•The National Treasury has allocated Sh38 billion to expand access to clean and adequate water for domestic and agricultural use.
•Any reduction in allocation for environment protection puts to question Kenya's commitment to reverse ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.
The National Treasury has allocated Sh38 billion to expand access to clean and adequate water for domestic and agricultural use.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said the money will go towards water and sewerage infrastructure development.
“I have proposed Sh16.4 billion allocated for water resources management and Sh 10.8 billion for water storage and flood control,” he said.
Yatani set aside Sh10.5 billion for irrigation and land reclamation and Sh1.6 billion for water harvesting and storage for irrigation.
To support the environment and water conservation, the CS set aside Sh9.6 billion for forests and water towers conservation and Sh3.3 billion for environmental management and protection.
The CS said Sh1.4 billion will go to the Meteorological Service while Sh8.2 billion will go to wildlife conservation and management.
Nature Kenya director Paul Matiku said allocation towards environmental protection, water and natural resources sector ought to have been increased.
“At a bare minimum, the government needs to allocate Sh 100 billion annually for the restoration of ecosystems to mitigate biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution,” he said.
Matiku said any reduction in allocation for environment protection puts to question Kenya's commitment to reverse ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.
He said such a reduction also puts to question efforts on sustainable development in line with Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade on Restoration targets and objectives of various Multi-Lateral Environmental Agreements ratified.
“Nature Kenya is disappointed with this decision, especially when there is an urgent global call for ecosystem restoration,” he said.
Matiku said the contribution of the Environmental protection, Water and Natural Resources sector to Kenya’s economy is immense and cannot be underestimated.
“Ecosystems support life in various forms. Humans, wildlife, marine life and biodiversity depend on ecosystems for food, water, air, tourism, among other invaluable products and services that are the backbone for Kenya’s economic growth,” he said.
Unfortunately, these ecosystems (forests, wetlands, grasslands, coastal and marine, among others) are degrading at an alarming rate, and the effects are far-reaching.
He said millions of Kenyans face starvation occasioned by persistent droughts.
“Perennial floods and landslides are now a routine due to the depletion of vegetative cover. Erosion of soils in farms is contributing to poor crop yields. Soils swept upstream end up in water bodies such as lakes giving rise to water levels in lakes, as witnessed in the Rift Valley” he said.
He said the cumulative effects of degradation put a strain on the economy, and by extension, taxpayers' pockets.
Matiku said the cutback in the environment budget significantly waters down restoration efforts.
A good chunk of the allocation is for recurrent expenditure. Little funding is left for delivering tangible conservation actions to reverse the loss of nature, he said.
He urged the government to honour its restoration commitments.
In the financial year 2020/21, the treasury set aside Sh1.0 billion to support flood control using local labour in the most affected areas.
Also, set aside was Sh 850 million to cater for the rehabilitation of wells, water pans and underground tanks in ASAL areas using local labour and Sh 540 million to enhance tree planting programme across the country using locally sourced seedlings.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris