EFFECTS OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE THIKA SUPERHIGHWAY

I am seated inside the post modern library  in Kenyatta university in second floor. If i look through the window to my right, it is a Saturday afternoon and cars are lazily racing the Thika superhighway. The once two lane highway has been upgraded to an eight lane road. This has greatly uplifted the economy of Kenya. The road stretches from the capital Nairobi city to Thika town, the second developed town in Kenya after the capital city.

Completion of this superhighway however had adverse effects on the environment. This comes as a result of machinery used in the construction. During the construction,serious environmental degradation was done. This can be witnessed near Juja town where the road has to pass underground.

Noise pollution was also witnessed. This came as a result of the machines and the rocks being split. As a result of this, many of the locals complained of complications in their hearing ability.

Air pollution was also witnessed in nearly the entire stretch of the superhighway. Dust from the ground and rocks being crushed by the massive machines caused the place to be like hell on earth. This as usual caused many locals to complain of respiratory complications  of which the government did not address.

Despite all the negative effects about the construction of the superhighway, the Kenyan economy has greatly improved due to the construction of this road. Goods and services are now able to reach the market in time. This can be attributed to the former president Mwai Kibaki.

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN THE COAST REGION

Lack of cutting plans escalates problem of mangrove forest in Kenya. The government agencies vetted with management of mangrove and other forests in Kenya lacks adequate resources of implementing management guidelines. In most cases therefore,selective removal of quality poles  of suitable species has tended to leave out those of inferior species unsuitable for the market, Quality poles have been wiped out in most mangrove areas of Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi districts where population is highest along the coast.

Salt extraction has also led to loss of mangrove forest. Currently, there are more than six salt workers in Ngomeni where most extraction is carried out in Kenya. Landing 71400 tonnes of salt per year, Environmental impacts associated with salt extraction include hyper salinity in areas close to mangrove leading to their death.

Poor land use practices in hinterland has increased sediments into mangrove,forest and water leading to siltation of breathing roots of trees and eventual death of system.

Another problem facing Kenyan forest, mangrove and water resources is oil pollution. For instance,between 1983 and 1993, Mombasa port and surrounding waters experienced 391680  tonnes of oil spill that affected mangrove of port Ritz and Makupa creeks.

A new threat to mangrove in East Africa is projected sea-level rise due to climate change. Climate change impacts are also associated with increased flooding,sedimentation and aridity. Since coastal areas where mangrove occur is low lying land, a small increase in sea level will mean that mangrove will submerge unless they can migrate to new areas mainland.

Looking at the Kenyan coast,most areas where mangrove could migrate to are already occupied by human settlement and/ or infrastructure. Evidence of death of mangrove due to climate change impacts has been observed in several areas along the coast such as Gazi, Mwache creek, Ngomeni, Tana river and Dodori creek.

Major problem facing the management of forest and mangrove forests in Kenya is the lack of base line data and information for the development of comprehensive management plan and limited community participation in mangrove management. Unlike the terrestrial forestry,little attention has been given to mangrove forestry.

Secondly due to lack of resources, their is limited monitoring of harvesting system used by forest and mangrove cutters. There is need to set up sustainable management of this vital ecosystem. This could be achieved by participatory management approach where all stake holders especially the community is involved.

The situation was worsened during the 1997/98 El Nino rains that hit the country causing massive death of mangrove forests. Water resources were also degraded,

Poverty is another problem. Approximately 68% of the people are poor prompting them to exploit the immediate environment for their survival. Mangrove and forest resources are over used leading to their extinction.

Socio-economic changes and population pressure interfere with existing eco-system resulting in extinction of bio-diversity and migration of some species to Eco systems elsewhere.

Changes in ecosystems functions and climatic conditions that eventually impact negatively on local people, for example Kilifi district has experienced changes in climatic conditions that has affected agricultural practices and resulted in food insecurity in the region.

IMPORTANCE OF DRINKING WATER FROM A CLEAN GLASS

Water is one of the things we cannot do without. It is therefore important to ensure that it is safe for use in every purpose it serves.

In  most secondary and primary  schools in Kenya, the administration of schools does not take in to consideration  the safety and cleanliness of  water the pupils and students consume. This calls in for parents and guardians to ensure that their children drink clean water.

In most of these schools it is common to see children drink water straight from the flowing taps. Children rush to the taps and carelessly  wash their hands then drink water from their hands. This is very unhygienic.

Drinking straight from the taps can cause serious ill health in our children. Diseases such as cholera,typhoid and amoeba are likely to creep in, these may require parents to take the young ones to hospital which may be expensive.

The habit of drinking from the hands can also have its longterm effects. In most secondary schools in Kenya, students mostly apply lotions to themselves using their hands. Some of these lotions are known to have harmful  ingredients which can be toxic when  consumed. When these students fail to thoroughly wash their hands, these ingredients can be taken into the body. Examples of these ingredients are,parabens and phthalates which are carcinogenic(can cause cancer). This can contribute to ill health during old age.

It is therefore advisable for parents and guardians in primary schools to ensure there children go to school with clean drinking water in clean drinking bottles.After all PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE