Kenya: A Country That Thinks GreenMay 21, 2019
Some refreshingly good news about environmental conservation was published in a recent BBC News story, highlighting the many countries around the world where sustained ecological efforts are having a positive impact on the effects of climate change. One such country is Kenya.
The story details the latest results of the Good Country Index, an annual study that measures the “ecological footprint” of 153 different countries around the world (relative to their size), and rates them according to efficacy of their environmental initiatives. The 2018 index lists Kenya among the highest-ranked countries in terms of positive impact in the Planet & Climate category—a distinction it shares with far wealthier countries like Norway, Portugal, and New Zealand.
With its largely agricultural economy—and a steadily growing tourism industry, much of it focused around its wildlife-rich game parks—Kenya has taken pains to enact programs that preserve and improve the country’s ecological health. Among the most comprehensive has been the Climate Change Action Plan (launched in 2013), which outlined the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 through commitments to renewable energy and sustainable land-use management.
Another initiative that helped Kenya secure its Good Country Index ranking is the country’s ironclad ban on the use of plastic bags (one of the strictest in the world, threatening those who carry them with hefty fines and even incarceration). Since its introduction in 2017, the ban has had a measurably positive impact on the cleanliness of the country’s waterways, as well as its high-density communities (particularly around Nairobi).
It’s not just government policy that has influenced Kenya’s stance toward conservation, however. Local customs, especially among indigenous communities with strong ties to the land, have long embraced an ethos that protects the country’s natural resources, too.
For example, the Maasai—an ethnic group whose tribal territory extends across southern Kenya, and whose herding communities sit adjacent to the country’s game parks and safari lodges—understand that livelihood and the environment are intimately connected.
As John Kamanga, a Maasai elder and director of SORALO Conservancy in Kenya’s South Rift Valley, told the BBC, “When you hear Maasai people greet each other, the greetings happen in a series of exchanges. First, they discuss the environment—rainfall, grass health, water. Then, they discuss cattle. And, finally they inquire of each other’s family.
“The same set of traditional principles are used to manage all life,” said Kamanga. “Lack of a healthy environment means no cows, which means no kids, which means loss of traditional culture and an ancient way of life.”
At Micato, our Safari Directors and other staff in Kenya—all Kenyan nationals—are deeply familiar with the conservation-minded ideology embraced by their home country. By sharing these values with Micato travellers, our guests are able to cultivate a richer understanding of Kenyan culture, and to further spread the country’s gospel of green.