Deputy President William Ruto has called on Kenyans to put their energies on decreasing pollution.
He said efforts to scale back pollution must be enhanced for a cleaner and better environment for life to thrive.
Speaking in Kwale County during the World Environment Day, Mr Ruto said there was also need to raise public awareness on the importance of saving “our oceans” from pollution emanating from land-based activities.
“Invented to solve important production constraints, plastic has over time inflicted serious environmental devastation on land, air and sea,” he said.
He was accompanied by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, Opposition MPs Suleiman Dori (Msambweni), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Kassim Sawa (Matuga), Issa Boy (Kwale, Senator) and Benjamin Tayari (Kinango). Also present were Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Nyandarua Senator Githiomi Mwangi and Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed Obbo.
The Deputy President noted that vulnerable ecosystems were bearing the brunt of the degradation, with dire implications on people who depend on the ecosystems for livelihood.
Latest data shows that more than 10 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans annually.
In Kenya, two million tonnes of plastics are produced every year, 80 per cent of which end up in the ocean.
In turn, Mr Ruto said, these plastics reach the ocean, degrade and are eaten by fish, eventually ending up on our dinner plates.
To address the dreadful plastic pollution, several initiatives have been undertaken, including the United Nation’s Clean Seas Campaign. Started last year, the initiative urges the global community to legislate regulations on managing plastics.
In its bid to support this grand plan, Kenya banned the manufacture, use and importation of plastic carrier bags and flat bags last year.
“I urge all corporate and industry players as well as Kenyans to embrace and exploit alternative packaging material as well as recycling and re-using to minimise waste,” said Mr Ruto.
But the government does not intend to stop there. According to the Deputy President, together with other stakeholders, the government has initiated various mechanisms, including a take-back system by manufacturers, clean-up exercises in various counties and intensified recycling efforts.
To firm up these conservation efforts, Mr Ruto called on the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to introduce a monthly national clean-up day to be marked in all counties, towns, villages, schools, colleges and universities to culminate in the Clean-up-the-World day, which is usually marked globally every September.
The Deputy President said the Government will sustain and intensify its partnership with counties to drive the green agenda forward.
He however, urged counties to mainstream climate change in their Integrated Development Plans. So far, Wajir, Makueni and Isiolo, have set aside funds to mitigate against climate change.
Earlier, while addressing Kwale Primary School pupils during a tree-planting exercise, Mr Ruto said the Government was also reviewing the curriculum to integrate environment issues in the education system.
“We know that banning plastics is not enough. We have to address the destruction of forests. This is why three weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyans in launching the National tree planting,” he said.
The initiative is expected to see at least 10 per cent tree cover by 2022.