working on wetlands conservation; whole river courses and floodplains have changed in recent years. See Section 5.2.3 for a discussion of some problems being created by hydroelectric dams in Kenya.
5.5.2. Relative severity of threat to energy resources.
Other regions have experienced the problems caused by inadequate planning in the energy sector in terms of rural resource exploitation, painfully visible energy shortages – such as those Nairobi has experienced in recent months, and urban and indoor air pollution. Kenya and other African nations have an advantage in that they can learn to circumvent some of these problems by addressing the issues in advance.
One issue that Kenya will need to consider is the lack of data on greenhouse gases and other emissions and urban pollutants. But as noted by Mackenzie and Christensen (1993, p. 156), “in the African context very limited information is available at present on emissions from any of the energy sources and devices. Although smoke emitted from domestic burning of woodfuels has been recognized as one of the main health hazards for women and children especially, very few activities have been initiated to analyze the complex problems.”
Despite these fears, energy overall does not seem to be the most critical environmental problem facing Kenya today. For example, there was an increase of 7.6 percent in total installed electricity generating capacity in 1998 (Deloitte & Touche 1999). The impact of deforestation for fuelwood needs and charcoal production is of the gravest concerns, however, as is the long-term damage caused to watersheds from hydroelectric dams.
5.6. Urban environmental resources
5.6.1. General statistics and trends.
Urban environmental issues are increasingly recognized in Africa for the importance they bear in quality of life and economic development for major portions of the population. In addition, the linkages between urban and rural water supply and quality, human and industrial waste disposal and treatment, transportation, roads, housing, energy, chemical pollution, and habitat loss are beginning to be identified as important concerns in environmental planning. These links are often unseen in considering rural environmental and natural resource management planning, however they impact those sectors heavily.
Urbanization tends to concentrate both environmental problems and solutions, according to Anderson and Erbach (2000). While the difficulties arise faster and in a denser form due to the close quarters in which many people live, the solutions, such as piped water supplies, solid waste collection, and grid-based energy supplies, are also more efficient. Population growth rates in urban centers are higher than in rural areas, due to immigration from rural areas and other factors (WRI 1996). Consumption rates also tend to be higher, particularly in wealthy areas of cities and towns (McGranahan and Songsore 1994). Issues related to forest and agricultural resources, which are not often considered in the context of "urban environmental management," also arise in the African milieu. Africa's cities usually have developed in a more "rural" way than urban areas in most other geographic regions, and even today the lines between 'what is urban' and 'what is rural' are extremely vague; for example, Richard Stren (2000) estimates that approximately 27 percent of Nairobi's population is involved in some form of urban agriculture. Goats are commonly seen grazing the medians in major thoroughfares downtown. Rural sensibilities – including the rural province or district an individual identifies as his/her home, the social connections associated with ethnic group, and the access to common resources – all continue to be strongly evident among urban dwellers in Kenya. When a vast Nairobi city park called Karua Forest – known as the "lungs of Nairobi" – was degazetted with little notice and parts distributed to private interests in early 1999, the action touched off a violent conflict which made international headlines.
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