Many years have passed since a Cabinet minister once said the waters of Nairobi River would one day be environmentally-clean and that he would be the first to swim in it. That remains a pipe dream, at least for now. What is Nema doing towards attainment of this dream? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi
Francis, I would wish to invite you to the recently restored John Michuki Memorial Park, a green space at the heart of Nairobi City, the rehabilitation works ably undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. You will not fail to notice that the river is spotlessly clean.
There is evidently an ongoing clean-up of Nairobi River upstream of Michuki Park that covers the areas drained by the Kirichwa and Nyongara rivers. Indeed, Nairobians will one day enjoy a swim in a clean Nairobi river. This is not a pipedream! Additionally, Nema has developed a robust five-year Urban Rivers Regeneration Programme in which the Nairobi River Pollution Control strategy and action plan is embedded. This is a multi-agency strategic intervention involving State and non-State actors at both national and county levels.
Both Nema and the Nairobi City County have clear regulations that restrict the number of boreholes per 600 metres. Notably, Nema has persisted in disregarding these laws, as in the case of Hatheru Road Lavington which has over 10 boreholes on a kilometre stretch. Now that some of the boreholes have begun drying up, what will Nema do to rectify such mistakes and avert a complete environmental disaster? Sam Watene, Nairobi
It is a legal requirement for all projects listed in the second schedule of the EMCA to undertake Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Institutional recognition is a key component of the EIA. The hydrogeological survey/assessment report undertaken by the Water Resources Authority (WRA) inform Nema’s Record of Decision with regard to issuance of EIA licence for the borehole drilling.
The survey details the availability and quality of the underground water resource and the aquifer to be tapped. From a strategic level, the Authority in liaison with the WRA had initiated the survey on cumulative impacts of boreholes on the ground water resources within Nairobi.
When the late John Michuki was the Minister of Environment, under which Nema falls, we saw a sustained crackdown on noise polluters. Today, the noise polluters are back in business behaving as if they are above the law. When can Kenyans expect Nema to act and return the country to the ‘Michuki era’? Mike Johan, Nairobi County
The control of noise pollution, other public nuisances and outdoor advertising are among the devolved environmental functions being undertaken by the county governments as stated in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution. That notwithstanding, Nema has been dealing with case-by-case incidents as reported.
Project proponents intending to construct places of worship, night clubs and any other permanent premises should seek an EIA licence in which noise pollution control measures are prescribed during construction and occupation/operational phases as required in EMCA 1999.
More than three years have passed since the ban on plastic bags took effect in August 2017. From Nema’s perspective, how has the country benefited from the ban? Mary Nafula, Eldoret
Before the ban, Kenya used to generate 100 million shopping bags annually! However, the plastics that used to litter the landscape have drastically reduced, and most towns are relatively cleaner, devoid of the flimsy carrier bags. Largely the quality of the environment has greatly improved.
The ban has also provided business opportunities to manufacturers of alternative non-plastic packaging options. The country has avoided the importation of millions of metric tonnes of plastic material which would have not only increased our carbon footprint, but also the associated environmental pollution.
One of the most glaring weaknesses of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999, is that it leaves the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment in the hands of developers. The consultants who the developers hire to conduct EIA, though licensed by Nema, are in it for profit and can easily be compromised to give favourable assessments. This has been the reason for many disputes between developers and residents’ associations. Why has this flaw not been corrected? Josiah Owuor, Kericho
This is debatable. Project proponent paying for the services of an environmental expert is conventional and is based on the polluter-pays principle. Nema registers and issues practising licences to the environmental experts. The Authority has also issued a Code of Practice and Professional Ethics for the experts to provide a system of nurturing competence, knowledge, professional conduct, consistency, integrity and ethics in carrying out of environmental assessments and environmental audit. An environmental assessment expert who contravenes the provision of the Code of Practice and Professional Ethics commits professional misconduct and shall be subject to disciplinary action by the Authority as appropriate. The establishment of the Environmental Institute of Kenya (EIK), an umbrella body for the experts, has enhanced strict adherence to the regulations.
What can Nema do to ensure that public spaces are left open and accessible for members of the public, especially children? Margaret Mwaura, Children’s Environmental Rescue
The planning process does take into account the right to a clean and healthy environment for all including the children’s rights to play in safe and secure open spaces.
The Physical and Land Use Planning Act, 2019 has provisions for the setting aside of green and public spaces for the use by the public including open spaces for children to play. The challenge occurs during the implementation of the various approved projects that does not take into account the open spaces that had been identified during the planning process.
Nema ensures that any approval that it grants have provisions for open spaces and protection of the public spaces as envisioned in EMCA 1999, section 57A and 58 on the administration and processing of the applicable environmental assessment tools such as Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Audit (EA).
What procedure should one follow in order to submit a concept note under the Green Climate Fund? How long does it take to give response to a concept note so submitted? Joseph Munene, Nyeri
Nema is accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as a direct access entity to submit funding proposals of up to $10 million. Prospective applicants who prefer Nema to be their Accredited Entity (AE) should engage Nema early enough to be guided on the process and to jointly develop the concept note or the funding proposal.
Before preparing a full proposal, it is recommended to develop a concept note. This is a voluntary but useful step that allows AEs to seek feedback from the GCF Secretariat about whether the proposal matches the Fund’s objectives and mandate.
It takes approximately one month for the GCF Secretariat to provide feedback on the concept note. Both the concept note and full proposal are done using templates that can be accessed on the GCF website (www.greenclimate.fund).
The country has been waiting for e-waste regulations since 2013 when a draft was developed. What is preventing the draft regulations (with modifications to bring them up to currency) from being adopted and implemented? In the meantime, how is Nema regulating e-waste management? Hassan Gitonga, Gilgil
The e-waste regulations is currently at an advanced stage for gazettement by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry. In the meantime, Nema is working closely with key stakeholders like Safaricom PLC and WEEC (World Environment Education Network) Centre, among others, to ensure that e-waste is properly and sustainably managed to reduce pollution.
What is Nema’s position on the use of asbestos for new projects and existing/old buildings with asbestos? Khalil Habib
Nema is committed to ensuring that asbestos as a roofing material is gradually phased out in Kenya. Nema has been at the forefront in the management, control and use of asbestos roofing sheets in Kenya and have over the years sensitised the public through various forums on the dangers of asbestos roofing sheets and advised on the safe management for their removal and disposal.
To this end, Nema developed National Guidelines on Safe Management and Disposal of Asbestos in 2011 which require that no new developments should use asbestos as a roofing material; buildings with asbestos roofing that is still intact and in good condition can encapsulate the asbestos using approved coatings to ensure that the asbestos fabrics are contained in site; and, buildings with deteriorated asbestos roofing are required to safely remove the asbestos and have them safely disposed of at licensed sites.
At a certain spot behind the stone wall dividing New Kitisuru Estate and Mwimuto village, rubbish is frequently burned in the estate and the smokes billows outside the wall towards Mwimuto side and no doubt part of it hits people inside their houses. What can be done to stop this practice? Githuku Mungai, Nairobi
Open burning of waste is not allowed by law and is therefore illegal. Nema has taken note of the incident and will be addressed within the next 72 hours.