Progress on Kenya's Action Plans
(3 February 1997)
This article is reprinted from Kenya's Daily Nation on-line edition, 3 February 1997.
National Environment Action Plan
By JEFF OTIENO
The formulation of a National Environment Action Plan and an environmental policy on the sustainable use of wetlands is at an advanced stage, the Director of the National Museums of Kenya said yesterday.
Dr Mohammed Isahakia said a legal and institutional framework, under which the two plans will operate, will soon be complete. "A policy on wetlands will help conserve biodiversity in wetland areas now threatened with extinction," he said.
Dr Isahakia's remarks were read by the Deputy Director of Biodiversity, National Museums of Kenya, Dr Richard Bagine, during the World Wetlands Day celebrations at the National Museums.
He said the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, ratified by the Government in 1990, made lakes Nakuru and Naivasha Ramsar sites. He added that the provision of appropriate information on wetlands was important for empowering communities and governments on the wise use of wetlands.
Dr Isahakia said the National Museums of Kenya was in the process of developing major exhibits on the functions of Lake Victoria wetland and its importance to the surrounding community.
The future of Lake Victoria, he said, was threatened, "and with such a disaster at our doorstep, the people of Lake Victoria region need support and encouragement from the Government and the donor community." Dr Jean Pierre d'Huart, the Representative of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, who was the chief guest, said two-thirds of the world's fish harvests were provided by wetlands.
However, he said, wetlands the world over were under constant threat of destruction due to man's activities.
He called for the education of communities on the importance of wetlands: "as they provide us with clean water, abundant food resources, medicines, fuels, building materials among many other things. . . . They provide us with a wide range of services, many of which are taken for granted in government planning and development processes," he added.
Dr dHuart urged people living near wetland ecosystems to form community-based organizations to safeguard wetlands. "Governments should enforce strict planning control and order environmental assessments as a matter of course wherever a wetland is threatened," he said.
Dr Isahakia said the National Museums of Kenya will launch a teachers environmental education handbook.