welcome all

Its my pleasure as the editor of the Parklands green initiative blog to welcome you all to this new,exciting and responsible venture. as we set out in our endeavor to make a better this world a better place than we found it, as B. Powell said. thank you all and welcome for the experience.

Climate Change and Arab Spring

We have all heard of climate change, either along the absolute denials on whether it is even occurring or the apocalyptic scenarios. At this stage, it is an irrefutable fact that climate change is occurring on a global scale, with the effects being experienced everywhere. Ranging from negative effects such as desertification, rising sea levels and numerous others to the occasional positive one such as the warming up of the temperate regions.  The causes have been hotly debated in various forums and by people who are more qualified academically and practically to discourse on the matter than the author of this article. Climate change has been charged with many numerous and insidious effects on the planet and human affairs in general, but how far-reaching are these effects? The economic, social and political structures. In this article, we shall explore the proposition that climate change can lead to massive political upheavals and specifically if climate change could have caused Arab Spring. Arab Spring is the widespread revolutions and protests that have rocked that Arab world.

There has been a wave of protests, riots and armed conflicts that has swept through the Arab world beginning on 18th December 2010 continuing to present day, with various revolutions accompanied by toppled governments and civil wars resulting from the Arab Spring. The following countries has their governments kicked out; Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt who kicked out two consecutive governments. Syria and Bahrain had major civil uprisings with the Syrian one presently considered a civil war. Riots have broken out in Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan, Morocco and Algeria with minor protests occurring in other Arab countries.

Arab Spring has  undoubtedly been motivated by mainly political reasons, to topple the tyrannical governments. The desire for freedom and recognizance of the right of the people seems to be the main drive behind the violence. In addition, the rampant economic problems afflicting the Arab world also played a key role in the uprisings. Unemployment, rising cost of living among many other led to the frustration of the people being taken out on their government.

Nonetheless, this article hopes to demonstrate a correlation if not causation between the Arab Spring and Climate change. To fully extrapolate on this issue, the article will attempt to show how the effect of climate on the global wheat production might have led to Arab Spring. It is important to note at this point that this article does not authoritatively state that Climate change led to global warming rather explore that as a possibility.

In 2010, the world’s wheat harvest was affected drastically by changing weather patterns that resulted in supply shortages globally. The changes seemed to have affected the main exporters of wheat globally. Cold and rainy weather in Canada – A drop in the harvest by 13.7 percent, Heat waves, Droughts and fires in Russia and Ukraine – A drop in the harvest by 32.7 percent and 19.3 percent respectively, Excessive rains in Australia – A drop in the harvest by 8.7 percent and to top it up Chinese consumption of wheat rose by 1.68 percent while their harvest dropped by 0.5 percent.

To be continued next week…..

By Muiruri Wanyoike

Chairperson

Parklands Greens

images (1)

HANGING TO DRY, THE MURKY WATERS OF THE NILE.

IN THE BEGINING THERE WAS THE NILE, THEN ALONG CAME DISASTER. How did the Nile go from sustenance of the Horn of Africa to a poisoned chalice that threatens to unravel the fate of nine nations? Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are all joined at the hip by the Nile. Instead of the tie being beneficial, in recent times two camps have emerged. Lead by Egypt, the conservatives want the usage of the Nile to be left as it has always been. Any attempt to renegotiate a myriad of colonial treaties that grant Egypt and Sudan the crocodile share of the waters of the Nile is a declaration of war. The status quo has to remain untouched. Such a view by the lower riparian states is viewed dimly by the rest. Led by Ethiopia, upper riparian states wish to have a piece of the cake baked in the Nile. The so called treaties were never done in good faith, nor was their any consultations with affected states. In the world of today, with none willing to compromise the situation is fraught with tensions and temperatures threaten to boil over.

 

POISONING THE WATERS.

“Any interference or diversion of the waters of the Nile amounts to a declaration of war on Egypt,”  Abdel-Akher Hammad was quoted saying to a charged Egyptian Parliament. For those not in the know, Hammad happened at the time to be a highly regarded Egyptian politician voicing the sentiments of millions of Egyptians. And another couple of millions Sudanese. For Egypt, the Nile is a Holy Grails that feeds millions, employs thousands and rejuvenates the economy. For a country that imports water, the threat of rationing the Nile is unthinkable.

No other single controversy since the time of the Pharaohs has exercised public imagination and heated temperatures in the Horn of Africa as the Nile water Basin Treaties. While Egypt and Sudan consider the Nile the lifeline of their states, Ethiopia epitomizes the quandary of sovereignty and self interest facing other downstream nations.Egypt and Sudan are the two biggest users of the Nile and according to some study more than 40% of their economy is directly dependent on the waters of the Nile. To them, any slight diversion of this bloodline would cripple their economy. Touching the Nile is killing the golden goose. To Sudan and other upstream nations, they have an exclusive right to use resources within their boundaries. Touting the principle of sovereignty, Ethiopia argues that only God can limit their use of resources within their territorial enclaves. Since the Nile passes within their boundaries, they ought to be free to use it. For reasons that becomes obvious later in the debate, self interest is the driving factor.

THE COLONIAL SHACKLES: TREATIES THAT ERODED ETHIOPIA’S SOVEREIGNTY.

However, before we bog ourselves down in the nitty gritty, a look at what begot this scenario is due. At the height of colonial conquest and plundering of Africa a myriad of obsequious treaties were signed by the conquerors to divest amongst themselves their conquest.

In April 1891 the Anglo-Italian Protocol became the first in a stream of assurances of good conduct dodging the Nile. The Italian government in Article III, accepted not to undertake the construction of any irrigation schemes on Nile tributaries that would impair their flow. Unsatisfied by the vagueness in the treaty the British courted Menelik II into penning a treaty between Great Britain and Ethiopia. Under its provision, the property rights to the tributaries of the Nile were surrendered by Ethiopia to Britain. Nothing was ever to be constructed in the major tributaries that would impair their flow into the Nile, except with the approval of Britain(representing modern day Egypt) and Sudan. This has become the most contested of the major Nile treaties signed. The Amharic version crucially differs with the English version on who retained the rights to the waters. Ethiopians also contend that the Shengo (the then parliament) never ratified the treaty.

After ‘securing’ Ethiopia’s cooperation Britain went ahead to consolidate its position. while Ethiopia contributes about 80% of Nile water, the rest originate from Uganda basin of L.Albert and L.Victoria. Britain thereafter roped the Independent State of Congo under Leopold II of Belgium into a treaty in 1906. The State of Congo acquiesced not to allow the blocking of streams draining into L.Albert.

Before the ink had dried on the Agreement with Congo, the Tripartite Agreement was signed in December of the same year. Article 4 bound Italy,Britain and France in acting together to safeguard the interest of Britain ( read Sudan) and Egypt in the Nile Basin. The treaty effectively stripped Ethiopia the last vestiges of sovereignty over the Niles that it may have retained. Today, Ethiopia decries that it was coerced and held at gun point into signing the treaty. Without any army to stop the colossus that was Britain, Ethiopia says it had no option but to sign and as such cannot be held to a treaty that it was coerced  into.

The 1925 exchange of notes between Britain and Italy was the next move in an increasingly muddled waters of the Nile. Italy recognised historical rights of Sudan and Egypt in the waters of L.Tana, the source of Blue Nile. As it stood Britain had effectively railroaded other nations into forsaking their sovereignty over the sources of the Nile.

THE AURA OF ENTITLEMENT AND DISENCHANTMENT.

As the orchestra neared a crescendo, its disconcerting notes were heard in the halls of the League of Nations. The disregard of Ethiopian territorial sovereignty by Britain and Italy was called into question in Assembly Proceedings. Both nations rejected the assertion that their treaties  where eroding Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

In the May of 1929 Egypt and Sudan signed an agreement setting the rules for sharing of the waters of the Nile.The agreement offered Egypt absolute control of the water for the dry season when water is highly valued. The agreement went further to restrict the amount of water that Sudan would be ‘allowed’ to use. No consideration was paid to the needs of other riparian states that form the source of the Nile.

The Nile Waters Agreement of 1959 cemented the primacy of Egypt and Sudan over the Nile water. This treaty formally set out a quantum allocation of the water. Sudan would receive 18.5 while Egypt was to get 55.5 billion cubic metres of water yearly from the Nile. It further allowed both nation to establish dams for irrigation and water storage purposes. Egypt constructed Aswan High Dam while Sudan put up the Rosaries Dam on Blue Nile.

At the international stage, the 1996 Helsinki Rules on the Use of Waters of International serves as the golden standard in the use of international waters.The rules recognise sovereignty of nations by allowing nations to make optimal use of water resources within their territorial enclaves. Since independence the other riparian states, other than Egypt and Sudan, have come forward claiming to have property rights over the waters flowing in their boundaries. The nations point to the Helsinki Rules to support their claims, claiming treaties bind only the signatories while other states are bound by the Helsinki Rules.

The cacophony of treaties that exist all point to a situation where Egypt takes the crocodile share of the Nile waters, Sudan wets it lips on the banks of the Nile. The other riparian states are left high and dry. To correct the situation and establish a mechanism for managing the waters of the Nile, upstream riparian states have launched the Cooperative Framework Agreement. Such an agreement is expected to change the Nile Basin Initiative into a permanent commission to handle all pertinent issues. Egypt and Sudan have however decried the move, terming it a death sentence.

WATER STRESS

As time pases only one thing remains clear. Population in these states continue to grow increasing the demand for water. Water stress will likely to occur and what the future portends these nations depend on whether agreement can be reached. Amicable solution to the issue remains ideal, but should peaceful means fail the threat of conflict cannot be wished away. While the waters of the Nile have begotten life to deserts, they are just as capable of begetting misery. The life giver becoming the longest rope in the world for hanging nine states or the effluence that drowns the chatter in a flood.

Nkarichia Mugambi Dennis.

Parklands Greens-  School of Law,

Parklands Campus- The University of Nairobi.

T

CROSSING THE T’S AND DOTTING THE I’S.

In accordance with the club plans, I would like to request members (and any other talented individual) to submit their design proposal of how the club logo and emblem ought to appear. The competition  is open to all members of the public and will officially open from Monday 6th of October until 20th of the same month.

The design should be one that is original, innovative and captures the spirit of the club while upholding the environmental consciousness of the members.

The prize for the winner shall be provided in the press release on Monday.

NEW SEMISTER, NEW ASPIRATIONS

A journey of a thousand miles begin with a step, our journey has begun. new times call for new plans and this time round we have it bigger, better, exciting and more ambitious projects that we expect to attain. As such, as the new semester begins the club would like to begin by welcoming all back to the fold, to another exciting and challenging dawn. This time round the club is gearing up to the production of a club magazine, visiting a few environmental conservation organizations and hosting an inter-university interactive forum.

Lets all roll our sleeves and prepare to participate fully and exceptionally for attainment of our ambitions.

Thank you all for last semesters commitment and dedication and may we better our best.

County Governments and the Environment

Introduction

Human beings are dependent on the environment for their survival in the universe. A threat to the environment is not only a threat to the survival of the human race, but also a threat to the survival of life itself on this planet. Over the last two centuries, human activities have drastically reduced the forest cover, led to the rise of the sea level, a drastic reduction of the polar ice and the extinction of species of animals and plants that have existed for millions of years.

Just like a boomerang, the short term gratification that irresponsible actions gain from the environment is met with calamities and disasters that the human race could not contemplate a few decades ago. The principles of Eco-justice have been adopted by both National and supra-national organizations. The right to a clean and healthy environment has been recognized by the United Nations, the European Union and similar organizations. 177 countries have recognized the right to a clean environment through their constitutions as of 2012. Kenya adopted the right to a clean and safe environment, in 2010, through a constitutional referendum.

Environmental provisions in the constitution

The right to a clean and healthy environment is recognized in article 42 of the constitution of Kenya.  Every citizen has a right to have the environment utilized in a manner that benefits the current generation, as well as the future generations. The state is supposed to enact measures, either through legislative action or otherwise, to ensure that the constitutional obligations to the environment are met. An aggrieved citizen can sue the state or the party responsible under article 70(1) if the right to a clean and healthy environment is not met.

 Chapter five of the constitution of Kenya outlines the manner in which land and the environment shall be utilized. Chapter five has vested a heavy responsibility on the Legislative branch of the government to enact measures to ensure that the sustainable use of the environment. The responsibility to ensure that the environment is clean and healthy is also borne by every citizen. A breach of that right attracts a penalty from a court of law.

The National Government and the County Government

The national government has a greater responsibility in relation to the environment than the county government. However, the sovereign power of the people of Kenya is exercised both at the national level and the county level. The National Assembly is expected to enact the major legislation concerning the environment. In conformity with the principles of devolution, the county legislative assemblies are expected to come up with legislation on the environmental issues in their jurisdiction. The county assembly legislation should be in conformity the national legislation.

 

 

Obligations in Respect to the Environment

The obligations of the county governments are outlined in part two of the Fourth Schedule. According the fourth schedule, the county health service is responsible for the collection and the disposal of solid waste. The county governments have the responsibility of controlling air and noise pollution. The counties are also entitled with the responsibility of implementing the national government policies on soil and water conservation.

The major backlog of conserving the environment falls on the county government.  Air pollution and improper waste disposal are the greatest contributors of environmental degradation.  The county governments have been in operation for over a year, and a lot of focus has been placed on political control rather than meeting the constitutional obligations to the environment. The majority of the county government have absconded their duty in relation to the environment and have become the agents of environmental degradation.  The majority of the county government lack comprehensive policies on waste disposal.

The county governments have significantly failed to curb air pollution. The companies that day in day out emit toxic gases to the environments are either owned by politicians or their sycophants. Therefore, without a firm environmental policy on pollution, the county governments only appear as toothless dogs in the face of the companies that are responsible for the pollution of the environment.

The government is busy concentrating with solving the youth unemployment puzzle.  With sixteen million youths unemployed, part of their labour force can be directed to cleaning the environment and eliminating improper waste disposal. The county government of Nairobi has tirelessly tried to provide a healthy living and working environment.  Nevertheless, there are some streets in Nairobi City County that are dirtier than any other place in Kenya. The County government of Machakos has transformed the streets of Machakos city and its environs from garbage disposal sites to a clean business haven.

Conclusion

It is easy to be deluded that the responsibility to provide a clean and healthy environment falls to the county governments. The constitution makes it clear that every citizen has a duty to ensure that the environment is safe. The sovereign power of the people of Kenya is exercised by the organs of the state on behalf of the people of Kenya. If private citizens are irresponsible with the environment and neglect their obligations to the environment, the county governments will be unable to fulfil their constitutional obligations to the environment.

Francis James Kioko,

Parklands Greens- Parklands Campus,

School of LawUniversity of Nairobi

HUMAN –ANIMAL CONFLICT IN KENYA

                                                

Recently it has become a common phenomenon to hear of the escalated animal-human conflict in Kenya. The clash between animals and residents has left a noticeable dent in both our cultural and economic status. Residents have taken stiff measures against the unlucky animals which cross their path by killing them. This has attracted strong reactions from the international community.

The major cause of this conflict is the ever expanding population which has led to invasion of land left solely for animals. It is now a norm to hear the land grabbing in our forests and other rich heritage places which causes threat to the animals living there. These animals are eventually pushed into our resource constrained parks where competition for food and water is stiff. All these animals have to turn, for survival, to areas outside the national parks where they can obtain food bringing them in contact with the people living near those areas. Herbivores straying from the congested national parks find their food in the settlers’ farm produce. Staple foods such as maize, cassava, beans, potatoes and fruit trees are the targets for the hungry herbivores that encompass elephants, baboons, zebra, buffalo and wild pigs. Carnivores devour cattle, sheep, goats and occasionally, human beings.

Kenya’s environmental and wildlife conservation has been geared towards preserving the status of pristine areas solely to attract tourists from the developed countries. With the tourists came the much sought after tourism dollars which has boosted the country’s economy. However this has been achieved at the expense of the local residents who stand to lose much rather than gain. People are rarely compensated for their losses and often don’t see the benefit of this animals hence kill them whenever they attack their crops or animals. In recent case, eight lions were speared in Kitengela after escaping from Nairobi national park and killed animals. The herders from the Maasai community took the matter into their hands, since the government has been too stingy to compensate them whenever their animals are attacked by wild animals, to protect their animals.

The current practice of the KWS is strictly to conserve wildlife at all costs. This means active policing to eliminate poaching. Anyone who harms or kills wildlife is considered a poacher. Even the villager who kills a wild animal in self-defense when attacked will be prosecuted for his act. A farmer who kills a baboon for feasting on the fruits of his sweat will also face charges of poaching. Killing a snake and skinning its hide can easily attract charges of illegal trade in game products.KWS has failed to educated people on the importance of the animals hence creating animosity between the organization and the community living around the parks. This trend is expected to continue if effective measures are not taken by the government.
It may not be possible for every Kenyan community to benefit from wildlife resources, but its possible to have agriculture, economic growth and tourism taking place hand in hand, each complementing the other. The Kenyan government can play its part to salvage the national pride, and it can do so by turning away from Western conservationists who still have the dream of Africa as a jungle and who want to keep it that way for their own pleasure. The animals are part of our heritage but as much they need conservation, residents have the right to be compensated for the loss caused by this animals otherwise they will continue to protect the little they have possibly by killing the animals.

The government should also restrict development in areas kept aside for the animals to avoid conflict. For example, the animal migratory route between Nairobi national park and Maasai Mara game reserve has been blocked with vast development. This has led to constant conflict since the animals are boxed in by human activities losing their natural habitats. This has also exposed them to colt of the poacher’s gun which has done extensive damage to the animal’s survival. Some are at blink of extinction if nothing is done, and done fast to correct this poaching nightmare. Our game rangers, however, are poorly armed and paid and are of no match to the poachers who are ready to do anything for juicy paycheck of landing any animal trophy. Am told ivory and rhino horns are costly than gold in far-east countries such as China this days where they are used to make luxurious articles and traditional medicines.

The Wildlife Act does nothing better since the fines, if at all you are caught, are just but a fraction of the fortune and one will walk direct from the court to the parks to try his luck again. This exemplifies the shortcomings in government to protect the animals and soon or later we shall tell our grandchildren there once were animals such as Rhinos and elephants now available in movies and photos. Everyone has the responsibility and duty to protect our animals. Humans should learn how to live with the animals without killing them.

 

 

Article by Joshua Mwonga,

Parklands Greens

Law student- Parklands Campus, University of Nairobi

ON THE VERGE OF EXTINCTION

Animals…animals! They are one of my favorite things in this world. They brighten up the otherwise dull, concrete environment we all seem to have accustomed ourselves to of late. Buildings, tarmac roads, sky scrapers, cell phones, computers (yes I am aware of the fact that I am using one right now), iPad, iPod, things almost all of us can no longer “live without”. Man in his “intellectual supremacy” has as a result of searching for an easy life caused so much chaos and destruction to our ecosystem and as a result harmed our wildlife. In our pursuit of technological advancement we have put our environment at the bottom of the list. Unfortunately for Mother Nature, this means her gradual destruction….

We keep on hearing terms on the news such as global warming, poaching, and extinction of species among others but do these words actually have effect on us as individuals or do they just pass by like the wind into non existence as soon as we turn the telly off? Are we aware of what they mean or are they just another thing said by “scientists and environmental fanatics”? Well, if to you they are the latter then it’s really too bad. But hopefully at the end of this article you would have learned a thing or two about your surroundings (don’t log in to face book just yet, the article is just beginning).

The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines extinction as the dying or termination of a species which occurs when species are diminished because of evolutionary changes in their members or environmental forces. It then goes on to give examples of these forces. They include habitat fragmentation, global change, and overexploitation of species for human use. So although extinction may occur naturally (because of genetic inbreeding poor reproduction), in this day and age it is highly unlikely that man does not have a hand in it. There are several species of animals that are on the verge of extinction all over the world and that will be my focus today.

The first animal I’ll mention is the Great Polar bear. Unfortunately this animal is not as great as it used to be. We are slowly moving ourselves to a world where its white fur will only be a story on the lips of an elderly to its children and its children’s children (much like the Loch Ness Monster, though I am of the generation opinion that that was a myth). Its home, the Arctic is slowly melting away and so is the polar bear with it. This is thanks to global warming which will be tackled in depth in another article (or you could just be diligent and read about it on your own).

Next we have the “King of the Jungle” the Lion. Although if you are well read you will know that Lion’s do not live in jungles. This is now one of our own. Found in our continent, and in our own country, Kenya. He is a member of the “Big Five”. Did you know that in 1950 there were approximately 400 000 African Lions? Well at the moment they are around 16 500 to 47 000. The number is still decreasing though. The king of the jungle has now fallen prey to man and his habitat is slowly being overtaken resulting in his “suffocation” if I may use that term. He has been dethroned…

We then come to the largely beautiful African Elephant who once dominated the savannas of Africa in large herds…with scary but beautiful tusks, and it’s massive ears… well it seems that man stopped seeing the beauty of the whole and coveted the beauty of the large ,white tusks it had. Poaching seems to be the death of these animals .and now as a result they have drastically reduced in numbers…We seem to have forgotten their value is much more than just monetary…and an elephant never forgets….

Tigers are also fighting to keep their numbers and struggling to keep their habitats as well they don’t mix well with humans and unfortunately this Asian king of the jungle seems to be losing the battle. Then we have the father of all speed. Yes you got it right…It’s the cheetah! Such a beautiful and phenomenal animal indeed. It may be fast, but it seems to be losing the race with extinction due to the fact that it’s losing habitat and has a high infant mortality rate.

Mountain gorillas whose home is Central Africa are unfortunately susceptible to several threats. Not only is poaching a problem but they also are vulnerable to loss of habitat as well as diseases like Ebola. Yes you heard that right, I said Ebola. This disease, between 2002 and 2004 killed approximately 5000 gorillas.

We all know what the world’s largest animal is right? Well, if you don’t know, don’t worry I’ll tell you. (No it’s not the elephant if that was your guess). It’s the Blue Whale. While in the early 20th century they were almost hunted to extinction, at the moment what is a threat to them is pollution. Another very familiar word to us humans. This pollution comes in the form of noise from boats and sonar equipment, oil spillages, PCBs (which are basically polychlorinated biphenyls, i.e. industrial products and chemicals.) These things together with acidification and warming of the sea seem to give this large creature a tiny chance for survival.

These are just but a few species of the animal kingdom that are slowly being pushed towards doom and destruction. We should not think that the fact that these animals may soon be brought to non existence will not have any effect on our “technological lives”. Their destruction is our eventual doom as well since the balance they brought about in the eco system will be distorted by their absence, not to mention how dull life will be without them. The Question is, “what can we do about it?”…

Stuart Pimm, a professor at Duke University and researcher said this while speaking to The Press… “We are on the verge of the sixth extinction….whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions…” What actions are these he was talking about? You may tell me “well Natalie what can I do, I am just a student, I have no job etc.” Well you can do anything you set your mind to. All you need with you is five simple steps.

  1. Discourage those who seek pleasure in hunting by telling them what effect it will bring…we all know people. So give the information you now have to them. After all it all starts with a simple step right?
  2. Do not buy products tested on animals. Yes the next time you are at the supermarket, actually take time and look at the label to the things you put in the trolley. If we all did this then we would create a dominoes effect which would bring companies that advocate for animal cruelty out of business…it starts with just one person….
  3. Do not buy animal products such as tiger’s claw, elephant tusks etc. need I say more on that?
  4. Try support organizations such as Kenya Wildlife Services and World Wildlife Fund as they strive to prevent extinction on a larger scale. You could even volunteer in your free time.
  5. We need to get the word out there so create awareness campaigns, make power point presentations, write articles or even a blog, for the computer geniuses out there ,make animations ( I’m not just suggesting this because I’m a fan of cartoons).let’s use this technology we have because it’s not all that bad.

We can do so much good for these helpless animals. Get started right now. You can even post something on facebook, twitter, Pinterest .(yes ,you now have permission to log in). Let us take action right now. After all, change starts with you and me. Let’s save our wildlife J

 

 

Natalie Jemima Hawala

Law Student and Self Proclaimed Environmentalist.

The University of Nairobi Parklands Campus, Parklands Greens Club.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/198987/extinction

http://www.weather.com/news/science/study-world-verge-sixth-great-extinction-20140530

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-animals-on-the-verge-of-extinction/related-photos

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/pcbs.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Your-Part-to-Prevent-Animal-Extinction