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National Green Economy Baseline for Kenya

A Capacity Building Programme for Inclusive Green Economy

September, 2019

Overview of environmental trends

Country overview

Kenya covers a total area of 582,646 km2, of which 11,230 km2 (1.9%) are water bodies, leaving 571,416 km2 being landmass. Kenya has diverse geographic landscapes, with relief, climatic and ecological extremes affected by altitudes, which vary from sea level at the coast to over 5,199 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.) on Mt. Kenya, the highest mountain in the country. The terrain ranges from coastal reefs to inland plains, plateaus, with dominant features such as the Great Rift Valley and major highlands which constitute the “Water Towers” of the country. Moreover, Kenya has a 880 km long coastline extending from Ishakani in Somalia in the north, to Vanga at the Tanzanian border in the south.

The economy of Kenya is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism. The National Gross Domestic Product stood at Kshs. 7,749.4 Billion (equivalent to US$ 77 Billion). The per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Kenya in 2017 was Kshs.166,314 (equivalent to US$1,660). Indeed Kenya has transformed from a developing country to a Lower Middle Income Country, as declared by the World Bank, when in 2015, the country’s per capita GDP exceeded the US$1,000 mark. However, poverty prevalence is estimated at 42%, and thus, the economy needs to perform better, to create more jobs, bridge the poverty gap and reduce inequality. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2018), the country has an average GDP growth rate averaging 4.9%.

Kenya has a population of 46.6 million; with growth rates averaging 3% annually.A majority of the Kenyan population (67%), lives in rural areas but rural–urban migration has steadily increased the trend. Overall, Kenya’s population is projected to reach 67.84 million by the year 2030, by which time some 63% of the people will be living in urban areas. This has great implications for agriculture, water resources, food security, land resources exploitation and the environment.

Kenyan’s Environmental footprint

A country’s ecological footprint is the area of productive land and aquatic ecosystems required to produce resources and assimilate wastes at a specific material standard of living, wherever that land may be located. For Kenya, this was 1.11 ha/person in 2007, compared to a global average of 2.7 ha/person and a global average biocapacity of 1.8. Although Kenya’s ecological footprint per person is considered low and is below the global average biocapacity, the country continues to move rapidly into a state of “ecological overshoot”. This is reflected in the 37.5 per cent increase in Kenya’s ecological footprint from 0.8 in 2003 to 1.11 in 2007.

Table 1: Selected indicators of natural capital and the environment in Kenya


ResourceCurrent scenario

5 Ramsar sites*

Fresh water endowment548 m3 per capita per year against UN recommended threshold of 1 000 m3 per capita per year
Biodiversity**• Over 6 500 plant species, more than 260 of which are found nowhere else in the world. • More than 1 000 bird species.
• Over 350 species of mammals.
Forest cover6 per cent against a Constitutional target of 10 per cent***
Electricity consumption (TWh)6.52****
Carbon dioxide emissions (Mt of CO2 )11.64 (CO2 emissions from fuel combustion only) ****
Combustible renewables and waste (Mt of oil equivalent)13 871.8*****
Combustible renewables and waste (% of total energy)77.9*****
Energy production (Kt of oil equivalent)15 130.4

* Source: NEMA, Kenya State of Environment and Outlook, 2010.
** Source: http://www.virtualkenya.org/pdf/Booklet2.pdf
*** Source: Food and Agricultural Organization, 2010.
****Source: International Energy Agency, 2011.9
*****Source: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/kenya/combustible-renewables-and-waste-percent-of-total-energy-wb-data.html

There are indications that most of these resources are already strained as a result of increasing anthropogenic activities. Human activities and settlements have brought unprecedented change to Kenya’s ecosystems. At the same time, extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, are increasingly affecting food security and agricultural production and have contributed to high vulnerability and degradation of land and desertification. Concerns about environmental degradation and sustainable development have grown steadily over the last few decades, especially as economic growth becomes increasingly dependent on the exploitation of natural/biological resources. The main characteristics of such environmental degradation include overexploitation, industrial pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and degraded water quality, poaching and domestic and industrial pollution. Human conflict and human-wildlife conflict are becoming increasingly common in resource-scarce areas, mainly in northern and north-eastern Kenya, where there have been instances of clan clashes over water resources and grazing lands.

The strain on ecosystems is especially apparent in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), which make up more than 80 per cent of Kenya’s total land mass and are home to over 10 million people, about a quarter of Kenya’s total population. The ASALs have large natural endowment in terms of livestock, wild game and minerals. More than 70 per cent of the national livestock population in Kenya is found in the ASALs, 90 per cent of the wild game that supports much of the tourism sector and much of Kenya’s potential and exploited commercial mineral wealth are in the ASALs. Yet, the ASALs have the lowest development indicators and highest poverty incidence in the country, which is aggravated by environmental degradation, insecurity, climatic shocks and disease.

However, there is a growing recognition that the ASALs have the potential to accelerate development and contribute to economic transformation. It is on the basis of this that a transition to inclusive green growth is important.

Legal environmental framework

Generally, there are about 77 statutes in Kenya that relate to environmental concerns, albeit these were harmonized through the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999 (EMCA). More specifically, the Constitution of Kenya under Article 42 provides safeguards for the environment stipulating that “Every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment”. Article 60 (c) provides for sustainable and productive management of land resources. It calls for “sustainable exploitation, utilization, management and conservation of the environment and natural resources” and works “… to achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least 10 per cent of the land area of Kenya” (Article 69 [(a)- (h)]).

The Kenya Vision 2030 has placed the Environment at the top of its agenda, stipulating that Kenya aims to be a nation that has a clean, secure and sustainable environment by 2030. However, environmental degradation is escalating in Kenya due to exploitative land use practices, deforestation, overgrazing, poorly planned and expanding human settlements, industrialization and pollution. Poverty is another major cause and consequence of environmental degradation and resources depletion. The poor rely heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods, and are unable to put land to rest or add inputs. Environmental issues affect almost all spheres of national development and thus have a bearing on SLM.

Green economy policies

Table 2: Policy and legal provisions for a green economy

Policy/Legal StatuteProvision
Constitution of Kenya 2010− Article 42 recognizes a clean and healthy environment as a right.
− Article 60 (c) calls for sustainable and productive management of land resources − Article 69 [(a)-(h)] declares that the State shall ensure sustainable exploitation, utilization, and protection of genetic and biological diversity; establish a system for environmental impact assessment; and achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least 10 per cent of the land area of Kenya.
Kenya Vision 2030Over-reaching vision and overall policy framework for sustainable development
First Medium-Term Plan, 2008-2012: Kenya Vision 2030Programmes and projects for 2008-2012: restoration of ecosystems, including rehabilitation and protection of the five water towers (Mau, Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Cheregany and Mt. Kenya); preparation of national land use plan, waste management systems, exploration and mining, invasive species, geological mapping, renewable energy and sustainable land use.
Second Medium-Term Plan, 2013-2017Some programmes and projects for 2013-2017 include: strengthening environmental governance; waste management and pollution control; rehabilitation of urban rivers; rehabilitation and protection of the water towers, forest and wildlife conservation and management; promotion and piloting of green energy; review of water resources management; land reclamation; implementation of the NCCRS and development of a national green economy strategy.
Third Medium Term Plan, 2018-2022Some programmes and projects for 2018-2022 includes continued rehabilitation and protection of the five water towers, completion of the ongoing water projects, introduce green technologies and innovation programmes among others.
Population Policy for National Development (PPND)PPND recognizes the impact of rapid population growth on Kenya’s development goals and proposes a multi-sectoral approach to address this issue, with a focus on voluntary family planning.
Physical Planning ActReserve all land planned for open spaces, parks, urban forests and green belts.
Local Government Act (Revised)Utilization of sewage systems including removal and destruction of refuse and effluents.
Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) National Vision and Strategy: Natural Resource Management, 2005-2015Sets out the overarching principles and broad actions required to transform the Kenyan ASALs into national wealth and employment creators.

Public Health ActProvisions concerning sanitation and health
Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) 2010-2020ASDS seeks to progressively reduce unemployment and poverty in Kenya through agriculture, and to spur agriculture back to growth trends.
Agriculture ActPromotes and maintains stable agriculture and provides for conservation of soil and its fertility; aims to stimulate the development of agricultural land in accordance with the accepted practices of good land management and good husbandry.
Agriculture (Farm Forestry) Rules 2009Promotion and maintenance of farm forest cover of at least 10 per cent of every agricultural land holding and preservation and sustenance of the environment in combating climate change and global warming.
National Energy PolicyAims to facilitate provision of clean, sustainable, affordable, reliable and secure energy services at least cost, while protecting the environment.
Feed-in Tariffs for Renewable Energy Resource Generated Electricity- Guide for Investors− Accelerates the development of green energy, including wind, solar and renewable biomass.
− Instrument to promote generation of electricity from renewable energy sources.
Least Cost Power Development Plan (LCPDP)Identifies affordable, low-cost energy sources for Kenyans.
Scaling up Renewable Energy Programme (SREP) – Investment Plan for KenyaGoK and various actors in the Kenyan society seek to use the benefits of SREP in low-income countries to achieve their goals in energy, in a way that improves environmental, economic, social and productive development.
Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2004 on EnergySessional Paper No. 4 identified the need to integrate energy planning with the national economic, social and environmental policies, as energy is a critical input in the socioeconomic progress of any economy.
Energy Act, 2006Amends and consolidates laws relating to energy.
Occupational, Safety and Health Act, 2007Amends and consolidates laws relating to energy.
Environmental protection
National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS)Outlines adaptation and mitigation measures to enhance climate resilience.
National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP)National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP)
Forests ActReservation, protection and sustainable exploitation of forests.
Kenya Forestry Master PlanReservation, protection and sustainable exploitation of forests.
Water ActWater resource management and prohibition of water pollution, including throwing rubbish, refuse, effluent and discharge of trade waste into water.
Fisheries ActManagement, exploitation and conservation of fisheries
Environmental Management and Coordination ActLegal and institutional framework for environmental management and related matters – currently under review.
Wildlife PolicySeeks to balance the needs of the people of Kenya with opportunities for sustainable wildlife conservation and management countrywide.
Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan 2016 – 2030Seeks to entrench a low carbon, resource efficient, equitable and inclusive socio-economic transformation

In 2016, the government of Kenya put in place a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan 2016 – 2030. GESIP focuses on the main binding social economic constraints towards the attainment of Kenya’s vision 2030. It is meant to guide both National and County governments, the private sector, civil society and other actors to adopt development pathways with higher green growth, cleaner environment and higher productivity relative to the business as usual growth scenario.

Environmental fiscal reform

GESIP recognizes that it would be important to have in place a macro policy framework as a key enabler to inclusive green economy transition. The government therefore continues to pursue fiscal and monetary policies to foster fiscal discipline along this pathway. The government is in the process of reviewing and exploring the use of taxation, guarantees and “green procurement” to promote Green Economy.

The success of green economy implementation lies in its mainstreaming in the policy planning and budgeting processes both at the national and county level. At the county level, green economy policies, programmes and projects are embedded in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs). The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) implemented by the government provides a platform for linking green growth to planning, policy and budget process. The MTEF sector working Groups can therefore mainstream green growth initiatives in sector plans and budgets.

Institutional setup

Green economy is not confined to a single sector and therefore extends beyond the government to include private sector and the civil society. The county governments (devolved level) are regarded as critical agents for mobilizing local green economy activities. Effective framework is therefore required to coordinate green economy activities both horizontally and vertically.

Figure 1: A proposed National framework for Kenya


Examples of cases

Numerous green economy-related programmes are being undertaken by government ministries and agencies as outlined in the GESIP. These include the Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre and the GKI. Multilateral and bilateral development agencies are also involved in supporting numerous projects that address the challenge of climate change and support the green economy policy agenda, notably UNEP, UNDP, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the UK Department for International Development (DfID), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank. By January 2013, Kenya had registered 11 projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM).

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 5/11/2020

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