Target: Geoffrey Wakhungu, General Director for the National Environmental Authority (NEMA)
Goal: End environmentally and socially devastating salt mining operations in Kenya
While the salt processing industry in Kenya is thriving, the environment is being degraded and the economy depleted. To sell wood fuel to miners, poverty-stricken residents are cutting down old cashew nut and mango trees for menial amounts of money. Salt mining is expanding and the demand for wood is rising. According to a worker at one of the salt mines in Gongoni, Magarini, the factory can consume up to 500 tons of wood per day, which amounts to 15,000 tons per month and 180,000 tons per year. Simply put, salt factories are capitalizing on the vulnerability of the locals at the expense of the environment.
Neither the residents nor mining companies are replanting the trees, and the mines are turning the region into a desert wasteland. The salt companies (Kensalt, Krystalline Gongoni, KEMU Salt, Malindi Salt, Kraystalline Marereni and Kurawa Salt Firm) have also allegedly been clearing forests to make way for salt drying ground, further devastating the land. In addition to the environmental concerns, salt mining in Kenya’s Kilifi County is also posing hazards to human health. Salt miners in Magarini often work with no protective gear and and are exposed to toxic chemicals in exchange for poor wages.
At this time, the mining companies have been ordered to halt all use of firewood until an alternative source of fuel is agreed upon. Community leaders have voiced opposition to the salt companies’ expansion into new land and contamination of scarce water resources in the area. But this temporary halt is only the first step.
Sign the below petition to urge Kenya’s governing bodies to outlaw all salt mining practices that pose hazards to human health and the environment.
Dear Director Wakhungu,
Thank you for taking the first step toward remedying the salt mining crisis in Kenya. Current salt mining practices are resulting in deforestation, a loss of fresh water resources, toxic chemical exposure, local exploitation, and loss of habitat. You must work with the Kenyan government and the mining companies to devise safer and more sustainable methods for salt extraction. If such methods are not possible given the circumstances, then salt mining ventures must cease entirely.
I am urging you to stand up for the local residents of Kilifi County and their land. Short-term financial gains will never outweigh the long-term consequences of this type of devastation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dey.sandip via WikiMedia Commons