If Kenya is to burn, certainly, it will burn with all of us!
Each one of us was born into a reality of nature that seems to be preordained. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west every day. Some countries have more hours of sunshine while others have long time of darkness depending on the position of the earth. The earth is the most beautiful continent and that almost over 2/3 of the earth space is covered in water. The land covers barely 1/3 while out of that land mass, almost 2/3 is desert and life there is harsh. The remaining 1/3 of the earth which is habitable has an increasingly growing population. It is in real sense the fraction of the 1/3 of the land that is arable, inhabitable and where lots of technology and human activities are concentrated. Death rate has reduced due to advanced technology, science, food production and economic outputs worldwide.
To our surprise things are not always the same. The more human population grows the more we impact our natural environment. The more human knowledge, sciences and technology develop the more life becomes easy and tenable. It is a dream of every human to live a better life. Better life means, comfort, peace, food, water, and medical care! Each newly born person is destined to die. Such death can come sooner or later depending on many issues. In geneal, the ratio between the birth rate and death rate is in the interest of macro economists. However, we can still say that experts in development studies shall always tell you that human population is dictated by the economic growth. The more the economy grows, the more the productivity rate. Kenyan population in 1963 was roughly 11 million individuals but in 2009 statistics – the population of Kenya reached over 42 million individuals. This is a sign that the economy has been improving steadily with time. If the same trend continues, then by 2030 Kenyan population shall exceed 50 million individuals. This is good news for all of us.
Bad news is that the economy must be adjusted to sustain a population of 50 million individuals. Remember that the land mass in Kenya where life is concentrated is is less than 1/3. The rest of the land is either arid or semi arid. Life is harsh and population density is relatively low. In the north and north eastern regions, one can walk for 10 kilometers before seeing homes. The reality is harsh and those who live in the 2/3 of Kenya are pastoralists who are threatened by harsh environment and poor weather conditions.
The majority of Kenyans live in the 1/3 of the land where the population growth is high with enormous density. If we consider the economic performance, then it is all concentrated in slightly less than 1/3 of the habitable land. It is no longer good news for all of us. People tend to encroach into forests, wild parks, and public lands for their survival. Tree cutting and use of charcoal are depriving our natural environment its all time beauty. It means, natural resources available to spur the economy is over exhausted explosive exploitation. As though this is not sufficient, the government is also over blotted by huge wage bill that is not sustainable. The only alternative is to borrow from other governments making Kenya one of the most indebted Republics on earth.
Every borrowed money is a foreign investment and the government must pay back. This is not good news for the citizens since the government cannot raise revenue to sustain the budget annually. It means that Kenyans pay more taxes and get poor services in return. The dream of reducing poverty is an illusion. Many new born children may miss quality education since their parents shall not afford the school fees. Many newly married couples may dismiss giving birth, a situation that shall lower the population tremendously. Some women may consider unsecured abortion as the alternative while others may fear getting into marriage due to economic pressure. Some husbands may not survive to see their children growing…and may opt to abscond from their duties. There are many single mothers in Kenya as compared to many other countries around the world.
Health has become a privilege for the few. Most able Kenyans fly to India, South Africa, America or EU to get better treatments when they fall sick. The vast majority are chained to take their health issues to none equipped health centres where 1 medical personnel serves around 3000 people. It is incredible as most of such health centres do not have drugs. Patients are referred to private clinics and chemists which have become lucrative and inaccessible for the poor!
Food is becoming a rare commodity in Kenya. What is available is very expensive for ordinary citizens. Most of the food is not locally grown but imported, making the market price exorbitant. To make matters worse, malnutrition is the cause of many preventable diseases. Generally, the majority of the malnourished population are not able to work. They need food and medicine first! Some become criminals and end up in jails which are also getting over populated with time.
Underneath all this story, our mother nature is threatened and it is also threatening our survival. The climate is changing and it is no longer business as usual in Kenya. Too high temperatures, long droughts, unpredictable rainfalls, and air pollution have made land inhabitable. Water is becoming a rare and one of the most expensive commodities. Farmers are getting it rough with rainfed agriculture while irrigated agriculture is a privilege for the rich farmers.
Lets assume that Kenya may find alternative economy and facilitate its agricultural sector. If this alternative translates into liberating the markets then Kenya is done. Multinationals shall reap the best out of already over strained economy. If it means that the government should borrow from the international banks, then, the burden of tax shall not make life easy for many people. It is the government to come up with clever economic design that shall suit Kenya for many other years to come. But this may require serious commitment from different sectors of experts.
We have reasons to be concerned about the climate just as any other people around the globe. We cannot afford sitting back and watch what is happening as though we are spectators in a theater hall. We are players and we must play. All this comes as we commemorate the late Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai – the environmentalist who left a legacy to be admired. Her premature departure has left Kenya’s environment as orphans…Karura forest, Nairobi National Park, Mt. Kenya forest and many other natural rain forests are vulnerable. Developers and other local business persons appear not to be serious about the environment.