The new 168-page "Kenya: Atlas of Our Changing Environment" - produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - was launched earlier this week in Nairobi. "Kenya’s chances of realizing its 2030 vision will depend increasingly on the way the country manages its natural or nature-based assets," the press release reads. Of course, I hear you say.
Let me start by admitting that the report really looks nice and professionally done in terms of lay-out, has easy-to-read graphs and tables and many images and is quite informative. Let me give you just one example which you may find interesting:
The land available per person in Kenya has dropped from 7.2 hectares per person in 1960 to just 1.7 ha per person in 2005 due to the rapid population growth of the last few decades. There are now 38 million inhabitants in Kenya, up from just eight million in 1960. The population is expected to keep rising, and land available per person is projected to drop to 0.3 ha per person by 2050.
But... if you dig into the atlas a bit deeper, there is really nothing new in there. Nothing we didn't know already, I would say. Even the video that comes with it is a bit disappointing: mostly things you can also see through Google Earth. And the film has a non-Kenyan voice-over. We do have some good Kenyan voices as well, don't we?
Was the production of this atlas by UNEP really necessary? Does it make sense to do more tests on a sick patient when you already know which disease s/he is suffering from? Instead of spending more money on doing more medical tests and producing additional reports, you would start treating the patient, right? And I think that is exactly what UNEP should have done right now instead of producing yet another report: start treating the sick patient. Start treating our threatened environment by promoting and facilitating practical interventions for example. Kenyans were not really waiting for yet another nice report to gather dust on the shelves...
Also, the report is not very accessible to the average Kenyan. OK, you can download and/or buy the report here. But which Kenyan is really able to download a file of 63 MB? Or which Kenyan can afford US$80 for the hardcopy? And this is without shipping charges from the UK by the way. Yes, shipping from the UK. Why a report which is about Kenya and which has been produced by an organization (UNEP) based in Kenya needs to shipped from the UK is still a mystery to me. Is this another case of hypocrisy at UNEP? The use of SUVs by UN staff in Nairobi has been rankling some bloggers for some time now.