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Definition of Natural Resource

A feature or component of the natural environment that is of value in serving human

needs, e.g. soil, water, wildlife, etc. Some natural resources have an economic value
(e.g. timber) while others have a 'non-economic' value (e.g. scenic beauty) 1.

Types of Natural Resources

Natural resources can be divided into several categories:

(1) Nature’s Goods

These are the traditional “extractable” resources, e.g.

- Fossil fuels: oil, coal, natural gas

- Metallic ores: iron, copper, silver, gold etc.

- Biological supplies: timber, fisheries, wild game, natural rubber

(2) Nature’s Services

These are essential services provided by nature for the continued, sustainable health
and well-being of our environment. These are typically considered “renewable”
resources, e.g.

- Soils for production

- Water and the hydrology cycle

- Air and purification of air

- Global carbon cycle

- Stratospheric ozone shield

(3) Natural Amenities

These are non-essential services provided by nature; may be considered “quality-of-

life” services, e.g.

- Recreation

- Aesthetics


1) Mineral resources


a) Gold
Kenya’s gold production was artisanal and small-scale. In December 2004, Muungano
Gold Prospecting Group of Kenya employed about 1,500 miners at six small-scale
gold mines in Lirhembe in the Kakamega District. Kansai Mining Corp. completed a
drilling program at Migori in southwestern Kenya in the second quarter of 2004.
Resources at Migori were estimated to be about 39 metric tons (t) of contained gold.
AfriOre Ltd. commenced a drilling program at Masumbi on the Ndori prospect in
western Kenya.
International Gold Exploration AB of Sweden held Lolgorien and other properties in
the western part of the country (Mining Journal, 2004; Oywa and Amadala, 2004;
M.J. Njeru, Mines and Geology Department, written commun., August 7, 2003).

b) Iron and Steel

Kenya mined small amounts of iron ore for use in cement production. The country’s
four rolling mills had a capacity of 220,000 metric tons per year (t/yr) and relied
upon imported billet. Madvhani Group of Uganda was considering the reopening of
Emco Steelworks and Emco Billets in Nairobi to provide a stable billet supply for its
rolling mill in Uganda. These plants have increased their profitability because of the
cessation of dumping of Russian and Ukrainian steel in East Africa (Metal Bulletin,

c) Titanium and Zirconium

Tiomin Resources Inc. of Canada held licenses for the Kilifi, Kwale, Mambrui, and
Vipongo heavy mineral sands deposits. The company planned to mine at Kwale;
Tiomin expected to begin the 20-month construction phase in the second quarter of
2005. During the first 6 years of the project, Tiomin was expected to produce
330,000 t/yr of ilmenite, 77,000 t/yr of rutile, and 37,000 t/yr of zircon. The
expected mine life was 13 years. Capital costs were estimated to be $120 million
(Tiomin Resources Inc., 2004a, b).

Industrial Minerals
a) Cement
Kenya has three cement producers.
i. Athi River Mining Ltd. (ARM)
ii. Bamburi Cement Ltd
iii. East African Portland Cement Co. Ltd
b) Diatomite
African Diatomite Industries Ltd. produce high-grade diatomite at Kariandusi and
Soysambu in the Nakuru District

c) Fluorspar
Mined by Kenya Fluorspar Ltd in the Kerio Valley; Most of the company’s production
is for export.
d) Gemstones
Kenya produced gemstones that included amethyst, aquamarine, cordierite, green
garnet (tsavorite),ruby, sapphire, and tourmaline. Rockland Kenya Ltd., which
operated the John Saul ruby mine, was the leading producer and exporter of ruby.
National ruby production fell to 2,310 kg in 2003 from 3,043 kg in 2002 and 4,001
kg in 1998. Corby Ltd. and Kwirintori Mining Society planned to mine ruby in the
Baringo District. In November 2004, the companies were discussing compensation
with residents of Baringo (Mkawale,2004; M.J. Njeru, Mines and Geology
Department, written commun., August 7, 2003).

e) Salt
Magadi Soda Ash Ltd. (a subsidiary of Brunner Mond Group Ltd.) extracts salt from
Lake Magadi as a byproduct of the soda ash production process
Soda Ash
Magadi mined trona from Lake Magadi.

Mining Sustainability
The Government through the Department of Mines and Geology in the Ministry of
Environment Natural Resources and Wildlife has prepared a mining policy and is in
the process of enacting a new mining law. The aim is to develop a comprehensive
policy framework for regulating the mining sector and an appropriate legal and fiscal
framework, which are in line with the current global mining trends. The proposed law
once enacted, will attract, guide and encourage private investments into the sector
as well as tap the country’s huge mineral potential. Under the envisaged mining law,
a new mining licensing system is to be introduced to provide for among others; a
simplified and harmonised licensing of mining operations, a considerably curtailed
discretion on the part of the Minister in charge of mining and a greater security of
tenure for mining investors.
The new law also seeks to harmonize mining with the Environment Management and
Coordination Act of 1999 and requires a restoration and rehabilitation of mined out
areas and cushioning of local communities against adverse effects of mining.

Exploitation of natural resources

Exploitation of natural resources is an essential condition of the human existence.

Throughout history, humans have manipulated natural resources to produce the
materials they needed to sustain growing human populations. This refers primarily to
food production, but many other entities from the natural environment have been
extracted. Often the exploitation of nature has been done in a non-sustainable way,
which is causing an increasing concern, as a non-sustainable exploitation of natural
resource ultimately threatens the human existence.

Impacts of exploitation of natural resources on the environment

 Species extinctions
 Land Resources:
 Deforestation
 Destruction of wetlands
 Desertification Soil erosion
 Declining oil and mineral supplies
 Marine Resources:

 Coastal degradation
 Overfishing

 Freshwater Resources:

 Groundwater contamination and depletion

 Surface water shortages

 Atmospheric Resources:

 Ozone Depletion

Root Causes

a. Overpopulation

With respect to the environment, many scientists would argue that there is no
greater single environmental threat than the continued growth of the human
population. The basis for this argument is that population affects so many
environmental issues: the use of natural resources, the amount of waste that is
pumped into the environment daily, the reduction of species habitat, the decimation
of species through hunting and fishing. Look at almost any environmental problem
and you’re likely to find human population growth playing a part in it.

Note that overpopulation is not simply too many people, but rather, more people
than the earth’s resources can support. Overpopulation may be defined as excessive
population of an area to the point of overcrowding, depletion of natural resources, or
environmental deterioration.

Although techniques for birth control are highly effective and well known in the more
developed countries, they are unknown, unavailable, or unacceptable to those people
having the most rapid rate of population growth - the ones who also live in the most
precarious balance with their environment. This does not mean that the prospects for
controlling population increase are poor; actually, they are better than at any time in
the past. But more education is needed to encourage people to limit the size of
families, and the prospects for economic and environmental betterment for those
who have fewer children must be made more obvious.

b. Inefficiency in resource utilisation

More than 300 million Africans still lack access to safe drinking water and 14
countries on the continent suffer from water scarcity. Out of 55 countries in the
world with domestic water use below 50 litres per person per day (the minimum
requirement set by the World Health Organization), 35 are in Africa.

Meanwhile, Africa has seemingly abundant water resources that are not being
efficiently utilised. With 17 large rivers and more than 160 major lakes, Africa only
uses about 4 per cent of its total annual renewable water resources for agriculture,
industry and domestic purposes. The challenge is getting water to where it is needed
most, affordably and efficiently. Currently, about 50 per cent of urban water is
wasted, as is 75 per cent of irrigation water.

In many larger cities of Asia and Latin America the total water produced by utilities is
very high, from 200–600 litres per person a day, but up to 70% is lost to leaks.

c. Over consumption

Many people think that the world could be on the edge of an environmental
breakdown due to the over consumption and misuse of natural resources.

One recent study, 'Beyond the Limits', uses computer modelling to try to predict
what the likely effects of our current life-style will be. As a basis for their research
the authors took current figures on rates of growth for population, resource use and
pollution. They then constructed a computer model and fed in figures for estimated
levels of non-renewable resources, land available for growing, the ability of the Earth
to absorb pollution, and other limiting factors. Also in the programme was
information regarding the way all these factors interact, for example the time delays
before effects of pollution occur. The programme was then run several times with
differing conditions or 'scenarios' imposed.

The Scenarios

What follows is vastly simplified, but illustrates the point. In scenario 1, which
assumes that everything in the world goes on as is, collapse (i.e. sudden,
uncontrolled decline in population and output) occurs, largely because of loss of non-
renewable resources.
So, in scenario 2, it is assumed that there are much larger quantities of non-
renewable resources. In scenario 2, the primary factor causing collapse are not
resources running out, but pollution, which massively decreases land fertility.

So, in scenario 3 it is assumed that pollution abatement technology makes a

successful decrease in pollution levels; but this time population grows until it is too
high to be fed.

In scenario 4 technologies to increase land yield of food is assumed however land

erosion causes a collapse. And so on...

The only scenario in which collapse does not occur is one in which there are:

- Limits to both material production and population, and

- Technologies increasing efficiency of resource use, decreasing

pollution, controlling erosion and increasing land yields.

While scientists can never predict exactly what will happen in the future, they can
usefully show us the likely consequences of our actions and the general direction in
which the planet is heading. We can then draw conclusions and take actions based
on their findings.

d. Poverty

Conventional thinking on poverty and environment includes assumptions that are

increasingly being called into question:

- Poverty needs to be eradicated in developing countries before they

can turn their attention to environmental protection; and

- Poverty and environment are linked in a "downward spiral" in which

poor people forced to overuse environmental resources for their daily survival
are further impoverished by the degradation of these resources. Population
growth and economic change are also seen to contribute to this process.

In addition, many of the environmental problems that have been identified in the
international arena as the world’s most pressing are not those that affect poor people
in developing countries most severely. For example, lack of sanitation and clean
water (rather than issues that preoccupy developed countries, such as ozone
depletion and global warming) – are arguably the worst environmental problems in
the developing world.

Many donors and policy-makers (especially since the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development, UNCED) have begun to embrace more localized,
community-based approaches to natural resource management and sustainable
development. This approach is informed by an understanding that the various groups
in a society often experience environmental problems in very different ways.

They are also advocating an alternative, approach to understanding the relationship

between poverty and the environment, which shifts the emphasis from questions of
resource availability to those of access, control and management. This means
increasingly searching for ways in which policy interventions can achieve objectives
to promote poverty eradication and sound environmental management, thus creating
"win-win" situations for poor people and the environments in which they live.
e. Ineffective Structures (Human Institutions, Regulations
and Attitudes)

Considering the potential of new technology and the accompanying advances in

science, it is possible to foresee a world in which a relatively stable human
population can live at a high level of material affluence, with wild nature continuing
to exist in abundance and relatively undisturbed lands available for human
enjoyment. But this optimistic point of view is not supported by existing world

Because knowledge now available is more than adequate to solve most of the world's
major environmental problems, the problems are not those of science and
technology but of the arrangements and functioning of human institutions and of the
attitudes of individuals.

Thus, while research in science continues in all the universities and other schools of
the world, tropical forests and coral reefs are being devastated in ways that suggest
that the science of these natural objects are still unknown. Although the techniques
for managing livestock have reached a high level of sophistication, overexploitation
continues around most of the world's major pasturelands, deserts and oceans, and
animals die of hunger, people suffer from deprivation, and the deserts spread.
Obviously, the knowledge available does not reach or influence the behaviour of most
of the people on our planet.

A key point is the failure of most societies to exercise adequate controls over land,
water, and other resource use. Effective means for controlling land use do not exist
in most countries; laws and regulations that permit governments to exercise such
control, when existent, often cannot be enforced because of strong public
resentment and resistance. Although it is essential that lands and all other resources
be used with a view to preserving their future productivity, this view often conflicts
with present needs or demands of the resource users. The solution to this conflict is
not within the scope of science or technology; instead, it is a question of attitudes
and values and these are more difficult to change than laws or regulations.

For many people an environmental crisis of this complexity and scope is not only the
result of certain economic, political, and social factors. It is also a moral crisis which,
in order to be addressed, will require broader philosophical and religious
understandings of ourselves as creatures of nature, embedded in life cycles and
dependent on ecosystems. Religions may need to be re-examined in light of the
current environmental crisis. This is because religions help to shape our attitudes
toward nature in both conscious and unconscious ways. Religions provide basic
interpretive stories of who we are, what nature is, where we have come from, and
where we are going. Religions also suggest how we should treat other humans and
how we should relate to nature. These values make up the ethical orientation of a

Water Sustainability

Special water programmes involved in water resources conservation, dam

construction, water rights research, flood control and land reclamation. Some of the
major water projects that continued to be developed jointly by the government and
donors include the Community Management of Water Resources.
In its efforts to provide clean water to the public, the Government in collaboration
with other stakeholders continued with the maintenance of Water Purification Points
(WPP) and drilling of boreholes across the country A total of 47 boreholes were
drilled during the 2003/2004 financial year. Rift Valley province had the highest
number of drilled boreholes followed by Eastern as shown in the table. The number
of water purification points has not changed in the last five years.
Fisheries Sustainability

Fish continues to play an important role not only as a source of food and income for
local fishing communities but also for the export market. The Government has
directly put in place a task force to develop a comprehensive fisheries policy that will
guide the sector towards the MDGs. It will also take cognizance of all environmental
issues and within the framework of the Economic Recovery Strategy paper.
The tonnage of freshwater fish landed increased by 15.2 per cent from 121,366
tonnes in 2002 to 139,811 tonnes in 2003. The downward trend, which has been
witnessed since 1999 has been reversed due to, increases in fish landed in Lake Jipe,
Lake Naivasha, Tana River dams and Lake Victoria with respective increases of 23.1
per cent, 15.8 per cent, 18.3 per cent and 15.7 per cent. Lake Victoria continued to
dominate by contributing 94.8 per cent of all the freshwater fish landed in 2003.
Lake Baringo, for a second year running was under a ban on fishing imposed by the
Department of Fisheries as a conservation measure.

How can natural resources be managed sustainably?

Cost of resource use to ecosystems

a) Environmental cost of extraction of raw materials: - disruption to environment,

b) Environmental cost of transformation of raw materials into useable end product: -
c) Environmental cost of disposal after use: - waste, pollution 2

Category Action Management

Ecosystem Strategies for conservation of Sustainable harvesting of wild
Preservation biodiversity and the genetic plant and animal species,
Protected areas, national parks,
wildlife reserves, gene banks
Conservation strategies and International organizations e.g.
legislation UNEP, IUCN, WWF, CITES

Local environmental organizations

Population Strategies for managing Family planning, improved health
Management population growth and education, national policies

Strategies for managing the Planning, environmental

urban and rural environments improvement, community

Strategies for overcoming Improved trade and aid

world inequalities conditions, governmental and
non-governmental aid, food aid

Managing tourism National Parks, ecotourism

Land Strategies for soil Tree planting, terracing,
Resources conservation contouring, windbreaks,
Management community participation
Sustainable forest Agroforestry, mixed tree planting,
management techniques reforestation, sustainable
harvesting of hardwoods, fuel/fire
wood planting

Alternatives to deforestation more efficient use of timber,

recycling (paper/timber),
alternative materials to timber;
alternative materials for “yam

Constraints in Resource Management

1. To date, resources have been exploited under customary systems and have
appeared to be limitless. In the new context of resource depletion and
population pressures, new attitudes need to be developed, to allow for
sustainable use of our natural resources.

While problems and issues are well recognised and there is some increase in
community concern over sustainable resource use in many countries, in most
cases, unfortunately, there is no perceived need to address the problems and
issues involved and no sense of urgency to find and implement solutions. The
values of natural resource stocks are not quantified in economic terms. At the
grassroots community level, many resources are still perceived as “free” and
“without limit.” There is a lack of public awareness, of the potential scarcity of
the resources involved. Partly resulting from this lack of knowledge or
awareness, and hence lack of pressure, resources are being liquidated for
immediate economic gain rather than being managed sustainably.

3. A second and difficult constraint in developing and maintaining sustainable

natural resource management techniques is the limitation of manpower to
enforce environmental laws and regulations.

4. Lack of funding to tackle unsustainability.

5. Financial and social pressures. Population concentration and economic

pressures may make resource management more difficult. 11

Possible Actions for Natural Resource Management

Management is not about the provision of a ready-made list of solutions. Rather it is

about the creation of a framework or environment, which enables the assessment of
issues. This requires close consultation with the local population, and the
development (and continual revision or improvement) of effective strategies and
plans to maintain the balance between resource usage and conservation.

The practice of sustainable resource management should take place mostly at the
local community level by those using the resources, rather than by officials who may
have little or no direct involvement with the community.

Often local communities have not been involved or consulted in the resource
planning process. In future, opportunities must be provided for local or village
communities to develop/acquire knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of
conserving and managing resources, and to evaluate for themselves the relative
costs and benefits of different uses.
The most important factor determining whether individuals or communities will
manage natural resources sustainably is whether or not they perceive that it is in
their interest to do so. This also applies to landowners, who should also be closely
involved in discussions on more sustainable management.

· Means of Implementing Actions

(1) Involving resource owners

Action both at national and regional level is essential to involve those who have a
stake in resources, in the research, planning, and management process. Actions
could involve the following:

· Ensuring that local communities, are well represented in national

planning bodies or at least kept informed of, and invited to contribute to the
planning process

· Seeking comments and inputs from local communities on draft

strategies and programmes

· Creating a mechanism by which communities can assess their own

performance and share experience and knowledge with others

(2) Raising awareness and promoting knowledge

Programmes need to be implemented and maintained to fully inform communities

about the value of resources. Actions could involve the following:

· Utilising the media to promote awareness of benefits and costs, using

professional communicators sensitive to local communities

· Integrating environmental education into school curricula- especially

primary schools

(3) Institutional Arrangements

· National Leadership

Sustainable management of natural resources is essentially a local and

national responsibility, since the issues and actions to be taken are addressed
in each country.

Commitment of the wider community to national programmes is granted only

when the government uses resources sustainably and applies good
governance. Good governance implies that actions and initiatives are made
known in advance to the general public, that different social groups be
represented at national and local decision-making. If government bodies are
perceived as wasteful or irresponsible in their use of the resources,
communities will naturally adopt a similar attitude.