Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle once said “What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care.”
Author – Alais Kisota
It simply means people pay most attention to what is theirs and care less for what is common.
This ancient teacher could have foreseen the day when his words would provide warning of common’s problems like now in the sand and environmental issues in Kajiado.
Many of our shared natural resources as well as large parts of our life-giving and livelihood support environment including the rivers sand, is held in common and is easily fitting into the ‘commons’ as described by Aristotle and Garrett Hardin.
However, successful and sustainable management of these commons is one of the greatest imperatives of our time. Incidentally, well meaning actions towards sustainable use always a direct affront to the existential short-term, individual or certain groups’ rational self-interest that tends to trump long-term, mutual interests for all living and future generations.
In most cases, some private individuals or/and groups emerge to stake claims of morelse exclussive rights or assume a patronised ownership of sorts to the commons – call it cartels. Does this describes the metaphor of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ by Hardin?
Any mutual Interest management intervention put forward on this sand based ‘commons’ business, will automatically challenges or appear an affront to the existential ‘cartel’ interests, and aggression or resistance is inevitable.
Nevertheless, to avoid Hardin’s ‘tragedy’ strict adherence to the existing government regulation in the use of these ‘common’ resources whether as government held, as private individual or organized group held, community managed or as a mixture of these is also inevitable.
Some ‘common’ resources can be privatized but certainly the rivers sand cannot because such is simply not ownable.
Morever, rights to use of resources like the rivers sand can be allocated and regulated by the local government. In this case, the communities involved in the business of these resources, whether as private individual or organized group, community or mixture, will trade or do business in line with government regulations for allocating harvesting/user rights.
This is a county government mandate and the government strategy to address the issues is a holistic consideration of all matters to create fair local economies, care for the environment and sustainable livelihoods for the people, acting locally and responsibly.
The government is proposing a community management approach that’s consultative and collective in taking consideration of interests of all and sundry including environment preservation. The harvesting/user rights and business involved must be conducted in line with existing regulations for sustainable use and management of sand resources in the region. The success of this collective management solutions can be scaled up and applied across the county.
The proposed solution has a chance to work under conditions of good communication, trust and reciprocity among communities and other stakeholders involved in sand business. The discommunication and incitements by politicians, will harm communities’ trust and diminishes their reciprocity, endeavouring to defeat the proposed solutions.
However, the government is firm in ensuring adherence to the existing regulations and the dialogue is carried out in a conducive environment devoid of aggressions and incitements. Dialogue is expected to yield community management solution with support from government regulation that can scale up to create sustainable resource use, meaningful benefits sharing, environmental preservation and protection.
For the local politicians, stop playing the tragedy of the ‘commons’. Let’s heed the Governor’s call and join the local communities’ dialogue for a collective action.
The Author is the County CECM for Public Participation and e-Government.