As various parts of the country continue to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change characterised by drought, environmental partners have reiterated the need for prioritisation of environmental conservation matters for sustainable development.
During a two-day sensitization meeting on the development of the West Pokot County Environment Action Plan (CEAP) sponsored by World Vision at Aturukan Hotel in Kitale, the stakeholders called for the need to intensify environmental conservation mechanisms arguing that not so much attention was being accorded to environmental matter.
National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) Chief Planning Officer Dr. Diana Mobagi who led the sensitisation forum maintained that environmental concerns ought to be given the first priority arguing that it is the bedrock to all sorts of development.
“Environment is everything and everything is environment. We should be requesting all those seeking political positions to consider integrating the environment matters in their manifestos,” posed Dr. Mabagi.
She regretted that no county government has established the environment as a stand-alone docket, which is an indicator that minimal efforts are being made to protect the universe against destruction.
She appealed to the West Pokot community and Kenyans in general to document indigenous bylaws regarding environmental conservation which she noted were slowly fading away calling for establishment of environmental conservation sub committees at every level.
“Every community had their own unwritten laws on how to protect their environment against degradation. For instance in some communities, certain tree species were not to be used for firewood. This was meant to guard them against extinction thus a more sustainable ecosystem,” she reiterated.
It was noted that the county was facing a number of issues among them forest degradation, climate change, unsustainable sand mining and quarrying activities, poor solid and liquid waste management.
The stakeholders called on all West Pokot residents to focus their attention on best practices towards conserving the environment which they noted was slowly undergoing general degradation.
West Pokot County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Water, Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change Charles Lochero said that environmental conservation had been left to a few people hence calling for serious engagements among various stakeholders.
Lochero stated that more consultative efforts have to be made to minimise climate change which is becoming a real danger in the region.
He said discussions on environmental conservation should be cascaded up to the household levels for maximum interventions, sentiments that were shared by environmentalists during the meeting.
“The region is bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change as seen by the drying up of water sources, unreliable rains in the famous arable lands, extremely high temperatures and decreasing vegetation cover,” said Solomon Lotolim, an environmentalist from the county.
Lotolim observed that there has been an increasing strain on the use of natural resources within the county dubbed as the “Land of Hidden Treasures” calling on strengthened partnerships to avert environmental disasters.
West Pokot Nema County Director Mr. Cliff Barkatch hailed World Vision Kenya for its various efforts in supporting the region to mitigate against climate change among other environmental issues.
According to a Nema Environmental Performance Index report 2018, West Pokot County was ranked 19 out of the 47 counties with 52.2 per cent score which is slightly below the national average of 56.4 per cent.
The county scored poorly in areas such as Waste Water Treatment (0.00 per cent), Capacity of Environmental Expertise (6.16 per cent), Access to Improved Sanitation (18.31), Access to Safe Drinking Water (25.00), Access to Solid Waste Disposal Services (26.00) and Environmental Risk Exposure (39.30).
The average forest cover in West Pokot County stands at 8.39 per cent which is below the minimum 10 per cent.
By Richard Muhambe