Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Climate Change
The EAC is home to the highest mountain in Africa – Kilimanjaro; the source of the Nile – longest river in Africa; Lake Victoria – the largest in-land fresh water body on the continent and the Serengeti National park. The EAC Treaty (Art. 111) recognizes the fact that development activities may have negative impact on the environment; yet a clean and healthy environment is a pre-requisite for sustainable development. The Partner States have undertaken to co-operate and adopt common policies for control of trans-boundary movements of toxic & hazardous waste, including nuclear materials.
Sustainable management of trans-boundary resources is best regulated at the regional level. The establishment of the Lake Victoria basin Commission (LVBC) hosted in Kisumu, Kenya, and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) hosted in Jinja, Uganda are remarkable steps towards achieving sustainability of ENR in the EAC region.
People at the local level do not benefit from resources extracted from their communities. Tanzania is endowed with gas and Uganda has oil but information on these minerals as well as related government contracts with foreign companies has not been readily accessible to citizens. There is concern over high risk of severe environmental degradation that may arise from extraction of these minerals with dire consequences on soil, agriculture, wildlife and tourism. The Existing information on ENR is complicated and content heavy for the consumption of ordinary citizens and thus access to information is not easy especially from line ministries at Party State level. There is non-compliance to ENR standards and laws, including double standards at individual PS level and yet capacity of CSOs to address ENR emerging issues such as climate change, GMO and sustainable development is insufficient. Some African countries have managed to enshrine natural resources in their constitutions; CSOs in the EAC will actively seek to draw lessons from Ghana, RSA and Botswana.
Agriculture is the major economic activity across the EA region, which ultimately depends on the environment (land, water, climate), but despite this there’s no protocol on agriculture within the EAC policy framework. Agricultural production and productivity in the EAC is largely constrained by natural factors, policy and adoption of technologies. The reasons for poor performance of the agricultural sector include: Policy related constrains factors; Poor Governance; Inadequate Legal and regulatory framework; Insecurity; Inadequate access to productive resources; Inadequate participation of local communities; Poor physical infrastructure and utilities; Weak institutional framework; Low public expenditure; Inadequate research, extension services and training; Prevalence of pests and diseases; High incidence of poverty and Inadequate social infrastructure, Gender inequality; Degradation of natural resources; Climatic and weather unpredictability.
Overall objective 4: To ensure that efficient natural resource management and environment protection are mainstreamed in all EAC processes and are sensitive to environment protection and climate change concerns of the people of EA. This will be achieved through the following strategies:
Strategies for Action on Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Climate Change by EAC CSOs:
Promote transparency and open governance with regular monitoring on compliance to ENR instruments and standards at regional and partner state levels;
Establishing a protocol on extractive industry initiatives within the EA region, valuing and accounting for ENRs. This will highlight policy & guidelines on exploitation of NR & equity in sharing costs and revenue with communities and EAC citizens;
Monitor and track implementation of ENR legislative instruments both at PS and regional levels
Formulate a comprehensive EAC protocol linking agriculture with environment and natural resources. A protocol that seeks to address sustainable environment and natural resources management, management of trans-boundary resources-water, forest, wildlife, marine and coastal life, minerals, energy and fisheries, soil and land use management, combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought, mitigating the effects of climate change, tourism development, pollution control and management, environmental standards, environmental education and capacity building, public participation and citizens access to information and justice;
CSOs will contribute to the development of EAC agricultural policy which has been harmonized with ENR in all Partner States and Enhancing food security, Tackling post harvest loss and agricultural value chains in the region
Review, develop minimum standards and advocate for harmonized legislative instruments such as the Polythene Bags Act. Across the EAC;
Improve EWS on environmental disasters – better weather forecast systems;
Promote the equitable use of Carbon Credit to support massive tree planting and reforestation in the EAC;
Enhance people’s participation in managing their ENR so as to give them a sense of ownership. Redirect policy design on ENRs to cater for the welfare of the people. The ENRs are found within communities and they have the right to enjoy the benefits derived from their own resources;
Gender dimension in ENR to be addressed with particular focus on women involvement in influencing key decisions as they are the ones in immediate contact with the environment and are the first victims of environmental degradation;
Campaigns, lobbying for environmental services, sensitization and awareness-raising on environmental issues, to help East African citizens become more aware on ENR as a result of organized civil society work at Partner State level;
CSO networking and collaboration with different environmental protection organizations at local, regional and international levels; training and knowledge sharing to enhance capacity development on environmental matters. Being a lobby forum, EACSOF will contribute to the domestication and compliance of Partner States to ENR commitments and international conventions.
Advocate for Harmonization of taxes and fiscal policies in the Extractive industry and transparency (Free prior information and consent), equitable distribution of compensation and benefits from extractive activities.