Closing Speech by Prof. C.P.M. Khamala at 2003 The National Environment Tribunal (NET) Awareness Workshop



  • Ms. Florence Muchemi, Chairman, National Environment Tribunal,
  • Prof. Okidi: Director/Institute of Development Studies – Uon
  • Conveners of this workshop
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted and honoured to be with you at the close of this important awareness creation and consultative workshop of the National Environment Tribunal (NET), whose objective is to sensitize participants on the existence and functions of the Tribunal in particular, and EMCA in general. I am happy to note that the Tribunal is reaching out to various sectors in the economy to sensitize them on their rights and obligations with respect to sustainable use of our environment and natural resources. It is pleasing therefore that many of the participants are from the construction and manufacturing sectors. These are the sectors, which are known to be engaged in activities with significant potential impacts on the environment and natural resources.

The Tribunal has invited me to a number of its workshops, which have often been organized jointly with the Public Complaints Committee. The workshops I have attended have clearly focused on the roles of various stakeholders in environmental management. NET invited me in April 2003 to participate at the workshop for the preparation of rules of procedure. I am happy to note that those regulations have since been finalized and gazetted. This is a further indication that the Tribunal is ready to receive appeals and determine them.

Ladies and Gentlemen
You must have known by now the functions and activities of the National Environment Tribunal. You must also have been sensitized on the serious environmental challenges facing this country, particularly those related to degradation and pollution. Among the serious environmental problems facing our country are pollution, both from industrial and domestic activities, waste disposal management and deforestation. In fact, Kenya’s forest cover is 1.7% as opposed to the recommended world minimum of 10% of national land cover.

Solid waste is a serious threat to human health and the environment. Heaps of refuse dumped carelessly are a health hazard as they provide breeding ground for disease vectors such as flies, and rodents. Equally, hazardous compounds which are often disposed off with waste are associated with a number of health disorders, including cancer, birth defects, and sterility in humans, genetic mutations, immunodeficiency, and failure for vital body organs. Hazardous wastes and related epidemiological data in Kenya have revealed many cases of human poisoning by hazardous wastes.

Carbon monoxide produced mainly from incomplete burning of fuels in vehicles, is a very toxic gas, which can damage the central nervous system and death. In pregnant mothers, it hampers mental and physiological development of the foetus.

Lead emissions, resulting form the lead, which is added to petrol for purpose of enhancing engine performance and increasing fuel economy has potential to cause neurological disorders, brain damage, learning disabilities, damage to kidneys, liver, and reproductive systems. NEMA is working with other agencies to phase-out leaded gasoline.

You are normally engaged in projects and activities which you may be required to carry out environmental impact assessment studies in order to be licensed by NEMA to commence project activities. You may wish to challenge a denial or issuance of such a license with conditions by seeking intervention of the Tribunal. It is therefore important that you understand the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999 in total.

In view of the above, you will no doubt need to be better informed about the provisions of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, especially your rights and obligations. This workshop on awareness creation is therefore the beginning in understanding this law. NEMA on its part has a department for environmental education, information and public participation. The department will be conducting environmental education and awareness creation campaigns aimed at reaching each and every Kenyan.
It may be desirable for the National Environment Tribunal to consider ways of collaborating with the department in conducting awareness.
creation campaigns with a view to maximizing on available resources. Experts in this department would develop specific programmes for particular target groups, e.g. industrial groups, primary and secondary schools, churches and market groups, councilors and community based organization. Each group will require different techniques and tools for conveying the essence of good environmental management. When that is achieved Kenya will have made positive steps toward creating a healthy environment for its citizens.

Ladies and Gentlemen
As I have mentioned earlier, this workshop has come at an opportune time, as our country is faced with enormous environmental challenges. I know that similar workshops have been scheduled for other regions of the country.

The rapid population growth has increased the demand for natural resources, leading to environmental degradation, characterized by poor health, reduced land productivity, increased land degradation, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, soil erosion and siltation, pollution of soil air and water, chronic famines and abject poverty.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) is a vital tool in sustainable environmental management as it establishes national environment principles and provides guidance on good environmental management.

It further deals with cross-sectional issues such as overall environmental policy formulation, environmental planning, protection and conservation of the environment, environmental impact assessment, environmental audit and monitoring, environmental quality standards, environmental restoration orders, institutional coordination and conflict resolution.

If all these are implemented as required, then I cn assure you that Kenya will attain the desired state of environment within the shortest period possible.

Finally, I wish to challenge the participants who are here today to be at the forefront in helping to create a healthy environment for us all. Together we shall win.

With these remarks, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to declare this workshop officially closed.