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Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary, Prof Judi Wakhungu Monday launched the formulation of Kenya’s first-ever National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy in Nairobi.
Prof Wakhungu also the inaugurated a national steering to provide policy direction, high-level guidance and general oversight in the process to ensure ownership and buy-in. The committee is chaired by the Conservation Secretary Mr Gideon Gathara.
The launch of the formulation is in line with the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 and will be aligned to the Vision 2030 development blueprint and other relevant policy and legal frameworks, including SDGs, AICHI target 11, Medium Term Plan 3. It comes shortly after finalizing the national wildlife policy, which is before the National Assembly.
The five-year strategy (2018-2022) is intended to guide the country on how wildlife will be protected, conserved and managed and sustainably utilized taking into account the three land regimes – public, community and private lands in addition to the conservation models(s) and innovation and current challenges.
It sets national targets and indicators for viable and sustainable wildlife and habitat conservation over the coming decade and secures wildlife habitats, dispersal areas and corridors and promote evidence-based integrated planning to enhance wildlife conservation across terrestrial, fresh-water and marine environments;
Stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and strengthen the inter-agency collaboration in the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) in dealing with illegal wildlife trade besides addressing and mitigating Human Wildlife Conflicts. It also establishes and implements national long-term wildlife conservation and management funding and monitoring and reporting systems; and strengthens cooperative management of wildlife resources by the national and County Governments, communities, individual landowners and other stakeholders.
Prof Wakhungu said the strategy will be expected to deal with chronic issues within the wildlife sector such as lack of recognition of wildlife as a land use and a major driver of the economy, increase in human wildlife conflicts and challenges in achieving an integrated wildlife management approach.
Further, the strategy will address the degradation and fragmentation of habitats and loss of ecosystem functions, effects of climate change, the spread of invasive species and outbreaks of epizootic diseases and unco-ordinated research in wildlife conservation.
Prof Wakhungu said the strategy should “recognize the emerging opportunities that exist in wildlife as a land use by promoting participatory land use planning in wildlife corridors and dispersal areas in community and private land; providing innovative benefit sharing and conflict resolution mechanisms and engaging in social contracts with communities to increase spacer for wildlife with shared liabilities.”
“It should also explore innovative ways of education and awareness not only to our communities but to various ties of our government to reduce conflicting sectoral policies and adequate financial support to our conservation agenda,” she added.
The State Department of Natural Resources Principal Secretary Dr Margaret Mwakima said various challenges and threats facing wildlife conservation are in captured various documents, including KWS Policy Framework and Five-Year Development Program (1991), The Wildlife Security Taskforce Report (2014, the Draft Wildlife Policy (2017), the Strategy Scoping Report (2016) and the Draft Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy (2017).
Dr Mwakima said the strategy would consider the underlying drivers to these threats such land use change, urbanization, human population increase, agricultural expansion and intensification, climate change and extreme events and come up with a framework to implement within the next five years.
The strategy formulation process is being spearheaded and coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development though a cooperative agreement signed between the U.S. Department of Interior and The African Conservation Centre for technical and financial cooperation.
This process will build on past and present policies, practices, regulations, amendments, and strategies to ensure coherence.
The process will review existing strategies and document best practices nationally and internationally, use focus group discussions, seek technical input from experts, organize key stakeholder consultations and broad public participation.
Meetings covering all the 47 counties have been convened beginning with Nairobi (June 19), Nanyuki (June 22), Wajir (June 29), Kisumu (June 30), Nakuru (July 3) and Mombasa July 5.
Last week Prof Wakhungu also published a gazette notice on the process calling on the public to submit written memoranda to wildlifestrategy@environment. go.ke
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Photo: Daily Nation
Voter registration (file photo).analysisBy Nic Cheeseman
The race for State House in Kenya is heating up. After a long period during which President Uhuru Kenyatta looked a shoo-in for re-election, the presidential race is looking increasingly competitive.
Although the most reliable polls still give the incumbent a strong lead of around 6% the main opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, has the greater momentum. Following a year in which his poll ratings hovered between 20% and 30%, Odinga has been buoyed by the confirmation that he will be the flag bearer of the main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA). Other prominent alliance leaders have also said they will back his candidacy.
The closer the race becomes, the more Kenyans and those who care about the country will start to worry about election rigging. Both candidates have committed themselves to free and fair polls, but many Kenyans still fear that the process may not be credible.
In large part, this scepticism is a legacy of the events of 2007/8, when flawed polls led to post-election violence that took the lives of over 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Although the 2013 polls were much more peaceful, the process also suffered from a number of shortcomings which led the opposition to reject the official results.
Without prejudging whether the 2017 contest will be clean or not, it's therefore important to ask how the election might be rigged, and how this could be stopped.
Technology, inflating turnout and fiddling figures
Here are four ways that elections could be rigged.
1. Bring down the technology
In the 2013 elections, the technology used to safeguard the process failed systematically. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission fell back on manual processes. This meant there was no fingerprint verification to ascertain that the right people were voting, and were only voting once. The breakdown of the technology, and the potential for the manual process to be abused, was a central part of the opposition's election petition.
Odinga and his colleagues campaigned to make the use of biometric technology compulsory in the run-up to this election. But resistance from the government means that the commission retains the right to fall back on a manual system if the technology breaks down.
This is worrying for two reasons. First, candidates who fear they are losing and know that manual processes are less well insulated from manipulation have an incentive to make the technology fail. Second, technological problems will be interpreted as a sign of rigging whether or not they are, undermining confidence in the process.
2. Inflate turnout in North-Eastern
Electoral turnout in the north-eastern region of Kenya has traditionally been poor. This is because of low population density and the fact that the region has historically been politically and economically marginalised. Given this, the high official turnout of over 80% in 2013 surprised many. There were suspicions that the turnout may have been artificially inflated by adding ballot papers in the name of voters who did not actually go to the polls.
Ballot box stuffing in the north-eastern part is particularly viable, because it's the most remote part of the country. It is also an area prone to terrorist attacks. As a result, it is a place that international election monitors tend not to visit, which opens to the door to electoral abuse.
3. Set up fake polling streams
Many Kenyan polling stations are split up into a number of "streams" to allow people to be processed more quickly. Another allegation about the 2013 election is that in some cases fake polling streams were set up so fraudulent votes could be added. In other words, the suggestion is that while real voters cast their ballots in one or two real polling streams, the ballots of people who had not turned out were artificially added to a made-up stream and then submitted.
This would be a smart way to rig an election. While the figures for polling stations are often recorded, the exact figures for polling streams are quickly lost. Indeed, because the results from polling streams are merged to generate polling station totals, which are then merged to generate constituency totals, it is possible to hide suspicious results from a stream - such as turnout in excess of 100% - because once everything is collated the final result may not look that exceptional.
4. Fiddle the figures
One of the classic forms of election rigging is to change the results as they are being transferred from the polling station or constituency level to the national tallying centre. In 2013, the failure of a new results transmission system run through a mobile phone app generated concerns about electoral manipulation during the vote tallying process. This was especially when it became clear that in some cases the security forces had been deployed to bring results back to Nairobi.
This was also a major source of concern in 2007. European Union monitors found that there were serious discrepancies between the results they observed being released locally and those that were subsequently read out nationally.
How to stop election rigging
There may be no plans afoot to rig the elections, but in matters of such great importance it's better to be safe than sorry. So how can the process be safeguarded?
When it comes to the risk of the vote being inflated in North Eastern, the answer is straightforward: international election monitors need to overcome their risk aversion and ensure that the region is thoroughly covered. Deploying a parallel vote tabulation based on a sample of polling stations would also make it possible to tell whether turnout is artificially high.
The solution to the fiddling of election figures is also straightforward, although it will require political will. If the electoral commission agrees to accept the constituency level results as final - unless there are exceptional cases that would require a full and transparent investigation - domestic observers and the different political parties will be able to record all of the results as they are announced, and use these to ensure that the national total adds up.
That leaves the more tricky issues of fake polling streams and the breakdown of election technology. It is tempting to think that the solution to a breakdown is a technical one - that if the electoral commission learns from its previous mistakes it will be possible to ensure that the system works. But if the threat to the electoral process is political rather than logistical, better preparations will not help.
It is therefore important for every party to deploy a full set of trained party agents, not just in every polling station but also in every polling stream. This will ensure that the manual process cannot be abused even if the technology fails, and it will enable any fake polling streams to be identified and reported.
This conclusion is probably not one that the parties themselves will want to hear because it involves a lot of hard work and expense. But it is the only thing that will guarantee that the outcome of the election represents the will of the people.
Nic Cheeseman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.Read More »
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