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Civil Society Push For New Environmental Laws

The activists say the existing environment laws are too weak and dont address the current developments that have an impact on the environment.
09 Dec 2017 15:45
Samuel Okolony(L), Program Officcer with African Institute For Energy Governance( AFIEGO) and anf officer From NAPE
Environmental groups say government must urgently put in place a new environment law to regulate new developments with likely adverse effects on the environment.

Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and six others in a meeting on Friday expressed concern over the delay by cabinet to approve the Draft National Environment Bill.

The Draft National Environment Bill once enacted will repeal the 1996 environment Act which environmentalists say is too weak and does not address new environment challenges.

The Water and Environment Ministry also drafted the National Environment Management Policy and the Draft Environment Impact Assessment regulations but all have remained on shelves pending cabinet approval.

National Environment Management Policy, 1994 provides for Environment Impact Assessment(EIA). Environment Impact Assessment is one of the vital tools to ensure environmental quality and resource productivity on long-term basis.

The activist groups say the new law, policies and regulations will ensure that the development of the oil and gas and other developments are carried out based on strong laws so as to protect sensitive ecosystems including wetlands.

Their demands come just after government and United Nations Development Programme agreed to begin a wetland restoration efforts across the country.

The Wetland restoration drive is funded by UN Green Climate Fund to the tune of  $44.6 million.  

The environment groups however said without strong environmental laws in place, restoration of degraded wetlands alone will not yield any results.  

They noted that institutions such as National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the district environment offices across the country are too weak to enforce laws and policies.

The NEMA and related institutions according the activist lack both sufficient human resource and financial capacity to supervise and enforce laws and policies.

National Environment Management Authority has in the past equally complained about failure by cabinet to put in place the new laws and regulations. NEMA admits that the current is lacking in some aspects especially in regulating the oil and gas sector.  

Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris in September told URN that the Bill would be presented to Parliament in October but it wasn't.