Saturday, February 19, 2011

How greenbelt zoning can save Kenya's arable land

The future of Nairobi conurbation looks like that map that Mutula Kilonzo tried to pull off but didn't manage. Everybody is in a hurry to extend Nai's reach to Thika, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado.
In the process, some of Kenya's most food productive land not to mention aesthetically please landscapes will disappear for good. The whiners will no doubt be wheeled to talk about GoK not responding quickly enough to flooding, droughts et al. The time to act is now before our food insecurity becomes acute driven by lack of enough arable land.

A greenbelt zoning does what it says on the tin. It puts a belt around designated green areas so as to protect them from planned (or in our case unplanned) buildings. In my humble opinion, Kiambu is a rich agriculture district that should be designated a green belt zone so that crop production can continue in the area. On the other hand, places like Karen should be opened up for further building.

Good economics is good politics, bad politics is bad economics

It can be said that Kenya's economy has grown the last 9 or so years. It can be said that Kenya has not known the kind of political we've had in the last 9 years.
But the economic growth has widened the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots". Secondly, it has not been a "jobs" growth whereby, the economy was absorbing jobless graduate, secondary leavers and of course KCPE-leavers. At an average of 4.5%, this means that once you take off the effect of 2.3% population growth, it has grown at a paltry 2.2%. Good enough for the West economies, not for a developing nation. The growth has also not been sustainable. With the exception of the telecom industry, other sectors remain dependant on exogenous factors (agriculture, tourism among our largest fx earners); in others such as manufacturing and infrastructure building, we are still dependant on foreign money or investment.

It has also been growth that has seen concomitant growth in corruption. It has not been felt by the majority of Kenyans in a positive way. Negatively yes because now staple foods and basic necessities are more expensive, but earnings have not kept up. Pour into the mix a very young population and really the growth looks anything but stellar.

Kibaki doesn't do politics. Politics is not just about being able to take smart political decisions, but also more importantly, being able to take the public pulse into on major decisions.
On both fronts, we are not giving ourselves the chance to grow.