes also release compounds including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter and black carbon that are hazardous to human health.
Indoor smoke from biomass is linked to childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer and is ranked in the top 10 risk factors for the global burden of disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
To facilitate the use of their traditional cooking stove, Karuka Primary School pupils previously had to carry at least two pieces of firewood to school every day – a tedious exercise that exposed them to various hazards including attacks by wild animals.
This installation of this and other rocket stoves is a step forward in helping Kenya realise a 100% transition to renewable energy. Furthermore, this initiative champions sustainable development through improvements to human health, energy access as well as biodiversity protection.
If you would like to partner with EAWLS to install rocket stoves in Mt. Suswa Conservancy and reduce biomass dependence, please contact Jabes.Okumu@eawildlife.org.