Kenyans—like all people on Earth—depend on nature to sustain their lives and livelihoods. Not only do they obtain the basic goods needed for survival, such as water, food, and fiber, they also rely on nature to purify air and water, produce healthy soils, cycle nutrients, and regulate climate. Collectively, these benefits derived from nature’s systems are known as ecosystem services. They fuel the Kenyan economy and, if wisely used and invested, build the nation’s wealth.
Nature’s Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Well-Being was released in Nairobi in late May 2007 and early June 2007.
About the Atlas
The Atlas overlays georeferenced statistical information on population and household expenditures with spatial data on ecosystems and their services (water availability, wood supply, wildlife populations, and the like) to yield a picture of how land, people, and prosperity are related in Kenya.
About 80 percent of Kenyans derive their livelihoods from agricultural activities. Agriculture contributes, directly and indirectly, to about 53 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Other contributions of ecosystem services to the economy come from tourism based on Kenya’s natural endowment of wildlife, mountains, rangelands, beaches, and coral reefs; as well as timber production from forests; and fish catches from lakes, rivers, and the Indian Ocean.
Attaining development goals means that policymakers and civil-society groups need to access information and analysis on the numerous interconnections among environmental resources, human well-being, and economic expansion. The maps and analyses presented in this Atlas are a first attempt to provide such information.
This information is now being used to develop poverty-reduction programs and to design policies for water-resources management, agriculture production, biodiversity preservation, and charcoal production, among others. The maps can be targeted to specific geographic areas of the country, focusing on the poor, and making better use of Kenya’s natural resources.
Highlights From the Official Launch
Partners in the Kenyan government are very excited about the possibilities for reducing poverty and using the environment more sustainably in their country.
Anthony K.M. Kilele, Director of Statistics, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
Godfrey Ndeng’e, Principal Economist/Statistician, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
Jaspat L. Agatsiva, Director, Kenya Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing
Norbert Henninger, Senior Associate at WRI, and Mohammed Said, Research Scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), sat down for a 13-minute Q & A discussion of how the atlas (and one currently in production for Uganda) can improve lives in Kenya.