OPINION

Create jobs but not at expense of nature

Calls for the youth to be more innovative instead of relying on salaried employment are valid. The latest such challenge was by Ezekiel Mutua, Kenya Film Classification Board bo ss. With hundreds of thousands of youth stranded and unemployment said to be over 30 per cent, the danger signs are obvious and get reflected in rising poverty levels, insecurity and related acts of social delinquency hence the need for creativity.

Much has been said of dysfunctional system that is not preparing the youth adequately for real-life education or arm them with the skills required for the limited jobs available in the labour market. These are issues which must worry everybody. The decision to lay more emphasis on technical and vocational training institutions is premised on this emergent reality’.

However, a rarely discussed but potentially devastating impact of unemployment is environmental damage which finds expression in unsustainable and reckless exploitation of natural resources as people seek means to just get by.

These are concerns we must address ourselves to, even as the youth are encouraged to stop being dependent on salaried employment or advised to keep off betting that leads to addiction and imperative for instant gratification.

Unless checked, the damage will go well beyond salvaging given the current pace of denigration. Natural resources are not infinite and Kenyans must rethink dependence on economic activities with short term benefits such as sand harvesting, ballast quarrying, earth brick making and charcoal burning. Indeed even mass trading in imported second-hand apparels is bound to impact adversely on cotton fanning as the country looks forward to re-opening textile firms that stalled decades ago.

Throughout the country, river beds are being stripped bare through sand excavation. Those doing so even if subconsciously, justify reckless hacking down of trees to burn charcoal even when the commercial returns are pitiful. More trees are cut down to bake bricks. It’s not sustainable!

So there is need for circumspection as youth are encouraged to be innovative. Unemployment restricts opportunity and capacity for sensitivity to the environment because needy folks have limited alternatives except exploit the closest natural resources even as the impact cumulatively degrades an already fragile environment. We must stop draining Mother Nature’s capacity to support mankind.

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