When we think Kenya we think animals, safari and Lake Victoria among other beautiful natural wonders this country has. What doesn’t cross our mind is: deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, water shortage, flooding, pollution and poaching. These are the main environmental hazards affecting Kenya.
Deforestation: Can you believe only 2% of the land remains forested in Kenya? It is estimated that 50 square kilometers of forest are gone each year. This is a huge problem. This means millions of animals are left without a home or food leading to the loss of biodiversity. Not only are ecosystems being killed but flooding occurs and erosion.
Soil Erosion: Soil Erosion is a natural process; the problem is that human activities have increased the rate at which erosion occurs. Accelerated erosion causes ecological collapse and a decrease in agricultural productivity because there is a loss of the upper soil layer, which is rich in nutrients. Soil erosion may end in desertification.
Desertification: Drought is affecting the country’s natural resources to the extent they are not suitable for production. Droughts have accelerated soil degradation and reduced per-capita food production. According to the Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu “four major food crises have all been triggered by desertification”. These food crises have obliged Kenyans to migrate internally causing disputes over scarce resources due to overcrowded areas.
Water Shortage: Kenyans live with a constant water scarcity. Most of the population doesn’t have access to fresh water due to the inequitable delivery of water. The existent water basins do not reach most areas of the country. In addition, Kenya’s government does not have the funds to run pumping stations. Also, existing piping systems are often pirated. What completely leaves me devastated is the fact that when Kenyan’s actually reach fresh water (most spend up to one-third of their day searching for water in the hot sun) there is a high possibility of this one being contaminated. And, if not contaminated the containers they use to collect the water is usually second hand, previously used for oil, fertilizers or wastes.
Flooding: Seems like a contradiction to say there is flooding when there is drought. But flooding may occur in Kenya during the months of July and August. In Kenya when flooding occurs there are risks of mudslides which have killed people before.
Pollution: The air in Kenya is so polluted it is said to be causing heart and lung diseases and also respiratory infections. Some industries are heavy polluters since they are still using old and inefficient technologies. As travelers we have to be careful with contaminated water and take the necessary precautions.
Poaching: Kenya has many national parks and reserves, which protect wildlife, but elephant populations are still at risk. Elephant hunting is banned in Kenya but sadly poaching has not reduced.