By Tabitha Oeri

More than 60 people have been arrested in Nairobi County between January and February 2021 for using the banned plastic bags. The new directive was issued by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and effected on August, 2017.

Dr Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry regretted that Kenyans are reverting back to using the banned plastic bags. He said the practice is becoming a menace that needs to be controlled as it is a threat to our environment.

Dr Kiptoo urged Kenyans to avoid using the banned plastics as they are harmful to the environment. The PS made the remarks during the 5th session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) media briefing held on Tuesday, 16 February in Nairobi, Kenya.

PS, Ministry of Environment and Forestry called upon media to engage people by creating awareness and educating them on the importance of environmental conservation. For example, climate change, the degradation of human land, chemicals, pollutions and technology.

“Kenya produces up to 22,000 metric tons of solid waste per day, 60% of which is organic waste, 35% is recyclable waste and 5% is landfill,” Dr Kiptoo explained.

In this regard, the PS highlighted the recently placed legal framework on Solid Waste Management Policy that is before cabinet. The policy focuses on a shift in the paradigm from linear management of waste to circular economy approach.

Under the theme dubbed, “Strengthening Action for Nature to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals”, PS Kiptoo emphasized that, there is need to work towards giving nature based solutions to help maintain balance.

He highlighted that the ‘Environment is detoriating faster than previously thought, emphasizing on the need for governments to work faster to reverse this trend. This is according to a survey report on the economic global outlook under the African Union (AU) agenda 2063 and Vision 2030.

PS, Dr Kiptoo further accentuated on the need to adapt to the circular economy paradigm as it seeks to address the need for waste to be controlled at source level (Kenyans domestic waste, industry waste). This is to avoid the habit of collecting waste in heaps and dumping it at Dandora and other major dumping site.

To further enforce the efforts in environmental conservation by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr Kiptoo addressed the need to take into consideration uprising factors of natural catastrophes’. This is with the issue on rising waters that has affected different water catchment areas in Kenya. These are L. Baringo that has risen by 108%, L. Nakuru by 84%, L. Naivasha by 42%, L. Bogoria by 26% and L. Turkana by almost 11% and L. Victoria by 1%.

On the other hand, Macharia Kamau,Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed  on the need to reclaim biodiversity. He also emphasized personal initiatives in environmental conservation instead of blaming or waiting upon the government.

This is to enable the Kenyan government to reap the rich economic and social benefits inherent in natural resources such as oil, arable land, water, mineral resources among others.

Currently, Kenya is recognized as the central drivers of change that facilitate United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Kenya is viewed as an instrumental nation in driving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the world.

The main conference is to be held on 22nd and 23rd February 2021 covering the first part of the 5th session of UNEA. This is to further the theme and address factors of climate change, nature and chemicals and pollutions towards achieving SDGs.

UNEP the founder of the UNEA will be celebrating 50 years of service next year, 2022.