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Safeguarding the environmental underpinnings of broad-based economic growth

Protecting the integrity of critical ecosystems

Ameliorating and preventing environmental threats to public health

In addition, the guidance helps interpret USAID internal regulations on environmental sustainability and tropical forests and biodiversity.  These regulations are in place to help Missions make the best use of current scientific and social research on environment in their decision-making processes.  A draft version of an assessment of the Kenya Mission’s compliance with these regulations can be found in Annex 6.

During 1999, the Kenya Mission supported a highly praised participatory process to ensure that its move into a new environmental program addressed the issues as defined by a range of experts working with its many partners in country and in Washington.  This document supports that process by providing a broad overview of threats facing the environment in Kenya, based on available data and interviews with expert informants within and outside the Mission.  These specialists also helped judge the relative severity of the threats facing each sector.  Where suggested by informants, general opportunities are also included.  

As noted in the guidance, the “relative severity of problems need not necessarily dictate environmental priorities and assistance strategies.” Similarly, the opportunities section of this assessment is provided for a broad range of parties who might be interested in addressing "environmental threats in Kenya."  Nevertheless, the threats analysis – along with the opportunities and linkages between sectors as noted in Annex 6 – provides a framework in which to consider activity-level and synergistic programming options during the five-year period of the Integrated Strategic Plan.

3. Scope and method

The paper addresses the status and severity of environmental problems in relevant sectors in Kenya in terms of USAID environmental objectives and in accordance with USAID guidance for strategic plans.   The assessment was undertaken through a desk review based in Washington, DC; a visit to Kenya to acquire additional data and views; and a wrap-up period in Washington.  In both locales, relevant documentation was reviewed and key informants were interviewed.  

Although it is difficult in reality to draw lines between environment sectors (e.g., between biodiversity and forests or between agricultural resource use and rural water availability), this paper has done so to allow readers to focus on specific interest areas.  To overcome the artificiality of the separations, specific interest areas are cross-referenced.  A “general statistics and trends” section describes each sector, including (where available) an assessment of the importance of Kenya’s resources on a global, regional, and local scale.  This is followed by a discussion of some key areas where informants and recent studies indicate that environmental threats are significant.  Each sectoral section ends with an overview of the relative severity of threats in that sector, according to expert opinion.   Agricultural resources are defined here to include livestock, water, soil, and land itself.

4. Overview: Kenya today

Kenya is experiencing difficult times, not only in maintaining a healthy environment on which to build its economy, but in other facets of life as well. The population, riddled with HIV/AIDS at increasing rates, is nevertheless still growing at an estimated 2.9 percent per year – far faster than food production or the economy is growing.  The recently completed census notes that the total population has now reached 29 million.  The under-five mortality rate for children – on the decline for half a century until recently – is again on the rise.  Average GDP growth, spurred along at 6.5 percent per year in the 1970s, dropped to 2.3 percent in 1997 and 1.8 percent in 1998.  Comparatively speaking, even Ugandans, whose country suffered through a violent civil war over part of 1997-98, saw an improvement in their living standards higher than Kenyans – Uganda's GDP grew 8 percent per year.  Observers noted that "those who have been managing the Kenyan economy owe Kenyans an explanation." (Deloitte & Touche 1999, p. 3).  

Mismanagement of public goods is transparently and increasingly politicized and driven by self-interest.  Development assistance has declined dramatically in the last decade; donor nations and institutions agree

Kara PagePage 610/23/2006

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