“[Kenya’s] economic growth and the wellbeing of its people largely depend on the sustainable management of natural resources from its natural environment.”
Former UNDP Representative in Kenya
By 2014, urban agriculture in Nairobi had declined by 28% over the previous two decades, with green space being replaced by buildings and infrastructure. A recent Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act, however, aims to invest 100,000 USD in urban agriculture and 130,000 USD in water-harvesting facilities. This will reach all 17 districts of Nairobi County and its 3.5 million inhabitants. The aims are to:
- Contribute to food security through the development of agriculture
- Protect food safety and public health
- Ensure collaboration between stakeholders in management of organic waste
Karura Forest is situated on the outskirts of Nairobi and is surrounded by densely populated areas. The Forests Act of 2005 proposed new measures to manage the forest with the involvement of communities. Karura provides access to fuel wood, bee harvesting, water and eco-tourism — all of which are managed by public and private sector actors under the act and regulations.
The future of Karura was not always guaranteed. Threatened by housing development and Kenya’s notorious ‘land grabs’ in the 1990s, the forest was saved by a high-profile campaign led by Wangari Maathai who, in 2004, became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
At 1063 hectares, Karura is the largest of Nairobi’s three suburban forests (the others being Ngong and Ololua). The forest is home to Syke’s monkey and other forest species such as bushbuck, dik dik, duiker, bush pig, genet and civet.
The vision is to make Karura Forest safe, secure and a world class example of sustainable forest management and conservation. The goal is to sustain Karura Forest through stakeholders’ participation in the provision of goods and services for city residents.
The Nairobi River Basin Resettlement is an ongoing project along a small stretch of the Ngong River, where approximately 6,800 inhabitants, and several industries, are suspected to have illegally dumped chemical, metal, and other wastes in the water. The government of Kenya, along with several private actors, aims to relocate the informal settlements and businesses, rehabilitate the river ecosystem, and create an improved environment for the residents of this area.
Nairobi: the green city in the sun
Uhuru Park in Nairobi has the same function as Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York City: a green space in the middle of the city that helps to provide fresh air for its citizens. In 1989 President Daniel Arap Moi announced a plan to build a 62-storey skyscraper, complete with a statue of himself, in Uhuru Park. However, Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for encouraging women to plant trees in order to conserve the environment, ran a campaign protesting this plan. “I feel compelled to fight for it so that my grandchildren may share that dream and that joy of freedom as they one day walk there,” she wrote. The ensuing protests were not well received by the government, but foreign investors pulled out and the project was shelved. Mrs. Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement planted an estimated 45 million trees in Kenya, became known as the Tree Mother of Africa, whereas Nairobi — which is rounded by rainforests, savannah grasslands and has an array of parks and open green spaces — is still recognized as the “green city in the sun”.
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