The wide environmental management in Kenya is in the hands of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a parastatal within the ministry of environment and mineral resources. However environment being a multisectoral phenomenon, there are several other government agencies that play a role as they manage their sectors. These include:
a. Ministry of public health and sanitation-environmental health including; Public Health, the working environment radiation control and management of hazardous wastes.
b. Ministry of water development-through management of water resources utilization.
c. Ministry of Local government-through management of urban environments by urban councils.
d. Ministry of forestry and wild life-anti poaching and deforestation
e. Ministry of Agriculture-Controls farming practices to prevent soil erosion in areas with sloppy land.
The current environmental issues of concern in Kenya currently:
1. Water pollution from urban and industrial water-this affects major urban areas like Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa etc. Decline of flamingoes in L. Nakuru has been attributed to this cause.
2. Degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers-this affects the agricultural areas and upsets ecosystems of local water systems e.g. L.Naivasha
3. Water hyacinth infestation in L. Victoria.
4. Solid waste management and disposal-Is a major challenge for the major urban areas.
5. Deforestation, desertification and soil erosion: these are intertwined and is blamed for climatic changes and depletion of water catchment areas
Water resources are under pressure from agricultural chemicals and urban and industrial wastes, as well as from use for hydroelectric power. Kenya expects a shortage of water to pose a problem in the coming years. Water-quality problems in lakes, including water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria, have contributed to a substantial decline in fishing output and endangered fish species.
Water pollution from urban and industrial wastes poses another environmental problem. Kenya has 20.2 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources with 76% used in farming activity and 4% used for industrial purposes. Only about 42% of the residents in rural areas and 88% of city dwellers have pure drinking water.
Output from forestry also has declined because of resource degradation. Overexploitation over the past three decades has reduced the country’s timber resources by one-half. At present only 2% of the land remains forested, and an estimated 50 square kilometres of forest are lost each year. This loss of forest aggravates erosion, the silting of dams and flooding, and the loss of biodiversity. Among the endangered forests are Kakamega Forest, Mau Forest and Karura Forest. In response to ecological disruption, activists have pressed with some success for policies that encourage sustainable resource use. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize went to the Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, best known for organizing a grassroots movement in which thousands of people were mobilized over the years to plant 30 million trees in Kenya and elsewhere and to protest forest clearance for luxury development.
Deforestation and soil erosion are attributable to growing population pressure, which creates increased demands for food production and firewood. Drought and desertification (to which 83% of Kenya's land area is vulnerable) also threaten potential productive agricultural lands. By the mid 1980s, Kenya had lost 70% of its original mangrove areas, with the remainder covering an estimated 53,000–62,000 hectares. In addition to pollutants from industry, the nation's cities produce about 1.1 million tons of solid wastes.
There are a wide variety of wildlife species in Kenya, whose habitats are threatened by encroachment of man. The late Michael Werikhe aka Rhino Man, pioneered Kenyan wildlife conservation. Werikhe walked thousands of miles and raised millions of dollars to fund White Rhino conservation projects. The Blue Wildebeest is currently abundant, but like other more endangered species feels the pressure of habitat reduction. In an effort to preserve wildlife, the government has set aside a sizable acreage as national parks and game preserves. In 2001, 6% of Kenya's total land area was protected. Game hunting and trade in ivory and skins have been banned, but poaching threatens leopards, cheetahs, lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, and other species. As of 2001, 43 species of mammals and 24 bird species were endangered and 130 plant species were threatened with extinction. Endangered species include the Sokoke scops owl, Taita blue-banded papilio, Tana River mangabey, Tana River red colobus, green sea turtle, and hawksbill turtle. There are 18 extinct species, including the Kenyan rocky river frog and the Kenya oribi.