Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Education of Climate Change

The world is currently seized of the topic of climaTe change, but Kenya is living with its head buried in the sand. The Government is not doing anything to create a national discussion of the issues. They should borrow a leaf from the Old Man as in his soil erosion campaigns and the construction of gabions kuzuia mmonyoko wa udongo, as the slogan went. The world is spending goodly amounts of dollars to make the problem of climate change go away. You have your CDMs, your carbon-trading and such-like programmes. When a less sophisticated country like Uganda is getting the lion's share of funding for climate change mitigation/adaptation programes, it is time for the Kenya government to wake up to the realisation that the global cake is being divided and we are not even at the dining table, let alone in the room. For this country to benefit from the resultant allocation of international resources and the attendant technologies and knowledge thereof, we must evolve a strategy that involves all Kenyans-from kindergarten upwards. This top-down strategy that is currently being pursued is not going to yield sustainable fruits.
Which brings me to the role that NEMA is playing in the matter of environmental management today. It is completely missing its point by a mile. What NEMA should be actively engaged in at present is co-ordinating government departments in the arena of environmental management. They should be taking their lead from NEMA, not the other way around. When you have Perment Secretaries refusing to meet with the Director General, you have serious problems in emphasising your mandate. Dr. Mwinzi is a personable enough man, but he should now put his foot down and tell them that the show is his to run. NEMA has a unique opportunity of reversing the trend towrds environmental irrelevance that this nation has been following since Rio in '92. Whenever the Western powers come up with a strategy to move the UNEP HQ to some western capital, the lead in countering this should be taken by NEMA, not Tuju's MFA which has proven itself inept and crippled by cronyism and scandal.
NEMA occupies a unique statutory position in that it can dictate to any government department on environmental policy without the fear of political interference. That it is not happening just shows how much we need to move in empowering parastatals and other public instsutuions to ignore ill-judged and ill-implemented political machinations. When it starts playing its role in the full, the matter of environmental policy and all the attendaant subjects will become national topics that are addressed by all Kenyans, just like in the bad old days.

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