The country is experiencing heavy rains at the moment, this has led to flooding and landslides in some parts of the country especially in Elgeyo marakwet, Baringo, Nandi, Muranga and West Pokot Counties. But what causes flooding? What causes Landslides? You will get so many answers depending on who is answering.Let’s put it in an Environmental point of view: Environmental conservation measures are not put in place to just wait for another person to implement, it is me and you to act. Floods and landslides are natural phenomena but we as human beings can influence it’s intensity in one way or the other. If we figure out the concept of environmental conservation, it can be traced back to ancient times where the heart of environmentalism lied in the decision of old men and women in the society. Every tree served a purpose ranging from medicinal to cultural tools. Capitalism was so predicated on settler colonialism & land exploitation that it was thought to be impossible to imagine forests, jungles, and deserts healing without the protection of the indigenous people who have depended on them for centuries. Settlers are so ideologically removed from the land they inhabit that they’re often unable to talk about it beyond terms of ownership, and would readily sacrifice everything including ecological systems for profit. No attempt on reforestation can even help until this is resolved.
Pictured:Romana Jebet and Bennittes Kipyegon after planting trees at Kapkirwok village.
Let us stop normalizing ableism in environmentalism. This whole obsession with shaming individuals who don’t have the resources or ability to be perfectly eco-friendly is not okay. The real cause of the climate crisis is attributed to individual and corporate greed, this calls for us to pump our energy into addressing this challenge. Individual and corporate greed is fuelled by over consumption in such a way that people are buying and acquiring what they don’t need in the most environmentally destructive ways. We can advise ourselves on how we can stop this habit, but we can be able to forego these things that we don’t need and can do without them. There are important critiques of environmentalism that refuses to reckon with unlimited consumption and growth. In one of my favorite quotes from Rachel Carson, the mother of environmentalism, and one of my personal heroes, she once said “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction”
Pictured: Maize plantation destroyed by floods in North Baringo.
Let’s utilize the opportunity to get closer to Nature as we acclimatize to spending time through distancing ourselves from others. COVID 19 should not stop or disconnect us from nature. The best way to engage mother earth is by planting trees. Trees absorb rainwater, reduces erosion, & creates more permeable soils thus reducing the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides. When roots of trees bury themselves into the hillsides the less likely a landslide will occur because it binds together soil. On the other hand, trees can save billion gallons of storm water runoff in the entire world each year, this means there will be less flooding. If only we learn from the distractions these natural disasters are causing to humans, we could be running around looking for ways of combating such incidences. The only way of curbing this is by the conservation of the environment and planting more trees.
As at today;
It is observed that there is a decline in forest cover in the country by 25% (824,115 hectares) or a rate of 33,000ha forest loss per year. Put in context this is same as losing forest cover equaling the size of 100 football pitches or over 200,000 tree stamps daily.(Source:WWF). According to a new study, almost 36 billion tons of soil is lost every year due to water, and deforestation and other changes in land use make the problem worse.(Source:European Commission Joint Research Centre).
United Nations Environmental Programme(UNEP) estimates that every second 310 Kg of toxic chemicals are released into our air, land, and water by industrial facilities around the world. This amounts to approximately 10 million tons (over 21 billion pounds) of toxic chemicals released into our environment by industries each year.
In addition, United Nations Framework Covention on Climate Change(UNFCC)estimates Kenya’s total Green gas emissions(GHG)at 60.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), totaling 0.13% of global GHG emissions .
A massive tree planting operation MUST be organised not just to prevent landslides and flooding but for the good of our mother earth. I have always understood that forests along river banks actually help prevent flooding further downstream and it would be much effective than post flood prevention schemes. “If we act now, we will not be crying tomorrow.”