Columnists

Dirty coal exposes Kenyans to health crisis

protest

Participants in Greenpeace and environmental activists demonstration in Nairobi on June 12, 2019 against the construction of a coal power plant in Lamu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • It is intriguing that Kenyan authorities continue to allocate resources to fund coal exploration and mining.
  • The continued pursuit of coal exploration and mining by the people that are meant to protect these communities is a frustration to suffering Kenyan communities.
  • The billions allocated to mining of coal need to be redirected to ensure off-grid communities have access to energy from renewable resources that Kenya is endowed with.

It is exactly two years since the national environment tribunal cancelled the license for building a coal power plant in Lamu. Among the issues raised was the potential impacts of the coal power plant to the livelihoods of the local communities, the environment and health.

Burning of fossil fuels such as coal is the main cause of the rising global temperatures and the current climate crisis.

Kenya is faced with various climate disasters; droughts, floods, locusts and its people are at a loss. It is intriguing that Kenyan authorities continue to allocate resources to fund coal exploration and mining. Budgetary allocation of Sh1.3 billion to exploration and mining of coal is not a good use of resources to help communities that are facing a climate crisis.

The impacts of Covid-19 are being disproportionately felt by many Kenyans, coupled with the climate crisis and ever-increasing cost of living. The need to help Kenyans to rebuild their lives and livelihoods is at an all time high. Implementing measures that support and improve local production through enabling services, and products will help Kenyans to build resilience to shocks such as climate impacts and disruptions.

It is important that the government allocate funds and resources to measures that will ensure communities are building back better.

Many communities are voicing out concerns, including the Lamu and Kitui communities where the government has proposed to build a coal power plant and coal mining respectively. The continued pursuit of coal exploration and mining by the people that are meant to protect these communities is a frustration to suffering Kenyan communities.

Reliable and affordable energy from renewable sources in Kenya is needed to improve well-being. The billions allocated to mining of coal need to be redirected to ensure off-grid communities have access to energy from renewable resources that Kenya is endowed with.

Amos Wemanya, Greenpeace Africa campaigner.