Seven reasons why Kenya banned the plastic carrier bags?

Plastics were introduced in Kenya in the 1960s as a simple solution for packaging. The polythene bags use gained momentum over the years. Shoppers were supplied with excess of these bags and one could request for any number of bags so long as there was something to be packed. Unfortunately, consumers did not know what to do with them once they unwrapped the bought items. There was little awareness on proper disposal of the bags and appropriate mechanisms of their disposal was lacking.

Plastic bags were favoured by industry, retailers and the public for the following reasons.
1. They are cost-effective, easy to use, and convenient to store.
2. They are available in bulk purchases at very low cost as compared to alternative bags such as reusable cloth bags.
3. Plastic bags are quicker to open, pack, and double up than other bags.
4. Plastic bags are light and require less storage space than other bags.

Over the years, these bags continued to be dumped recklessly and turned into a rather costly undertaking. The plastic bags turned out to be the biggest challenge in solid waste management.

Kenya’s resolve to ban Polythene bags was informed by scientific evidence of the negative effects of the same. The seven reasons why Kenya banned use of plastic carrier bags include the following:-

1. Reduce environmental aesthetics

Once used and disposed improperly, polythene bags becomes litter and finds it’s way into waterways, parks, beaches and streets reducing their aesthetics. Evidence of being near an urban centre was the increase in prevalence of all colour of polythene bags. Our trees were full of differently coloured bags blown by wind.

For the tourist sector, Kenya’s selling point is her natural and scenic beauty, which needs to be safeguarded. A major concern is that the highways being the gateways to Kenya’s major tourist attraction destinations were strewn with scattered plastic waste. Our national parks were no longer natural and were littered either by tourists or through polythene bags blown by wind. Nakuru National Park for instance was collecting tons of polythene bags either blown by wind into the park or carried to the lake by the rivers draining therein. Every month, Nakuru National Park used over Kshs 1 million to clear the polythene bags in the park.

2. Release toxic fumes when burnt

If burned, they pollute air with toxic fumes that contain chemicals including dioxins and furans, which have been linked with cancer. It is common to find people burning waste at dumpsites and at residential areas. The smoke flows freely and people seemed not to be aware of the dangers they were exposed to. Hence many people may have been exposed to carcinogens from plastic smoke.

3. Kills animals after ingesting the bags

They are a threat to aquatic life, wildlife animals and livestock whereby if ingested, the polythene bags fill the gut of the animal and kill it, and remain intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Data from abattoirs in Kenya indicated that at least one case per day of animals with plastics in their digestive systems is reported in every abattoir. The most affected livestock are cows, which may be attributed to the selective feeding preferences of other types of livestock such as sheep and goats. A case was reported of a slaughtered cow with an average of 2.5 kilograms of plastic waste in its lumen. This has negative economic impacts especially in dairy cows.

Kenya’s marine ecosystem was not spared either. Every year, tons of polythene bags and other waste was collected from our oceans especially during Coastal Cleanup day. The oceans were littered with all types of polythene bags and marine animals were found with these bags in their lumen.

4. Contribute to flooding in urban areas

Flimsy polythene bags litter clogs drainage and sewer lines increasing the costs of maintenance, and if unattended lead to flooding of urban areas during heavy rains. This makes our roads impassable and cuts off some areas when it rains. If flooding worsens, it can lead to drowning, destruction of houses and loss of life.

5. Act as breeding grounds for harmful organisms

Polythene bags trap stagnant water which becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes that cause malaria which can kill people.The littered bags also provide hideouts for other harmful organisms such as rats, cockroaches and snakes which can harm people either directly or as carriers of disease causing microbes.

6. Take centuries to decompose

The decomposition of polythene bags takes about 1000 years and this means that they remain for long in the environment. Hence the polythene bags that were introduced in Kenya in the 1960’s is still lying somewhere in the environment causing harm to the planet and people.

7. Legal and policy demands

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 Article 42 assures all Kenyans a clean and healthy environment, of course with a demand upon all people to be responsible to safeguard this right. Article 69 obligates the government to eliminate all processes and activities that degrade the environment. Polythene bags are a common environmental menace and needs to be removed from the environment.

To fulfil these constitutional demands, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has developed several policies, key among them being the Sessional Paper No. 10 of 2014 on Environment Policy. The waste management agenda is further legislated in EMCA Cap 287 and its associated Waste Management Regulations 2006. In addition, the National Solid Waste Management Strategy 2014 further elaborates actions to be taken to address the waste challenge at national and county level.

This Gazette notice No. 2356 issued on 28th February 2017 banned the plastic carrier bags and was a culmination of a healthy debate between the government and the private sector on solid waste management especially on how to eliminate the polythene bags. This engagement started in 2007 when the first legislation was imposed through a finance bill. This bill introduced excise duty on importation of polythene raw materials and products. However, this intervention did not help to solve the plastic bags menace. Hence the discussion between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, NEMA and the private sector through the Kenya Association of Manufacturers continued, without much result.

From 2007, the main complaint from the private sector was loss of jobs. However careful analysis of this complaint revealed that the direct jobs related to polythene bags were mainly confined in Nairobi where the factories were located. The indirect jobs were mainly retail of the polythene bags. Hence these jobs were localized, engaged only a few people since the system was automated and mechanical; but the environmental damage was nationwide.

This analysis also showed that a shift from polythene carrier bags to alternative bags could create more jobs all over the country. The alternative packaging industry would also revive indigenous art craft and growing of some crops such as sisal and cotton. Hence the cost benefit analysis indicated that removal of carrier bags had elevated levels of livelihood gains as well as environmental conservation benefits.

EMCA Cap 387 requires that NEMA advises the office of the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) on diverse aspects of environmental management including the areas requiring additional legislation, policies and guidelines. In the case of the plastic carrier bags ban, NEMA advised the Cabinet Secretary to impose a ban on plastic carrier bags.

Law making process demands for extensive consultation with the Attorney General’s office where legal drafting is done. The Cabinet Secretary MENR consulted at length with the Attorney General’s office and the gazette notice no. 2356 was refined and published on 28th February 2017 and a grace period of 6 months was given to the industry and the public to adjust to the ban. The ban became effective on 28th August 2017.

The plastic carrier bags ban has been in place for some time. The alternative bags production has been upscaled and has employed many people from across the country. It is also interesting to note that this livelihood option employs people of all levels of education and gender. Hence it enhances inclusivity.

Since the ban became effective, the country appears to be getting cleaner. The plastic bags littering that was an eyesore is reducing. The residential areas now look less littered. There is hope that if all people comply with the ban and stop using the polythene bags, all the challenges associated with the polythene bags will not be there anymore.


Weeping over the polythene bags

The crackdown on offences relating to the plastic carrier bags has been enhanced. Every day, the daily newspapers are awash with reports on people taken to court and fined heavily for crimes related to the plastic carrier bag.

It is an offence to use, import or manufacture plastic carrier bags in Kenya. This is after the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) advised the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) to legislate against the plastic bags. Hence on 28th February 2017, the Cabinet Secretary (MENR) gazetted the plastic carrier bags ban, with an effective date commencing six months later (28th August 2017)

After 28th August, Kenyans who are still in love with the polythene bags have been doing their business hinding. I have visited several places and whenever I confront somebody selling their wares in plastic bags, the first response is that of flight. They seem ready to take off and run away if my engagement suggests enforcement action. This implies that Kenyans are aware of the plastic carrier bags ban, and breaking the law is rather deliberate. This justifies the need for enforcement action being undertaken by NEMA.

When NEMA arrests a plastic carrier bags culprit, a case file is prepared and submitted to court. According to the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) Cap 387, those found guilty of offences risk being fined between Kshs 2 million to 4 million or imprisonment of between 1 year to 4 years. These penalties are very high. There are very few Kenyans who can afford this minimum fine of Kshs 2 million.

The courts initially took a very lenient route, but as days go by, the penalties have been increasing. Those arrested in earlier days benefitted from warnings from the courts. This has graduated into fines of Kshs. 5000. Others have had to part with heavy cash bonds ranging from Ksh 100,000 to Kshs 2 million. It is becoming a reality that soon, somebody will be fined the full amount prescribed in EMCA Cap 387. Imagine just possessing a few polythene bags making one to part with all this money. Funny thing, many Kenyans have ears but they don’t hear, they have eyes but do not see. Every day, we are witnessing new culprits being aligned in court.

No government would wish to subject its citizens to any pain. The arrests of Kenyans and their prosecution in court is regrettable. But why do Kenyans want to continue with old habits even after they have been legislated against?
Can the government close its eyes when Kenyans ignore a law meant to make the environment more pristine. Possibly not. Every day, the NEMA enforcers wish that all Kenyans would comply to the plastic bags ban and there would be no need to disturb people as they go ahead with their daily chores. But this has not happened, hence a few Kenyans have found themselves in court. Very regrettable indeed.

The intention of the polythene bags ban was not to diminish Kenyans’ comfort with regard to packaging of their wares. To the contrary, the government wished Kenyans to make packaging more enjoyable, one that does not lead to a degraded environment. The use of the alternative bags was meant to be full of fun where one takes care of his or her packaging bag and reuses it over and over. This implies that there would be enhanced attachment to the alternative bag which becomes albeit like a souvenir.

I take this opportunity to warn my friends to beware that enforcement of the ban on plastic carrier bags is on in full gear. The courts are already operating within the provisions of EMCA Cap 387. You can be fined Kshs 2 million, and this may make you to be a bother to your friends and relatives. If you are unable to pay the fine, your family and friends may miss you for a period of not less than one year. In either way, jail or fine, economic, social and opportunity costs losses will be enormous. Please keep off the plastic carrier bags.

Teaching a toddler about clouds

The sky is fascinating
Looking at it, there are many colours
The blue colour dominates
The blue colour covers a long distance
Clouds appear like smoke in the sky
Clouds float in the sky
Clouds are blown by wind from place to place.
Clouds are formed in the sky from water vapour
Clouds are made of small drops of water
Clouds are white or dark in colour
Clouds with a lot of water are dark in colour
Clouds with little water are white in colour
When the sky is full of clouds, the weather is cloudy
Dark clouds sometimes give us rain

Dark clouds become heavy with water vapour
Dark, heavy clouds form drops of water which falls on the ground as rain

After the polythene ban, which bags shall remain in use in Kenya?

On 28th February 2017, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural resources issued the Gazette notice No. 2356, banning the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging. The gazette notice effective date will be Monday, 28th August 2017.

Does this date signify the end of use of plastic bags in Kenya? To a big extent this is true. Most of the carrier bags will not be used in Kenya any more. But a few polythene bags will remain as I will explain below.

Since publishing of the ban, the stakeholders dealing with polythene bags have held numerous meetings with NEMA presenting their case on why the ban should not be implemented on certain products. From these meetings, the ban has been interpreted in an effort to clarify which polythene bags will remain, to ensure that businesses are not adversely affected. NEMA has explained this on their website ( as frequently asked questions. In this regard, NEMA has proposed several exemptions to the polythene ban. The exemptions are classified in several categories as listed below.

Category 1: Plastic carrier bags

All bags in this category are banned. These are bags commonly known as “Juala” that are used as secondary packages for items in shops, markets etc. In this category of banned bags, there are NO EXEMPTIONS

Category 2: Flat bags

Flat bags have numerous uses and exemptions in this category differ. For instance those flat bags used for carrying items outside industrial setting such as to carry items from groceries are banned.

However, in this category EXEMPTION is extended for bags used for industrial primary packaging where the product is in direct contact with the plastic and is done at the source. Examples of this primary packaging include bread, salt, sugar, sausages and other foodstuff. Other exemptions include polythene bags used in packaging of fish products and agricultural produce. Polythene bags used for the tree nursery tubes are also exempted.

Exemptions under this category are provided subject to the following conditions:
i. Extended Producer/User Responsibility and/or effective Take Back Schemes – the manufacturer or user of the product must ensure that a plan is in place to mop up the waste generated.
ii. Legibly and permanently labelled bags to indicate the name of the industry manufacturing the product, the end-user and physical addresses for ease of monitoring, traceability and therefore ease of enforcement intervention.
iii. Keeping of inventory/record with the aim of implementing the take back scheme.

Category 3: Flat bags used as Garbage and hazardous (e.g. medical waste, chemicals etc.) waste liners
i. Hazardous waste liners are exempted so long as they are legibly and permanently labelled (as indicated in 2 ii above) and color-coded and are incinerated together with the waste.

ii. Garbage Liners are also exempted on condition that they are clearly labelled (as indicated in 2 ii above) and have demonstrated effective and efficient Extended Producer/User Responsibility and/or effective Take Back Schemes. The liners will NOT be dumped together with the waste but will be emptied and reused or recycled by the licensed waste collector and transporter (the end user).

Category 4: Duty Free shop bags
The ban applies to the use, manufacture and importation of the banned plastics within Kenya. Bags issued at Duty free shops at airports are exempted due to ICAO and IATA Rules and Regulations. However, any traveller coming into Kenya with duty free bags shall be required to leave the same at the point of entry.

Credit: NEMA-Kenya
For more updates, visit


Everyone yearns to be loved
Love makes us happy
Love excites
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is gracious
Love rehabilitate sinners
Love perseveres
Love forgives
Love is merciful
Love respects
Love is emotive
Love rejoices in goodness
Love does not pretend
Love nurtures warm relationships
Love is not jealous
Love does not boast
Love is not proud
Love is not self-seeking
Love is not easily angered,
Love keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil
Love rejoices with the truth
Love always protects
Love always trusts
Love always hopes

Mark 12:28-31
John 13:34-35
1Cor 13:1-3
Romans 12:9

Where there is no love we get:

Love of money
No respect
Negative energy

….among others

Suggested activities to mark an environmental day

The World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated every 5th June. The decision to mark WED was arrived at during the 1st World Conference on Environment held in 1972 in Stockholm Sweden. Hence the day is a very important occasion marking the birthday of environmental movement globally.

Since there are many environmental challenges facing humanity, it is possible to designate any day to be an environment day. People could be mobilized to come together and undertake activities to address the environmental challenge affecting them.

Most people do not know what to do to mark an environmental day. Here below is a list of Fifty suggested innovative activities to mark an Environment Day at institutional and individual level.

1. Participate in tree planting, clean-ups within the institution or at community level
2. Engaging the media to publicize the greening activities in learning institution
3. Saturate institutional websites with reports of ongoing green interventions
4. Organize outdoor fun / learning activities
5. Greening/integrating environmental aspects in workplans and teaching approaches
6. Organize drama and art activities on environmental issues
7. Initiate or upscale waste recycling activities
8. Organize competitions such as sports, art etc with environmental theme
9. Invite knowledgeable people to give a talk on an environmental issue and what could be done
10. Develop and disseminate awareness materials customized on an environmental theme
11. Teachers to read a speech during assembly from the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on World Environment Day
12. Arrange a speech competition among best debaters of the school on an environmental theme
13. Organize a poster competition and give awards to makers of best posters
14. Organize a skit competition and give award to best performers
15. Students to write essays on significance of an environmental issue
16. Mount posters at eye-catching spots telling people about an environmental issue
17. Develop short green slogans and publicize them
18. Organize a peaceful march within the locality for the environment and display placards
19. Avoid use of polythene bags and polluting the environment
20. Switch off gadgets that use electricity if not needed
21. Write to Member of County Assembly, members of parliament, government and newspapers the local environmental issues that need to be addressed
22. Assess areas where environmental degradation has taken place and raise awareness on what should be done
23. Organize an exhibition for different people and institutions to display their green practices
24. Mobilize communities to plant trees in farms
25. Avoid activities leading to environmental degradation
26. Take measures to conserve soil
27. Promote water and energy conservation
28. Promote awareness on smart agriculture
29. Promote awareness and adoption of better environmental practices
30. Give green champions/worker awards to members of staff who demonstrate greatest commitment to environmental conservation
31. Study the latest institutional environmental, health and safety audit progress report and publicise it among staff and in the media to demonstrate commitment to green economy. This will motivate other industrial players to follow suit.
32. Write on social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter and that of your friends about your thoughts and actions regarding the World Environment Day
33. Design and develop a WED themed customized poster and post it on your social page timeline
34. Search the internet for environmental information related to the WED theme and share it within your social platforms
35. Search for green groups on the internet and share your environmental concerns with them
36. Participate in environmental discussions initiated on social media by other environmentalists
37. Conduct a competition on social media on the WED theme to raise environmental awareness
38. Press the “Like button” on all shares done by others on social media to encourage sharing more environmental awareness messages
39. Organize a panel discussion of imminent environmentalists to discuss a pertinent environmental issue
40. Organize an awareness caravan of vehicles branded with environmental messages and with enhanced sound equipment to reach many people with environmental awareness.
41. Visit the UN Environment website page on World Environment Day to get more updates
42. Religious institutions such as churches, mosques and temples to include environmental messages in their sermons to their congregation.
43. Buy, promote and use food items grown or sourced using environmentally friendly practices
44. Develop appropriate documentaries and avail them online or broadcast them on TV or Radio
45. Visit the members of the community, explain the local environmental challenges and spend time with them improving the environment
46. Engage all your institutional stakeholders to dispose waste appropriately
47. Organize a beauty contest to promote environmental consciousness
48. Organize and publicize for participation in a non-motorized week/day for your institution and local community whereby people walk/cycle instead of driving. They could also use public instead of individual transport
49. Buy, promote and use green products that save energy, are recyclable, do not emit greenhouse gases, are not hazardous
50. Organize an environmental clinic/open day when experts assemble at a place, interact with members of the community and respond to any green economy related questions

Use of a branded truck to get awareness messages closer to the people

Mazingira Safi


In November 2015, the world community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be implemented by all stakeholders including government, civil society, private sector, media, development partners and learning institutions. These players are expected to innovatively address the 17 goals and 169 targets to make our world more peaceful and livable. Goal 4 requires stakeholders to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Target 4.7 reiterates that by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Environmental challenges are a major concern for all humanity. In this regard, everybody is a learner who require to be educated to enable…

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Most important one

The trinity comprise of the three persons
God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ
And the invisible Holy Spirit
The Holy Ghost is gentle
He is not any lesser than God the Father or Jesus

There are three things that bear witness in heaven (1John 5:7-8)
The trinity, and are never in competition
Never in conflict, but abide as one
In the beginning God created the earth
It was void and without form, a formless earth
The Holy Spirit moved over the formless earth

If we fail to acknowledge Him
Fail to recognize Him
Fail to invite and involve Him
Fail to allow Him to lead and guide us
We deny ourselves the Trinity’s power
Holy Spirit is the power of entire trinity
His absence means there is no power
Jesus promised, Holy Ghost is power (Acts 1:8)
Powers believers to witness Christ locally and globally

Close fellowship is demanded with the Holy Spirit
We are the generation of the Holy Spirit
Jesus said that after going away, He will ask the Father
To send us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter (John 14:16)
Jesus described the Holy Spirit as the most important
Jesus had to go, for the most important to come
The Holy Spirit came to take over

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit
…. to be tempted in the wilderness (Mathew 4:1)
He emerged victor
When Jesus was baptized in River Jordan, God spoke,
…. but Holy Spirit descended on Jesus (Mathew 3:16-17)
Jesus had not performed any miracle
…. before Holy Spirit came upon Him in river Jordan
Those guided by Holy Spirit do exploits

Whatever Jesus did, he was powered by the Holy Spirit
Our electronics are powered by unique systems
Smartphones are powered by Android, IOS, Microsoft etc
Holy Spirit powers the entire trinity
What powers you?

All prophets prophesied about Jesus
Jesus referred the Holy Spirit as most important
Its disastrous to regard the Holy Spirit as the least important
This is the generation of the Holy Spirit

John the Baptist praised Jesus
God praised Jesus
Many people praised Jesus,
Even blessed are the breasts that Jesus sucked (Luke 11:27)
Jesus praised the Holy Spirit

After Jesus left, His disciples were timid
Lived in fear, used to gather in a room
To avoid their Jewish persecutors
While gathered in the upper room
Tongues of Holy Spirit fire came upon them
Filled them with power, and city was bewildered
Peter, formerly timid, preached with courage
Thousands accepted salvation of Jesus Christ (Acts 2)

Those who make the Holy Spirit sad are in danger
God become their enemy and fights against them (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭63:10‬)
Whoever says evil things against the Holy Spirit
Is blasphemy, will never be forgiven
It’s committing an eternal sin (Mark‬ ‭3:29‬)
All sins can be forgiven but not blasphemy on the Holy Spirit

Additional input from Sermon by Pastor Aaron Mutebi of Miracle Centre, Entebbe, Uganda on 10th March 2017

Tree seedlings grow better in biodegradable bags

Kenyans are still coming to terms with the recent ban on production, importation and use of polythene bags that was imposed by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources on 28th February 2017. The ban is due to be effective after 6 months, that is on 28th August 2017. One of the sectors known to use many polythene bags is the growing of tree seedlings. Most tree nurseries nurture seedlings in polythene bags.

Owners of the seed beds have always argued that polythene bags have many advantages which include being cheap, readily available, easy to use and hold the water inside the bag reducing the need for regular watering, and hence reduction in water bills. The owners of tree nurseries however are not keen to mention the negative impact of the polythene bags such as visual pollution, littering, clogging of water drainage systems, death of livestock and wildlife through feeding on the bags, air pollution when bags are burnt and the health effects of carcinogenic furans and dioxins breathed in with the smoke.

Now that the ban is in place, it is crucial that we reflect on alternatives to the polythene bags for growing the tree seedlings. Alternatives in this case include bags made from natural fibres such as cotton, sisal, grasses, papyrus among others. Fortunately the skill to make the biodegradable bags is resident within communities. Hence with the enforcement of the polythene ban, it is expected that people in rural areas especially women will be contracted to supply these alternative bags. These bags have not been popular for this purpose because of the extensive preference of the polythene bag.

Biodegradable bags made through an industrial process are also expected to come in handy in tree nurseries. These bags are made of petrochemicals, though manufactured differently as compared to the normal polythene bags. Biodegradable bags are made to break down quickly in the presence of air and sunshine hence are labeled as oxydegradable or photodegradable respectively.

Other industrial biodegradable polythene bags could also be made from organic, renewable sources, such as vegetable oils, corn, and grains. Some biodegradable plastics/polythene bags are compostable and can decompose to create humus releasing valuable nutrients to the soil. There are many factories that manufacture biodegradable bags, and it is highly likely that there are shiploads of these bags in high seas heading to Kenya to service the gap created by the polythene bag ban.

A study done on biodegradable bags(see this link ) showed that they present more survival advantages to tree seedlings as compared to the polythene bag. It was noted that seedlings grown in biodegradable bags do not suffer the shock and disturbance experienced during the translocation of the seedlings. You are familiar with the process of planting a tree seedling that was grown in a polythene bag. The seedling must be removed from the polythene bag. During this process, in some cases, the soil gets disturbed, loosens and scatters and expose the roots. The seedling hence suffers some shock and this interferes with the rate of establishment of the seedling within the new environment. This is not the case with a seedling grown in biodegradable bags. There is no need to remove the seedling from the bag, just insert it into the prepared hole and bury the roots in the soil. After some time, the bag will wither and rot and the roots will establish themselves within the new environment.

Planting tree seedlings nurtured in polythene bags has been a challenge to many people. I remember one incident I visited a school in Kisumu County to monitor seedlings survival in a project sponsored by the Ministry of Environment dubbed “Green Schools Project”. One headteacher showed us a site they had planted over 500 tree seedlings but only about 20 were still surviving. When we enquired why the survival rate for the seedlings was very low, he responded that the school made a mistake of not removing the polythene bags when the seedlings were being replanted. Hence they planted the tree seedlings while still inside the polythene bag. The roots of these seedlings could not reach water and nutrients outside the bag and the trees were starved to death. As an educator, I was baffled since I had assumed that tree planting was an easy task. If an activity supervised by qualified teachers could accommodate such a mistake, what about the general public who are not highly educated?

It is therefore evident that the elimination of polythene bags would lead to enhanced survival of tree seedlings as well as reduced environmental pollution. The biodegradable bags bring forth numerous benefits and will contribute to reduction of wastage of our precious tree seedlings. This is a welcome gesture since the country is determined to increase her tree cover to 10% as prescribed in the Kenya Constitution 2010. Those dealing with tree nurseries should hence hurry up to embrace the alternative bags as the effective date for the ban is quickly approaching. All efforts should be made to prioritize locally made alternative bags as a way of supporting employment opportunities for the local people.


Muriuki J.K et al (2014) Testing Biodegradable Seedling Containers as an Alternative for Polythene Tubes in Tropical Small-Scale Tree Nurseries Small-scale Forestry: Volume 13, Issue 2 (2014), Page 127-142.

Polythene bags degrade innovation and culture

For those of us who grew in the village, visiting another home required planning. One needed an agenda to be tackled especially if its a home you don’t visit regularly. Hence there was sufficient reason for a visit. Not that people never used to interact, but a visitor was taken seriously. If one just wanted to interact, you could talk to each other over the fence or meet along the footpaths. Or even at the market place, local shopping centres or the watering point. But visit to homes was considered very honorable.

It was notable that home visits were also accompanied with exchange of gifts. A bottle of milk, a kilo of sugar, a packet of flour, sweet potatoes, cassava, arrowroots and maize cobs are among the items that were carried to the home to be visited. Normally these items were carried by women. The container used was normally a woven basket popularly known as ‘kiondo’.

In African culture, when you visit a home, generosity is extended, regardless of the economic status of the family visited. There was food and drink for visitors. This enabled community members to interact and bond more closely. The presentation of the gift was symbolic of the respect given to the home being visited and the planning done prior to the visit.

The end of the visit was characterized with more exchange of gifts. It was the turn of the home visited to return the ‘kiondo’ with something inside. One cannot return the ‘kiondo’ without a gift. The ‘kiondo’ was only used to carry the gift and is not given away to the home being visited. The person visited took the ‘kiondo’, emptied the contents, and filled it with different types of gifts in return. This was the fun of African culture.

What happened with the coming of the polythene bags? Normally, polythene bags are single use containers. The bag will carry the gift and since everybody knows its cheap, its normally retained with the gift. When the gift is unwrapped, the paper will be discarded away since it could even have gotten torn. In addition, nobody attaches a lot of value to the polythene bag, unlike the ‘kiondo’ which had to be returned to the owner.

Those who visit carrying gifts in polythene bags face a challenge of not committing the person visited to reciprocate with a gift. Some people give excuses that they have no containers to put the gift for the visitor. Culturally, the polythene bag is not considered as a suitable container that can compel for gift reciprocation.

Those young people who have grown during the era of polythene bags have missed this rich cultural heritage. They are used to one way traffic in gift exchange. Polythene bags denies people the opportunity to propagate this culture of gifts giving and reciprocating.

With the banning of the polythene bags in Kenya, it is expected that this rich cultural heritage will be revived. There will be more exchange of gifts, more interaction and bonding among communities. In addition, there will be reduced pollution to the natural environment.


Examinations, this man made yardstick
Determinant of cognitive retention
Demonstration of understanding
Also application of learnt staff

Listening to concepts and facts
From the ‘learned one’, the teacher
Tends enjoyable, especially if it tickles
With ones interests
But exercises to practice
Are a bit stressful

Come the exam time
The ‘learned one’ announces
That what’s learnt is enough
For the level entered
But it’s time for learners
To demonstrate, having learnt
Individually, in a timed period

Ambush is rare, but evident
Exam timetables diffuse ambush
Some questions uphold ambush
No matter how one prepares
Scoring excellent is rare
Ambush with concocted questions
Constitutes fun for the ‘learned one’

You ‘learned one’, the privileged one
With authority to ask questions
And only your questions matter
Why can’t you allow me to set
My questions and answer them?
Isn’t that a measure of learnt staff?
How comes it’s only your staff that matter?

You ‘learned one’, do you understand
The strain, stress, sleeplessness
Fatigue, uncertainty, eagerness
That accompany exam preparations?
To satisfy your secret questions?

You ‘learned one’, why ignore
That some have lost their mind
Relieved themselves on their clothes
Miscarried or being hospitalized
Due to exam anxiety?
Some people are ashamed
Of narratives of their reflex responses
That expose innate combat
That’s what your questions do

I thought exam anxiety is for higher classes
Till I met lower kindergarten pupils shaking
That exam is coming and are unprepared
I thought kindergarten staff was easy
That young ones do not suffer
From ‘learned ones’ exams
How mistaken I was

The narratives after examination
Expose barely the trickster-ism
Associated with examinations
Even simple questions look twisted
To confuse learners, or make them innovative?
To demonstrate understanding
And application of concepts
That’s the essence of education
To liberate and transform the mind

Yet if one fails to take the exams
The society judge them harshly
Consider them deficient of bargaining power
That certificate acquired after success in exams
Is loaded with social global power
To secure employment and contracts
It ascribes power and authority

So, is it wise to hate examinations?
Should abhorring them be promoted?
The best option is to conceal my position
The social system has entrenched it deeply
The only discussion entertained on this matter
Is improvement not discarding it
Generations prescribing to this social discourse
Must live with the pros and cons of it
Till a radical transformative alternative discourse
Takes root and prevails, as a better option

The robe

When we reach heaven, we shall give an account
Of our walk with Christ
The angels await the completion of the work of Christ
The world is full of people washed by the blood of Jesus
When we reach heaven, the heavenly beings will celebrate
The newcomers, redeemed people from earth

Zachariah 3:1-6
Earthly conceived righteousness is imperfect in the eyes of God
It’s filthy and unacceptable
Nobody can enter the holy place wearing filthy garments
Devil will always accuse us when we wear filthy garnets
They are a disruption to the heavenly party
Only those with heavenly garments of righteousness will survive

Mt 22:1
We have been invited to the banquet of Jesus Christ
The function is due any time, Jesus’s call is impromptu
Jesus is the owner and giver of the wedding gown
It cannot be counterfeited, designer is the Holy Spirit
All of us in the world wear the same gown
It is the one that brings us together, our identity

Colossians 3:12
Our earthly garments have special prescriptions on how to care for them
Even laundry cannot be done outside the prescriptions
When prescriptions are ignored, quality of the garments may deteriorate
Our robe of salvation requires special care,
Love, heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness,
Long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving each other

All Christians must posses the robe of righteousness
The robe cannot be given from any other source, only Jesus
We must allow Jesus to have his way in us and clothe us
Without the robe of righteousness, we’ll not enter heaven
But perish in eternal lake of fire with satan
Ever cry, gnash teeth in pain without peace forever

Kenya is ready with alternatives to polythene carrier bags

On 28th February 2017, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural resources issued the Gazette notice No. 2356, banning the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging. The Cabinet Secretary exercised powers conferred under section 3 and 86 of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA Cap 387). The gazette notice notified the public that this ban will take effect from 6th month from the date of the notice, that is from 28th August 2017 .

This ban on plastic bags has left many wondering what to do since plastic bags have been an intrinsic part of our day-to-day life, despite its adverse effects on the environment. The public is not aware on the alternatives that can be used when the plastic bags are withdrawn from use. But now that the ban is in force, the public is left with no option other than to choose appropriate alternatives to the polythene bag.

Getting an alternative for the polythene bag is not difficult. In our archives of indigenous practices when the polythene bag had not been invented, we used bags made from diverse materials to carry our goods. I wish to remind you of some of the alternatives to the polythene bag which you could consider as suitable options.

Canvas bags

Canvas is usually made of cotton or linen. Canvas is a durable plain-woven fabric used for making many items for which sturdiness is required. Items made from Canvas include sails, tents, marquees, backpacks and other items.

It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface whereby they stretch it across a wooden frame. Being easy to write on makes canvas a prefered option for those interested in advertising different products and services. Canvas bags carrying advertisements are normally given out for free by corporates and if this is not checked, it may lead to many of these durable bags being disposed to the environment. Hence it would be a good idea to sell the Canvas bags for a small fee to ensure that people do not have excess of them at their disposal.

Canvas fabric is popular in making bags that are durable. These bags can be of different varieties, shapes and sizes. Canvas fabric is thicker than plastic bags. It is easier for an individual to buy the fabric and
stitch personal customized canvas bags at home. Customization could be in regard to shape, size, colours and accessories.

With the ban in place, it is therefore possible to create hundreds and thousands of jobs from local tailors making canvas bags for the people. Being more durable than polythene bags implies that people will reuse the bags and hence reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Denim bags

Denim is a sturdy cotton used to make durable clothing for use in harsh environments such as mining and surveying. This clothing is popularly refereed to as “Jeans”. Our old and worn out jeans can be reused by making bags that are tear-resistant and extremely durable. Hence use of denim bags is another creative way to go green. Denim is appropriate since it stretches, flows and is easy to stitch, handle and clean.

With the plastic bag ban in place denim bags present another employment stream as the people have these old tear resistant clothes. Local tailors who are innovative will come in handy to develop all manner of Denim bags for use by Kenyans. The jobs created will be many and spread throughout the country.

Jute bags

Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Kenyan sisal plants have similar features and played a major economic role before the emergence of polythene bags. Jute bags are user friendly and can carry items to our place of work, to the market, shopping malls, grocery shop or even the beach. Communities have unique intricate weaving patterns and dyes which make these bags an admirable piece of art.

With the polythene bags ban in place, we expect that the sisal industry will be revamped. The demand for these fibres will lead to increased employment in sisal factories such as Vipingo in Kilifi. Areas that traditionally farmed the sisal plant may start farming of the same.

Its also expected that the popular Kenyan Kiondo will be revived. The women who have a weaving talent will have a new employment front to engage in. Hundreds of women groups throughout the country will be engaged in weaving Kiondo.

Paper bags

A paper bag is made out of paper. Paper bags are commonly used as shopping bags. They are eco-friendly, recyclable, foldable and easy to store. Although paper bags are not as strong as canvas or jute bags, they make an excellent alternative to plastic bags.

Paper bags are made from trees or other plants such as water hyacinth. Soft wood trees are used and are mainly grown in plantations. Those who justify the use of polythene bags argue against cutting of trees to make paper bags, which may increase carbon emissions by removing plants that absorb carbon dioxide gas.

Implementation of the recent polythene ban is likely to create jobs in those industries involved in paper manufacturing such as Pan-Paper Mills in Western Kenya. Farmers may also opt to grow the soft wood used for making paper and this may provide additional livelihood.

Water hyacinth bags

Water hyacinth contains fibre that is used to make diverse items including bags. Innovative artisans make the bags in various hues and styles, sometimes even with leather additions.

Kenya has over 10,000 hectares of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria. Water hyacinth has also invaded other wetlands. Hence Kenya has substantial supply of water hyacinth which could be used to make bags as alternatives for the polythene bags.

With the implementation of the polythene bag, we expect increased demand for the hyacinth bags. This will create jobs for the youth and women groups in different parts of the country. There are currently many individuals and groups involved in making water hyacinth bags especially around Lake Victoria and we expect them to have booming business.

Crochet bags

Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook.

Crocheting is a skill that many Kenyans have mastered. Crochet bags are easy to make and cheap. All that the people need is some wool and a crochet needle. Hence many Kenyans can creatively make their own bag. This creativity has not been tapped since presence of polythene bags have reduced the demand for the crochet bags.

Implementation of the polythene bag ban will rekindle this innovative industry and many people of all ages will get livelihood opportunities.


The discussion above clearly demonstrate that Kenya has ready alternatives for the polythene bags that have been banned. These alternatives make use of the indigenous knowledge and practices resident in the Kenyan people.

The players in the plastic sector have argued that implementation of the polythene bags ban will lead to loss of jobs for Kenyans. However, one would wonder where these jobs are resident and how many people are involved. My opinion is that the jobs are resident in cities where the polythene manufacturers operate and involve very few people. It is evident from the discussion on the alternatives above that there will be more job opportunities created which will be spread to Kenyans of all ages throughout the country. Hence going for the alternatives to polythene bags is a better option for Kenya in terms of job opportunities and benefits to the environment.

Sandwich in cloth wrapper is fancier than in polythene bag

Kenya has banned use of polythene carrier bags. It is important to note that the carrier bags are of different sizes and their uses vary. For instance, most of us carry sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. normally, the easy way to carry the sandwich is by use of a polythene bag, normally the flimsies.

Unfortunately, most of us harbour littering values. The moment one is done with the sandwich, there is no care where the polythene bag ends. Its thrown anywhere, after all the County Government cleaners will clear that mess. Imagine in a school with 1000 students, how many polythene bags are thrown to the environment? And for a county like Nairobi with over 500 schools, this waste could be overwhelming.

From 28th August 2017, the polythene carrier bags and wrappers will be no more. How will you carry your sandwich hygienically?

The sandwich cloth wrapper is an ideal alternative to the polythene bag. It is made of cloth that is a readily available material and is reusable. The wrapper comes in different shapes and sizes. Surprisingly it can serve as a food mat when spread and as a food wrapper when folded.

The polythene bags manufacturers have complained of loss of jobs when the recently published polythene bags ban is implemented. But we need to appreciate that a new economic front is being opened up to innovatively replace the polythene bag. Making of the sandwich wrap can employ equally many people as the polythene carrier bags sector. This comes with new innovative designs that will attract new skills from Kenyans.

Surely, why should we hinder eco-friendly innovations from Kenyans that also rid our country of the polythene bags menace? Imagine the many colors and designs of sandwich wrappers that will hit the Kenyan market when the ban is implemented. I am very anxious to see these innovations and the thousands of new jobs that will be created.

Kenya free of polythene bags is possible

The world produces about five trillion plastic bags every year. Globally, every second 160, 000 plastic bags are used. In Kenya we use 24 million of these otherwise called carry-home bags every month. Of all the plastic the world consumes, only one to three percent of it is recycled. Plastic is here to stay; it is not bio-degradable. It takes around 700 years for the material to start breaking up, and even then it does not decompose or degrade to be absorbed by nature; it photo-grades(breaks up into little toxic bits of itself)
Plastic bags came into being in the 1960s and were introduced in the American supermarkets in the 70s with the rest of the world taking cue there on. The bags are convenient to use; they are light, cheap to manufacture and resistant to degradation. Nevertheless, these same properties have contributed to the proliferation of the bags in the environment posing a big challenge to solid waste management. But are we better off without these carriers?
A 2005 research by NEMA revealed that there were then 176 plastic manufacturing companies in Kenya worth Ksh. 88 billion and providing 60,000 jobs. The plastic products—most of which are plastic bags—churned out for our use by this industry end up permanently in the environment; they do not decompose. One major resultant effect of the bags’ nature is clogging of drainage systems: This causes flooding and formation of puddles that provide bleeding grounds for mosquitoes and consequently malaria—that according to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation kills 30,000 people annually. When ingested by animals, plastic bags cause their eventual death; burning the bags releases toxic fumes that have been associated with various types of cancer while if thrown away—which is a common practice—the bags litter our landscape.
We need to check the manufacture and usage of plastic bags.
To echo the late Professor Wangari Maathai, “The plastic bags we have in Kenya are so flimsy that millions of them only get used once before being thrown away, you see them in the trees, in the hedges and on the ground…” Kenya banned the manufacture, import and use of polythene carrier bags on 28th February 2017 in order to protect the environment.
The ban is a follow-up of extensive consultations with the stakeholders in the plastic sector. Earlier in 2007, a ban was imposed to check plastics below 30 microns.
The onus to reduce—if not eradicate—use of plastic bags in our country is on all of us. The world is going green and the route there starts at eliminating the substances that pollute our environment-plastic bags being among the most obnoxious. At the individual level, we need to reduce the dependence on these bags to “carry stuff” home. We should reuse the ones we already have when we go shopping and seek environment-friendly carriers such as cotton cloth bags, paper bags, canvas bags, sisal bags, papyrus bags and buyers/shoppers own shopping bags.
The penalty for breach of this ban is stipulated under Section 144 of the Environmental Management and Cordination Act Cap 387, which is imprisonment for a term of not less than one (1) year but not more than four (4) years or a fine of not less than 2 Million but not more than 4 Million or to both such fine and imprisonment.

It’s about Jesus Christ


The gospel is not about us, but Jesus Christ
Preachers and believers only proclaim Christ
Salvation cannot be found anywhere else, but in Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:1-7)
Jesus Christ is the image of our invisible, living God
He died for us, carried our sins away
Eternal life hinge on the blood of Christ
No one can get eternal life but through Jesus

We are Christ servants
Our mandate is to tell others about the love of Christ
Telling people what He is capable of doing
We should not commend ourselves but Jesus Christ
We do not take pride about the many followers
All power and honor belong to Christ
When we uphold His name, He pulls many to Himself

Jesus was there from the beginning
Jesus knew his roadmap and milestones to save the world
Jesus sat in the heavenly panel that decided to create man
He knew man would sin, that the devil was there
When man was made, rulership was given to him, not to satan
We must therefore give honor to Christ
He is the only hope for sinners

Satan wants to separate us from God
The God we know and believe in
So that God could leave us and satan would have his way
Jesus is the way to heaven
He is the bridge connecting us to God
We cannot reach heaven if not through him

Great names are given to some people on earth,
Great earthly names are inconsequential without Jesus
There is no other name above that of Jesus (Phil 2:9)
You need Jesus to make your name great
We need Jesus more than anything else

Believe in your heart, confess with your mouth and you will be saved
Confession is about Jesus and what he is able to do
We need to call His name when in need of anything
The blind will see, deaf will hear, sick will be healed, sinners will be saved
We need to speak about Jesus in everything we do, as our first action
We alone cannot make it,
With Jesus everything is possible

Music for the environment


Music has been with us since time immemorial. Indeed, music is regarded as food for the soul. Both elderly and young people are actively involved in Music development and performance. Most functions where people gather is spiced up with music, and people may participate actively through dancing physically or just listen to the lyrics.

Music is a strong tool for promoting public participation in socioeconomic development and environmental management. Music provide opportunities for people to express their ideas and views about the environment, examine and interpret the environment from an aesthetic perspective. This makes them to become aware of and curious about the environment and acts as motivation to participate actively in resolving environmental problems.

Music is rich in communicative power for environmental messages to billions of people worldwide irrespective of race, religion, income, gender or age. It can assist people in learning many things such as the alphabet, grammar, learning about environmental processes such as natural cycles, ecosystems and environmental changes by examining songs of different ages. Music can be used to help people learn about pollution and recycling through making musical instruments using waste paper, cans and glass. People also express their feelings about various developments in the environment and their future environmental aspirations using music.

Music presents an opportunity to analyse phenomena and represents analytical documents through information provided in lyrics. The lyrics have the potential to be used as a source of geographic and historical evidence.

Music can help in popularising environmental information. The people are involved in writing music on many aspects of the environment as perceived by different cultures. People can also explore songs related to the environment that are still in use or were used by the community and this gives environmental education using Music an interesting historical approach. The prescribed activities look open and can accommodate a variety of ideas depending on learner and educator ingenuity.

Despite its worthiness, music also has negative effects on the environment in terms of being a consumer of rare timbers, a source of pollution (noise) and a weapon of psychological warfare. Forests of indigenous and exotic hardwoods are unable to keep up with the ever-growing demand for this type of wood and the illegal trade of these materials associated with increased demand and supply gap. In this regard, all efforts should be made to minimize these negative aspects of music.

To harness the power of Music in communicating environmental issues, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA – Kenya) has partnered with the National Music Festival of the Ministry of Education to promote development and performance of music with environmental messages. This partnership has now run for two years (2015 and 2016) and learners from basic and tertiary institutions have competed at school, sub-county, county and national level. NEMA sponsors the environmental category and for the last two years have been running a theme on waste management.

NEMA is keen to continue sponsoring this initiative in the coming years since we still have many environmental challenges affecting our country which need to be communicated to Kenyans innovatively.

So far several achievements have been made including the following
1. Composition and performance of music with environmental messages at every corner of Kenya where schools are located.
2. Increased levels of awareness on waste management issues
3. The award winning music pieces have been performed to high level leaders including H.E The President of Kenya and this is high level lobbying for attention on environmental issues.

We hope that the quality of songs with environmental messages will be up scaled and form part of Kenya’s best music hits by our celebrities. The ultimate climax is to have music influencing all of us to participate in delivering and safeguarding a clean and healthy environment as enshrined in Article 42 of the Kenyan Constitution.

Use of a branded truck to get awareness messages closer to the people


In November 2015, the world community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be implemented by all stakeholders including government, civil society, private sector, media, development partners and learning institutions. These players are expected to innovatively address the 17 goals and 169 targets to make our world more peaceful and livable. Goal 4 requires stakeholders to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Target 4.7 reiterates that by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Environmental challenges are a major concern for all humanity. In this regard, everybody is a learner who require to be educated to enable participation in environmental management. Environmental challenges are context specific and hence vary from place to place. The population needs contextualized knowledge, skills and relationships to enhance sustainable pursuit of development. The context in this regard informs the kind of intervention and education required to steer behavior change for sustainable development.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has prioritized implementation of initiatives on solid waste management this financial year. The initiatives include ensuring the public dispose their waste appropriately, and creating awareness on the same using diverse approaches. One of the awareness approaches that has been utilized is use of a branded truck.


A branded truck is a vehicle (normally a lorry) fitted with a powerful sound equipment including choice of appropriate music, and this truck moves from place to place attracting people with its noise. The noise comprise of choicest music and interludes of awareness messages on solid waste management.


The truck also has other accompaniments to the loud sound. The outer body is branded with solid awareness messages comprising of choicest photos or illustrations on waste management and appropriately crafted messages. Before the public hears the oral presentations, those who can read are already captured into the written messages and pictorials. Wherever the truck passes, the branding on the body with awareness messages serve as a mobile learning space on diverse solid waste management approaches. The diverse mix of colors serves to attract public attention to the vehicle. This approach has proved to be quite effective in raising public awareness in an abortion campaign done in the United States of America (Salladay, R., 2001)


Another crucial accompaniment of the branded truck are artists, mainly youths or prominent presenters. These artists are chosen due to proven prowess in capability to deliver captivating public utterances, or performing unique robotic gymnastics that attract the crowd. Thus as the truck moves around, the public cannot avoid being attracted to performances and funny utterances by the reknown or celebrated artists who facilitate the awareness creation drive.


To motivate public participation, the awareness team provide several gifts to people who have done well in waste management. For instance, a shopkeeper with a dustbin outside his/her premises may be given a T-shirt in addition to the announcement that he/she demonstrates good practice. Answering a question by a member of the public may also be rewarded with a hand bungle or a book or another awareness material on waste management. These goodies act as a motivator for demonstration of best environmental practices. Since the truck could move from place to place, it introduces the institution involved or concept being promoted to remote areas.


One may wonder why use of branded trucks and awareness caravans are crucial in reaching out to the public. There are several reasons why this approach is unique and include the following:-

1. The mobile truck can reach members of the public in places where educators could not have reached using conventional methods.


2. The innovative mix of loud sound, music, reknown artists and acrobatics makes the approach very appealing to members of the public and helps to capture their attention for some considerable time for environmental messages to be shared with them.


3. The approach encourages public debate on pertinent sustainable development challenges since the artists engage the public in an innovative way.


4. The use of small handouts such as Tshirts, bungles, and books with environmental messages among others serves as a motivator for the public to participate in the debate. Winning a prize regardless of its value is memorable to the participant as well as a psychological enrichment.


Moving ahead and reflecting on success made so far, NEMA wishes to upscale use of this approach to raise awareness on diverse environmental issues. The Kenyan counties could also pick up this innovation since they have a bigger role to play on environmental issues such as waste management and prevention of noise pollution.


Salladay, R., (2001) Abortion foes plan a convoy campaign Pictures of fetuses displayed on trucks, San Francisco Chronicle, November 24, 2001. Downloaded at on 27th November 2016.

Framework for implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Kenya



The Government of Kenya is committed to promoting interventions on sustainable development in line with various global and regional frameworks. The country endorsed and adopted Agenda 21 that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UN, 1992). The UNCED recognised that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) re-affirmed the objectives of the UNCED and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Further emphasis on need for enhancing interventions was reiterated during the World Summit on Sustainable Development which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 which gave rise to a roadmap document referred to as “The Future we Want”.

In 2015, the global community adopted Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out ambitious goals and targets shaping operations of all institutions from 2016 onwards. This agenda is now a global moral compass in the 21st century, a policy blueprint outlining a pathway to sustainable livelihoods, inclusive societies and sustainable environments (Walsh, 2016). The 2030 Agenda comprises of a universal set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 Targets to end poverty in all of its forms, in all nations by 2030. The natural environment underlies each of those ambitions. According to UNEP, all the 17 SDGs have an environmental dimension (see

Kenya has domesticated global frameworks and conventions that support Sustainable Development into its Constitution and other legislation. Kenya promulgated her Constitution in 2010 and Article 10 describes sustainable development as a national value. Further, Article 42 and 69 makes it an obligation for the government and the citizens to protect the environment. In addition, Article 53 entitles every child with a right to free and compulsory education.The adoption of SDGs gave impetus to Kenya’s engagement with the need to actualize SD as a national goal. To this end diverse legislation and policies have been enacted to spearhead realization of sustainable development.

In order for the country to achieve SDGs, the Government has developed a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) to support development efforts towards addressing key challenges such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change and variability, infrastructure gaps and food security among others. In addition Kenya’s Vision 2030 is the government’s principal document guiding socio-economic and political development. Vision 2030 document aspires to revitalize the country’s economic growth through harnessing of its natural resources. Education is identified as a key driver under the social pillar. The inspiration was to have an ESD policy developed and all education interventions reoriented to address ESD. Vision 2030 and GESIP have identified ESD as an effective strategy for building capacities to undertake a transition to a green economy in Kenya.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act, Cap 387 is a framework law that provides for effective coordination and regulation of all actions that have a direct influence on the environment. Section 42 (4) of the Basic Education Act stipulates that ‘the Cabinet Secretary of Education shall upon advice of the National Education Board advise the government on the promotion of environmental protection education for sustainable development’.

The 2013-2018 National Education Sector Plan (NESP) provides a strategy for education and training to promote ESD with reference to the Global Action Programme. Sessional Paper No. 2 of 2015 on Reforming Education and Training in Kenya envisages a curriculum that is competence-based to foster quality education in the country (Republic of Kenya, 2015). Through this policy, the Ministry of Education is committed to promoting ESD as a key element to enable sustainable development and quality education.

ESD activities in Kenya have been implemented within an overall framework of the UN Decade of ESD (2005-2014) and the Kenya ESD Implementation Strategy (2008). The ESD Implementation Strategy has guided ESD interventions through eight interlinked strategies of advocacy and vision building, consultation and ownership, partnership and networks, capacity building and training, research and innovation, use of ICT, monitoring and evaluation, and Regional Centres of Expertise (Republic of Kenya, 2008). Further, the country has developed a national ESD policy (Sessional Paper No. 11 of 2014 on National Education for Sustainable Development Policy) spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The policy provides mechanisms for engaging all stakeholders in addressing sustainable development challenges through education.

Kenyas engagement with SDGs

Kenya’s Public sector engages with SDGs as a directive from the Central Government through mandatory Performance Contracting. The Kenya Gazette Notice Number 2431 and Legal Notice Number 93 of August 2004 set regulations and performance contracting in public service and State Corporations in Kenya. All public sector executives are obligated to sign performance contracts with the central government. Implementation of SDGs is managed by two institutions namely the 1) Ministry of Devolution and Planning and 2) the National Environment Management Authority. Each institution is expected to report to NEMA and Ministry of Devolution and Planning simultaneously. There are many similarities in demands from both institutions. However it is critical to note that NEMA’s process has a lot of bias on addressing Environmental Sustainability issues while the Ministry of Devolution process is more broader and include social and economic aspects which may have escaped NEMA’s interest.

A. Ministry of Devolution and Planning

The Performance contracting guidelines provide that all Public Institutions implement the SDGs and report to Ministry of Devolution and Planning (RoK, 2016). These institutions are advised to:-
– Identify SDGs relevant to their mandate
– Carry out awareness creation on relevant SDGs
– Integrate the relevant SDGs in respective Ministry, Department and Agency’s (MDA’s) Policy and Development Plans
– Submit Quarterly reports to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning

These expectations imply that Kenya takes implementation of SDGs seriously and has cascaded their implementation to diverse institutions. These institutions will be in a position to implement all the SDGs since their collective interventions spread over all aspects of SDGs.

B. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)

One of the targets the public institutions are expected to meet through performance contracting is environmental sustainability. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is tasked with the responsibility of elaborating what this target entails. NEMA has since 2012 defined and clarified this target, and has identified 6 areas that should be addressed including:-

1. Sustainability planning
2. Pollution control
3. Climate change
4. Environmental Ecological enhancement
5. Environmental Education and awareness
6. Promoting partnerships

NEMA has further explained the steps to be taken by the institutions as they implement Sustainability targets above. Figure 1 summarizes the process of engagement with public sector institutions in engaging on sustainability targets.


Figure 1 shows that implementation of PC targets is systemic and proactive. It starts with the establishment of the Institutional Sustainability Committee who guide the entire process. The committee is expected to spearhead development of the Institutional Sustainability Policy, undertaking of annual sustainability audits, development of sustainability workplans and implementation of the same. In addition, the committee is expected to ensure quarterly progress reports are submitted to NEMA. NEMA in return reviews the reports and gives feedback to the institutions every quarter. At the end of each Financial year, NEMA assesses each institution’s quarterly submissions relative to the sustainability policy, annual audits and the annual workplan and awards a score to the institution. This score is forwarded to the Executive Office of the President as part of the overall national performance Contract Assessment and forms part of the basis for rewards and sanctions for the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors for the particular institution.

Further elaboration of Environmental Sustainability activities

The National Environment Management Authority has provided a detailed explanation of the kind of activities that public institutions should engage with to promote environmental sustainability. Explanation of expectations from the 6 areas is as explained below.

1. Environmental sustainability planning

Any sustainability intervention needs to be planned for. Sustainability challenges are contextual and vary spatial-temporary. Institutions also are endowed differently and hence need to identify their sustainability challenges, prioritize them, including their interventions. Hence NEMA has elaborated implementation of environmental sustainability planning into several levels.

a) Development of an institutional environmental policy

Under this requirement, all institutions are expected to develop an institutional environmental sustainability policy which outlines the institution’s intent to address sustainability issues based on local contextual challenges. This document is expected to be developed by the institutional experts and to undergo relevant approvals such as by the Senior Management and the non-executive Board or Council as is appropriate. In case of Ministries, the Environmental Sustainability policy is expected to be approved by the Principal Secretary. The policy document and proof of relevant approvals is expected to be presented to NEMA as evidence of appropriate engagement of top management and hence assurance of buy in by the institutions. The appropriate approvals suggests that the policy has high probability of getting implemented.

b) Undertake Environmental Sustainability Audit

Each institution is expected to kick off environmental sustainability engagement by undertaking an audit to determine baselines of current sustainability position. Institutions are expected to identify sustainability issues relevant to them and determine the levels of diverse parameters. For instance on water issues, the institution will determine how much water is received and account for its use including any leakages. The same applies for energy, waste management, and transport among others. This audit is expected to illuminate gaps to be addressed to enhance sustainability. This audit is conducted every year to show progress towards sustainability.

c) Appointment of a Sustainability Committee

Every institution is expected to appoint a team to guide sustainability interventions. The team is expected to demonstrate diversity of competencies such as water audit, energy audit, waste audit, cost benefit analysis among others. The committee is expected to meet regularly to deliberate on implementation of sustainability interventions. NEMA requires the minutes of these meetings as evidence of proactive engagement.

d) Adopting environment as a core value in the Service Charter

All public institutions in Kenya have a Citizen Service Charter. Inclusion of environmental conservation as a core value suggests the level of commitment by the institution to make sure that all staff are oriented towards sustainable development at all times.

e) Providing information when requested to by NEMA

EMCA Cap 387 mandates NEMA to request for information from any institution for the purpose of preparation of State of Environment (SOE) reports and Environment Actions Plan (EAPs).

2. Pollution Control

The emphasis of this theme entails demonstrating compliance to different environmental regulations. Kenya has enacted numerous environmental regulations to promote sustainable development.

a) Compliance to Waste management regulations, 2006 involves undertaking interventions such as
– The concept of 3R which entails reducing, reusing, and recycling of waste in the respective institutions
– Proof of proper disposal of solid waste, air conditioners, asbestos and E-waste among others as further explained in the Procurement and Disposal Act 2015
– Installation of waste segregation bins

b) Under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Audit Regulations (2003) Institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Proof of undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments for new policies, programs and plans
– Proof of undertaking Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for new projects
– Proof of submission of comments during EIA review (when requested to by NEMA)
– Submission of annual environmental audit reports

c) Under Noise and Excessive Vibrations Regulations (2008) institutions are expected to demonstrate
measures to minimize noise and excessive vibrations

d) Under Air Quality Regulations, institutions are expected to demonstrate measures to reduce air pollution including Green House Gases (GHGs)

d) Under Water Quality Regulations (2006), institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Measures to minimize release of waste water to the environment
– Proper disposal of waste water

3. Climate Change mitigation and adaptation

The Climate change Act (2016) mandates NEMA to undertake several activities on behalf of the National Climate Change Council. These roles forms part of the tasks included in the perormance contracts of public institutions and include

(a) monitor, investigate and report on whether public and private entities are in compliance with the climate change duties assigned by the National Climate Change Council;
(b) ascertain that private entities are in conformity with instructions given by the Council
(c) regulate, enforce and monitor compliance on levels of greenhouse gas emissions as set by the Council
(d) NEMA shall, annually, report to the Council on the performance of functions under the Climate Change Act 2016, and such report shall form part of the report by the Council to the National Assembly.

Under this aspect, climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives for institutions include:-
– Installation of energy saving devices, renewable energy, water harvesting,
– Proof of measures to control green house gases
– Proof of mitigation and adaptation initiatives
– Development of green buildings, adopting green operations
– Compliance to Controlled substances regulations, 2007 with regard to importation, use and disposal of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

4. Environmental Ecological enhancement
Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Compliance to the Conservation of biological diversity, access and benefit sharing regulations, 2006
– Proof of authority or permit to access genetic resources
– Proof of benefit sharing arrangements on utilization of biological and genetic resources with local communities
– Compliance to Wetlands, River banks, lakeshores, and seashore management regulations, 2009
– Submission of EIA reports for new projects where applicable
– Submission of annual Environmental Audit reports
– Development and implementation of environmental management plans for forests, wetlands, coastal zone, and environment significant areas among others

5. Environmental Education and awareness

Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Proof of behavior change among staff
– Sensitization of staff and public on Environmental sustainability relevant to the institutional mandate
– Participation in environmental events with communities and schools
– Recognition of environmental champions

6 Partnerships

Under this aspect, institutions are expected to demonstrate
– Environmental projects and activities undertaken through partnership with stakeholders
– Memorandum of understanding with their partners
– Joint management plans
– Corporate social responsibility (CSR) on environment
– Proof of Partnerships with NEMA on Monitoring and inspections to ensure compliance with environment legislation

Cooperative analysis of extent of coverage of SDGs using the Environmental sustainability targets

The coverage of SDGs through the sustainability targets is as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Coverage of SDGs through the 6 Sustainability Targets proposed by NEMA for public institutions


Table 1 shows that the NEMA managed Sustainability Targets for Public Institutions covers all the 17 SDGs. Hence NEMA as an institution is on the forefront in championing for SDGs in Kenya through the Mandatory PC Sustainability Targets. The process of engagement of the public institutions ensures that there is proactive engagement and consistent guidance by NEMA to ensure upscaling of realization of SDGs.

Role of Regional Centres of Expertise in promoting realization of SDGs

An RCE is not a center in a traditional sense but a network of existing formal, non-formal and informal education organizations, mobilized to deliver education for sustainable development (ESD) to local and regional communities (UNU, 2002). RCEs aspire to achieve the aspirations of Sustainable Development by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate. An RCE involves diverse stakeholders including school teachers, professors at higher education institutions, environmental NGOs, scientists, researchers, museums, zoos, botanical gardens, local government officials, representatives of local enterprises, volunteers, media, civic associations or individuals who work in the spheres of sustainable development such as economic growth, social development, and environmental protection, students and learners at all levels (UNU, 2002).

Kenyan RCEs are hosted in universities most of which are players in performance contracting arrangement of the Central Government. NEMA coordinates the activities of RCEs in Kenya and helps to bring institutions together to establish an RCE. Kenya currently has 9 RCEs acknowledged by the United Nations University (UNU). These RCEs operate in different regions of the country. The list of Kenyan RCEs is provided below.

1. RCE Greater Nairobi Region hosted by Kenyatta University
2. RCE Mau Complex hosted by Egerton University
3. RCE Kakamega Western Kenya hosted by Masinde Muliro University
4. RCE Nyanza hosted by Maseno University
5. RCE Greater Pwani hosted by Pwani University
6. RCE North Rift Valley hosted by University of Eldoret
7. RCE Maasai Mara hosted by Maasai Mara University
8. RCE Central Kenya hosted by Kimathi University
9. RCE Upper Eastern hosted by Kenya Methodist University

Further, these 9 RCEs have established a National Network dubbed “Kenya National Network of RCEs” and have their own governance system including elected leaders. The coordinators of the network hold a meeting every year and a national conference where innovations from diverse RCEs are shared with members of the public. NEMA also assists each RCE to hold mobilization meetings to recruit more members, share experiences and to plan together.

RCEs create a local/regional knowledge base to support ESD actors, and promote four major goals of ESD in a resource-effective manner. They can champion ESD programs tailored to address SDG issues and local context of the community in which they operate. Universities being hosts, coordinators and key members of RCEs, must work closely with the local communities.

RCEs also play a role in increasing access to quality education that is most needed in the regional context as well as deliver trainers’ training programs especially on SDGs. This also entail development of methodologies and SDG learning materials for use by the trainers. RCEs should also lead advocacy and awareness raising efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of SDGs and essential role of ESD in achieving a sustainable future. This will promote the long-term goals of ESD such as environmental stewardship, social justice, and improvement of the quality of life (UNU, 2002).

An RCE is characterized by a well-defined system of governance and management with an emphasis on enhancing collaborative partnerships and an inclusion of a research component in its activities. The four issues of governance, collaboration, research and development and transformative education are the core elements of RCEs and the way they are addressed determines the success of RCEs contribution to promotion of SDGs.


Republic of Kenya (2016) Guidance for preparing the 13th Cycle (FY 2016/2017)Performance Contracts. The Presidency, Nairobi.

United Nations Environment Assembly (Undated) The Environmental dimensions of SDGs. Downloaded on 22nd November 2016 from

UNU, (2002).Regional Centers of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from

Walsh, P.P., (2016) Implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in Ireland: A Case for Hybrid Sustainable Development Parliamentary Committees. Irish Studies in International Affairs, pp. 1-11

What next for climate change?


Climate change is a major challenge in our time. Debate on this challenge has attracted international attention and high level Conference of Parties (COP) meetings have been held annually. This international political response to climate change began in 1992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted. UNFCCC serves as the legal framework binding countries to take action to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid harmful anthropogenic interference with the climate system. UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994 and has been embraced by 197 parties.

To facilitate realization of UNFCCC, parties also developed the Kyoto Protocol which was adopted in December 1997, during COP 3 held in Kyoto, Japan. This protocol to the UNFCCC committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets. These countries, also referred to as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six green house gases (GHGs) by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (the first commitment period). However, specific targets varied from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol became operational in on 16 February 2005 and has been embraced by 192 parties. However, implementation of Kyoto protocol have faced some challenges since 2012 as many countries did not want to continue with legally binding commitments. Hence intense political negotiations have been going on with each country presenting her suited model interventions for addressing climate change, and these have been debated at length and some consensus framework has been been reached.

In December 2015, at COP 21 in Paris, France, parties agreed to the Paris Agreement that requires countries to assess their emissions and how to reduce them and to document the same as “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs). The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and has been ratified by over 110 parties out of the 193 signatories as of 6 November 2016. The Paris Agreement demands that countries make their targets in NDCs ambitious and commit themselves to implement their interventions progressively over time. Countries are expected to report their contributions every five years and to register this with the UNFCCC Secretariat. The aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years in a global stocktake.

It must however be noted that the targets set in NDCs are not legally binding or obligatory. There is also no enforcement mechanism in place. Implementation of NDCs can hence be considered as more voluntary and the enforcement mechanism for those who do not comply as expected could be that of “name and shame” or “name and encourage”. There are no legally binding consequences if countries fail to meet their NDC commitments. No wonder we have seen many countries easily signing into the Paris Agreement as it doesn’t present major risks to the country in case of non-compliance. This arrangement is able to rope in all countries unlike the Kyoto Protocol that only demanded emission reductions from Annex 1 countries. Hence we expect that countries will engage in friendly discussions encouraging each other to cooperate for success of the Paris Agreement. However, the political statements so far have strongly indicated that countries are committed to the Paris Agreement and ensuring that global temperature rise does not exceed 1.5 degrees centigrade.

The world climate change negotiators and leaders have been meeting in Marrakesh Morocco for COP 22 between 7th – 18th November 2016. Being the first COP after coming into force of the Paris Agreement, this meeting is very significant as it sets pace on how to deal with climate change utilizing non-legally binding instruments. The uniqueness of the Paris Agreement is that it applies a “bottom up” approach and the total contributions from all countries will be assessed in 2023 to provide the global scenario of GHG reductions upon which further decisions will be made for inclusion in the 2nd NDC committments.

At the Marrakesh COP 22 meeting, leaders have stressed the need for enhanced investment in forestry, land use, land management, water management, agriculture, food security, oceans, greening of cities, and clean energy among others. All leaders including the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon reiterated the need for enhanced funding to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

It is hence evident that the Paris Agreement is slowly getting contextualized within national and local levels. It is anticipated that the levels of GHGs will progressively reduce, and this will mark as an assurance that the global community could address any challenge if they all commit to individual contributions. Our success will be a pillar of hope for a safer planet and sustainability of present and future generations.