Improving Public Participation And Consultation In Environmental Impact Assessment (Eia)
Public participation should be an integral part of environmental management. Regulation is more effective when regulators and proponents are constantly exposed to the public’s opinions and perspectives. Most higher income countries or the global north have somehow found a workable way to incorporate public opinions in decision making concerning projects that affect the environment, while in Kenya the legislation on public participation is still quite new and there is still a long way to go. This study sought to assess whether public participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process of the different projects in different sectors of the economy in Nairobi County is sufficient and how this participation influences environmental decisions as relating to a specific project, and how this can be improved. This study also examined the barriers to public participation and consultation and sought for ways to minimise these barriers. This study used multiple methodological techniques, including document review for documents/ case files obtained from NEMA and questionnaires for data collection. It also employed calculations based methods using chi square. The chi square was used to defend the null hypotheses on barriers to public participation and to find out if there were significant variations of public participation in the different economic sectors in Nairobi County. It was evident from the findings that there are various limitations such as poor dissemination of information, the use of language that locals do not understand, unwillingness to participate and political influence. Increased participation in the public meetings or feedback from the public about the project does not necessarily translate to those opinion considered in the final decision making. For the public to feel motivated to participate regarding these projects then there need to be improvements in how to engage them. This study recommends the use of other media outlets in addition to the print media. Radio and television are widely used than the print media in Kenya. The social media is also a good platform that is quickly gaining popularity among the youth, this could also be explored. The use of other languages in addition to English should be explored. There is also the need to explore further the element of public participation and consultation in the Legal notice 101 and spell out penalties of those who would not adhere to public participation and consultation.
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