With the growing pace of industrial development, many indigenous tribes lose their power in making environmental decisions. For centuries, these tribes used the existing environmental resources to meet their basic life and health needs. Today, the western manufacturing industry deprives them of their historical environmental status, turning their limited environmental benefits into a source of huge profits. The case of the Kikuyu tribe illustrates the environmental complexities facing indigenous communities as a result of the western manufacturing expansion to Africa. The local flora and fauna hold a promise to bring millions of dollars in profits, leaving the local communities in the midst of an environmental crisis. The principles of environmental justice and sustainable development should dictate the direction of the future environmental initiatives. The $250,000 allocated to enhance sustainable development within the community should target several different areas, from growing trees and plants to building schools and engaging the local tribes in environmental and business decision making.
At the heart of this simulation is an emerging conflict between a large manufacturing firm and an indigenous community. The conflict is emerging, because both parties still have a chance to avoid it. However, the manufacturer must make wise, complex, and thorough decisions, so that it can meet its profit targets without discriminating against the social and environmental needs of the locals. Apparently, the Kikuyu tribe is the chief stakeholder, and its environmental needs should be met. It is the Kikuyu tribe that will suffer from the loss of its natural habitat due to the rapid expansion of the company’s manufacturing activities. Simultaneously, it is the Kikuyu tribe that has spent centuries in this land, and it has a unique status and the right to use the most essential environmental resources to satisfy its life needs. Therefore, when it comes to sustainable development, the Kikuyu tribe’s needs should serve as the primary basis for developing appropriate policies.
The $250,000 allocated to speed up sustainable development in the target community will be spent in the following ways. First, at least $100,000 will be used to restore and sustain the population of prunus Africana, the evergreen tree used by Kikuyu to treat men’s health problems. The local tribe has been using prunus Africana for centuries; not surprisingly, its population rapidly declines. Significant financial resources are needed to ensure that the local tribe has easy access to this cheap and quality resource to produce natural medications. Second, $50,000 will be used to build schools and engage the local population in educational activities to help them learn the principles of sustainable development and their role in it. Third, $50,000 will be spent on the creation of local initiative groups, which will be actively involved in manufacturing and environmental decision making. Members of the local tribe will receive fair compensation for the efforts they contribute in making reasonable strategic decisions that will meet the needs of both the manufacturer and the target community. Fourth, the remaining $50,000 will be paid to the local shamans for sharing the secrets of their medicine against prostatitis. Additionally, the company will supply its medicines for free, to help improve men’s health in the target community.
The proposed strategy is one of the most suitable ways to create and maintain a spirit of environmental justice in the target community. It is also one of the best ways to speed up sustainable development in the target area. According to Bezdek (1995:23), “environmental justice are the institutional policies, decisions, and cultural behaviors which support sustainable development and living conditions in which people can have confidence that their environment is safe, nurturing, and productive.” Here, sustainable development is also defined as the process of community development, which allows meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising future generations’ ability to satisfy its emerging needs (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987:27). The proposed strategy is based on the principles of environmental justice, because it provides the target community with valuable environmental and financial resources to meet its present and future needs. With new trees, cheap medicines, and active involvement in environmental and business decision making, the locals will have greater confidence that their environment is safe and their living conditions are nurturing and productive. However, trees alone cannot sustain the atmosphere of wellbeing and prosperity in the target community. Members of the Kikuyu tribe need to know how to use the limited environmental resources wisely. New schools and training facilities will greatly contribute to the community’s sustainable development efforts and initiatives, by empowering its members to make reasonable resource utilization decisions. At the same time, the provision of free medicines to improve community health will allow its members to save their natural resources, while having enough opportunities to satisfy their health needs.
The council should choose this proposal, at least because it provides additional financial resources to sustain health and wellbeing in the local community without damaging the local budget. Moreover, the proposed strategy is not intended to achieve short-term results. The benefits offered create a strong foundation for improving the life of the target community in the long run, thus saving the council from the need to address future environmental dilemmas. However, speaking about environmental justice, the $250,000 allocated for the needs of the target community are a trifle, compared with the millions of dollars the company plans to earn. Therefore, the council should encourage the manufacturer to increase its sustainable development budget and expand the policy coverage to include other communities living in the same area. The proposed strategy will not be effective, if it covers only one small community. Other communities should have access to the sustainable development resources that are available to the Kikuyu tribe, in order to meet their sustainable development and environmental justice needs.
In conclusion, the proposed strategy will involve a number of sustainable development activities, from restoring the population of prunus Africana to building schools and engaging the locals in business decision making. The strategy will make it easier for the manufacturer to meet the goals of sustainable development and environmental justice, as well as satisfy the life and health needs of the major stakeholder, the Kikuyu tribe. Simultaneously, the council should encourage the manufacturer to expand its policy budget and coverage, to ensure that other stakeholders and local tribes have access to the benefits offered by the new policy in a long-term perspective.
- Bezdek, Roger. 1995. Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions.
Washington, DC: Island Press.
- World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.