Bio-prospecting of Medicinal Bio-resources from the Kenyan Biodiversity: Reflections on Governance as the Missing Link - A Review Article

Micheni Ndii Kiraithe, Muthee John K., Mathiu Peter M., Muthama Nzioka J.


Medicinal biodiversity has since times immemorial served as one of the richest sources of bio-prospecting leading to the discovery of novel drugs for mankind globally. However, in Kenya, despite the Country being known to be a mega biodiversity hotspot, bio-prospecting has not been very successful mainly due to lack of effective institutional and legal frameworks. This article reviews the policy and legislation instruments governing medicinal biodiversity in Kenya in order to identify their weaknesses and strengths and come up with recommendations for effective economic exploitation of the Country’s’ mega diverse resource. The methodology employed was a qualitative content analysis of relevant biodiversity legislations in Kenya. Results reveal that there has been governance gaps as far as bio-prospecting activities in Kenya are concerned which has rendered the Country’s mega biodiversity vulnerable to bio-piracy at the expense of the poor  local communities who are the traditional knowledge owners. There is need to review the current pieces of legislation on medicinal biodiversity and work towards developing a strong National bio-prospecting policy together with an implementation plan. These are important to inform the overall national development agenda, in tandem with Vision 2030. Some of the policies were found out dated and rather obsolete and not serving the current interests and ambitions of the Country. There is therefore a need to revisit the policy and legislative instruments because they will continue frustrating bio-prospecting activities.  Moreover, we recommend the creation of a National Institute to coordinate and harmonize the legislations and National policies on medicinal biodiversity to seal loopholes, avoid conflicts and contradictions being experienced in the current legislative and policy frameworks.

Keywords: Bio-prospecting; Bio-piracy; Governance; Kenya; Medicinal biodiversity

DOI: 10.7176/JHMN/60-05

Publication date:March 31st 2019

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ISSN 2422-8419

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