Together with Cordaid Kenya and the Partners for Resilience alliance, partner Wetlands International was able to support NEMA in reviewing the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Conservation and Management of Wetlands) Amendment Regulations, 2009.
Wetlands International is dedicated to safeguarding and restoring wetlands for people and nature. They are organization driven by the knowledge that safeguarding and restoring wetlands is urgent and vital for water security, biodiversity, climate regulation, sustainable development and human health. In our disaster risk reduction work, we work from the principles that environmental degradation can lead to disasters and aggravation of hazards, and that the sustenance and restoration of healthy ecosystems are key to reducing disaster risk and improving community resilience.
To achieve the above goal, we work to influence policy on wetlands management and conservation. Under the strategic partnership Partners for Resilience (PfR) Kenya, Wetlands International signed an MoU with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for broader collaboration on environmental management with particular focus on wetlands management. One of the elements of collaboration is to support NEMA in reviewing the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Conservation and Management of Wetlands) Amendment Regulations, 2009 to align with the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Providing the framework
Wetlands Regulations provide a regulatory framework for the management and conservation of wetlands in Kenya which are at the present state, being degraded at an alarming rate including encroachment. The Regulations provide enforcement mechanisms to ensure sustainable wetlands management including banning activities that degrade such ecosystems. During the review of the Regulations, the PfR partners through Wetlands International lobbied for inclusion of key Integrated Risk Management (IRM) elements in the Regulations. Policy influencing is one of the key domains for IRM under the PfR programme.
Wetlands International and NEMA held several consultative and planning meetings to identify the best strategies for the review of the Regulations considering costs, issues of stakeholders/public participation, and timeframe including challenges anticipated since 2017 was an electioneering year in Kenya.
The team developed a concept paper and a costed work plan to guide the process. A team of 12 experts on wetlands-related issues were identified and a 5-day long experts meeting held in Naivasha to review the Regulations. This was a cost-effective process rather than hiring a consultant to review the Regulations. A first draft of the Amended Regulations was produced from the experts meeting.
The next step was to invite the public through a gazette notice to provide comments on the first draft of the Amended Regulations. The comments from various stakeholders including academia, the private sector, CSOs, and individuals were incorporated in the Regulations.
Stakeholders/public consultation is a mandatory step in policy and legislative making process under the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Together with NEMA, Wetlands International held a stakeholders meeting in Malindi for purposes of receiving comments particularly on coastal and marine wetlands ecosystems. Stakeholders included local community (WRUAs), academia, government both national and county, and CSOs.
Most interesting were the views from the community through the WRUAs who identified the challenges affecting wetlands on the ground. WRUAs play a key role in water resources management including wetlands. They are formed under the Water Act 2016, for collaborative management water resources and conflict resolution at sub-basin/sub-catchment level. Comments from communities from communities in Tana Delta raised challenges on the importance of enhancing community capacity in wetlands management for improved livelihoods and also to reduce disaster risks.
In November, 2017, a one-day national validation workshop was held in Nairobi on the Regulations. The purpose was to present the second draft of the Regulations to national stakeholders for validation and comments. Key comments from the national stakeholders included the need to acknowledge the role of wetlands in provision of ecosystem services to support livelihoods and also to enhance resilience by reducing disaster risks. These comments ae relevant in relation to the key elements of IRM under the PfR Programme.
A 4 –days experts meeting is planned for April 2018 as the last important review meeting to finalize the Regulations. The Regulations will then be forwarded to the Cabinet Minister for Environment and Natural Resources for adoption. This will be a key milestone for PfR Alliance in mainstreaming IRM in the National Wetlands Regulations.