How civil society in Kwale is shaping environmental law making

The County Government of Kwale has just passed a new Forest Conservation and Management Act. The Kwale County Natural Resource Network has become a key grassroots stakeholder in shaping this process, promoting public participation in the sustainable management of natural resources.

When Kenya adopted its new constitution in 2010, much responsibility for managing natural resources was devolved to the newly established county governments. The decision to devolve also allowed local communities and civil society organisations greater participation in governing the use of natural resource within their county. The Kwale County Natural Resource Network (KCNRN), formed in 2011, has seized this opportunity and become the key grassroots stakeholder in promoting the sustainable management of natural resources in Kwale County.

KCNRN coordinator Mohammed Ali told the V-LED project team: the network mobilises communities to play an active role in the formulation of policies and legislations: “we are empowering the citizens of Kwale to participate in policy and budget making processes, (…) for their voices to be heard during planning sessions”.

The network is actively involved in reviewing, commenting and drafting county polices. In doing that, they also play a critical role in fighting the impacts of climate change in their county.

Kwale Government passes new Forest Conservation and Management Act

Recently their lobby and advocacy work has contributed to another decisive step – says KCNRN chairmen Nathanial Mwangekas : “One of the local climate actions that we as a network with other partners have been engaged in, is coming up with a policy: the Kwale County Forest Conservation and Management Act - which is in place now. It even has the component of a tree planting week (…) the target is one million a year. (…) We also have capacity buildings whereby we involve kaya elders who sustainably manage the forests - the kaya forests are the indigenous forests”.

We are happy that the V-LED project was able to support this process through its GPE and dialogue event on climate change and forest governance.

This great achievement for sustainable natural resource governance in Kwale motivates for more, Nathanial Mwangekas: “In meetings when the county is preparing the county spatial plan and the integrated county development plan - we remind them that they should ensure issues to do with the SDGs and climate change are considered. Without capturing them at the planning stage they will never be addressed.”

So what is the next step? Together with ILEG, the KUZA-team Imarisha Vijana Alliance and the V-LED project – KCNRN will develop and advocate for a climate change bill for Kwale County. Way to go!