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SEA profile

Updated to: 27 January 2015

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SEA background

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Country contact on SEA

Contact details for the country contact on SEA.

National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)
P.O.BOX 67839-00200 Nairobi Popo Road off Mombasa Road
Tel: (+254)-020-605522/6/7
Fax: (+254)-020-608997 
Mobile: 0724 - 253 398/0728-585 829/0735-013 046/0735-010 237
Wireless: 020-2101370, Hotline: 606041


Country's planning system

Brief description of planning practice, specifically whether it take place more often at centralised or decentralised level, what kind of national level planning and sectoral planning takes place, etc.

Planning in Kenya falls under the Ministry of State for Planning and National Development. This ministry provides leadership and coordination for preparation of policies, programmes and plans at national, provincial and district levels. There are 4 directorates under this ministry: Rural planning, Macro planning (national), Sectoral planning and a monitoring and evaluation directorate. Local governments are responsible for developing local plans and programs.

History of SEA

Brief description of the history of SEA in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.

The Kenyan SEA framework was legislated in 2000, with the enactment of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA). The Kenyan SEA framework is said to have been guided by principles of early application, accountability and open participation. The requirements for SEA are laid out in the EIA and Audit Regulations 2003, and concern the content of the assessment more so than the procedure. The EIA guidelines provide more detailed instructions on the SEA steps to follow, but it should be borne in mind that this is not a legally binding document. Practice has been slow to follow, as per the count of April 2006 about four SEAs had been undertaken.  This number is now on the rise.

Legal framework for SEA

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Framework/Enabling law

Name of first enabling legislation that sets the framework for SEA.

The Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA).

Approving authority of enabling law

The authority that approved the enabling law for SEA.


Year of introduction of first national detailed SEA regulation

Year when when the first national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) for SEA through which EIA was operationalized was issued.

The Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit Regulations (2002) set supplementing requirements for the SEA procedure, responsibilities and the contents of the SEA report.


Approving authority of first detailed SEA regulation

The authority that approved the first detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements)

The Minister of Environment.

Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation

Revisions of the SEA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional relevant SEA-related legislation that has been published since the first legislation is listed.

The Environmental (Impact Assessment and Audit) Regulations have been revised in 2003. They further have been amended in 2007 and in 2009.

Sector specific procedures/regulations

Any existing sectoral procedure/regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.

No information


Any government issued guidelines on SEA (general or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describes the legal status of the guidelines.

The Environment Impact Assessment guidelines and administrative procedures (2003) outline the SEA process and content requirements of the SEA report. 

In 2011 NEMA has issued National Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment in Kenya.

Objective SEA

The objective of SEA as stated in the above described legal basis.

The EIA guidelines 2003 state that the objective of Strategic Environmental Assessment is to systematically integrate environmental considerations into policy, planning and decision-making processes. Achievement of sustainability principles and benchmarks are emphasised.

Scope of SEA application

Describes for which planning processes (at policy, programme and plan level) SEA is required.

The EIA regulation prescribes that all public policies, plans and programs be subjected to SEA.

Exemptions from SEA application

Are any specific types of plans explicitly excluded from SEA application?

Not specified.

SEA approach

Describes the current overall SEA approach. Specifically: Has the country's SEA procedure been modeled on the existing EIA approach? Or has a separate SEA approach been developed?

The SEA approach is largely based on the Kenyan EIA approach.

SEA tiering with EIA

Are there any provisions for tiering of EIA and SEA?

The framework requires that linkages between proposed policies, programs and plans and other ongoing activities be assessed and SEA is stated to provide baseline data usable at project initiation. However, the framework neither makes it a requirement nor defines a specific tiering approach between SEA and EIA.

Institutional setting for SEA

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Central SEA authority

Is there a central authority in charge of the SEA system as a whole, responsible for issuing guidelines etc? If so, is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g. ministry)?

NEMA is the central authority on SEA, in consultation with the lead agencies for planning. 

Mandate for exemption of SEA obligation

Is there a legal mandate for a competent authority to make exemptions of SEA obligation? If yes, under which conditions (e.g. national security, disasters or no conditions/when deemed necessary)?

Not specified.

(De)centralisation of SEA mandates

Are SEA mandates (de)centralised? Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for SEA processes is delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decentralization refers to the reassignment of decision-making authority on SEA to government units on a sectoral basis.

The lead agency (presumably for the plan)  is responsible for conducting the SEA. NEMA, at national level, has to be consulted.

Initiator of the SEA

Who initiates the SEA? Should the plan owner initiate and undertake the SEA or is an environmental authority responsible for undertaking the SEA. If an authority is responsible, which authority and at which level?

The guideline states that the plan owner initiates and undertakes the SEA.

SEA procedure

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Establishing context

Screening requirement and authority

Is a formal screening decision required? And if so, which authority is responsible for this decision? Is the decision published?

Strictly speaking, screening is not a requirement for SEA, since the document advising it  (EIA guidelines and administrative procedures, 2003) is not legally binding.

Screening process

Describes the screening process for SEA (if any), who is involved and who is responsible. What kind documentation on the SEA needs to be submitted for screening?

There are no screening prescriptions in the regulation. The EIA guidelines suggest that SEA screening follow the EIA screening process, meaning that an initial assessment of the environmental consequences be prepared. On the basis of this report, it can then be decided if a full SEA is required.

Timeline Screening

Maximum number of (working) days between submission of the screening request and the screening decision.

Not specified

Identification of stakeholders

Are stakeholders identified early on in the SEA? Who is responsible for identifying the stakeholders? Is a communication plan developed (addressing public and government engagement, disclosure, etc?).

There are no prescribed approaches for identifying stakeholders at the screening stage. The guidelines do suggest that plan objectives are determined here, in consultation with the public.

Setting SEA objectives

Is there an early discussion on the objectives for the SEA (i.e. How it will support planning, how it will be integrated into the planning process)? Which stakeholders are involved? Are the outcomes of this discussion documented?

The guideline addresses plan objectives, and states that these should be set in consultation with the government authority under which the policy, program or plans falls as well as with the public. Additionally, the EIA guidelines suggest that the objectives of the plan should be reviewed against the relevant national, regional, or local environmental action plans. SEA objectives are not separately mentioned.

Implementing the SEA

Scoping process

Is there a distinct scoping process? Who is responsible? Who is involved? What methods (if any) are prescribed (overlays, matrices, etc)?

There are no scoping requirements in the regulation. The EIA guidelines, however,  suggest that scoping take place, following logically from the initial assessment during the screening stage.  The lead agency is responsible for this process. It should prepare a scoping document, consult on this document, and submit the final version to NEMA.

Participation in scoping

If here is distinct scoping, is participation part of this process? Who is involved and how?

The EIA guidelines advise that the public should be widely consulted during scoping for an SEA. The lead agency is advised to undertake this consultation.

Outcome of scoping

What are the expected outcomes of the scoping? e.g. decision criteria and suitable indicators of desired outcomes identified? If a ToR/scoping document is produced, what are the content requirements if any? Is the ToR reviewed? Is the outcome widely available?

The scoping report is supposed to:

  • identify key environmental issues;
  • identify the scale/ level of SEA based on the nature of proposal;
  • define spatial and temporal boundaries;
  • identify agencies to be consulted including the various decision-making authorities;
  • contain a Terms of Reference for the SEA.
Baseline data

Are there any specific requirements for data collection (for example, on protected areas)?

The EIA guidelines prescribe that SEA baseline data on the physical environment, biological conditions, social economic conditions and health should be collected.


Are there any requirements for the alternatives to be considered in the SEA? How should alternatives be selected, ranked, compared?

Both the EIA regulation and EIA guidelines prescribe that alternatives should be addressed in an SEA.

Assessment/mitigation of effects

What are the specific requirements for assessment and mitigation of impacts as part of SEA? Any specific methods prescribed?

The EIA guidelines suggest that impacts should be assessed by determining the magnitude and significance of the potential impacts both qualitatively and quantitatively. It is also suggested that the sensitivity of the affected environment and the carrying capacity of the area should be considered.

Institutional analysis

Is the institutional setting for implementation of the plan analysed? Is there explicit attention for the identification of opportunities to strengthen environmental constituencies?

There are no prescribed provisions for analysing the institutional setting for implementing SEA.

Content of SEA report

If documentation is required, what should be contained in the SEA report?

The prescriptions for the content of the SEA differ between the regulations and the guideline.

The EIA regulation (43 (1)) prescribes the content of the SEA report as follows:
(a) the title of the report;
(b) a summary of the potential significant impacts of a proposed policy,
programme or plan;
(c) potential opportunities to promote or enhance environmental
(d) recommendations for mitigating measures; and
(e) alternative policy, programme or plan options to ensure compliance with the Act.

In addition, the regulation gives content prescriptions for the proposed policy, plan or programme document. The plan documents have to include the SEA as outlined above, as well as additional environmental assessment aspects, including:
(a) the purpose and rational of the policy, programme or plan taking into consideration socio-economic, environmental and cultural issues;
(b) alternatives and strategies of the policy, programme or plans;
(c) areas and sectors affected by the policy, programme, plan, or proposed activities;
(d) an environmental analysis covering:

(i) baseline information focusing on areas potentially affected:
(ii) relevant legislative framework and related policy documents:
(iii) summary of views of key stakeholders consulted:
(iv) predicted impacts of the policy, programme or plan;
(v) alternative policy options and comparison against environmental indicators;
(vii) ongoing projects and how they fit in the proposed policy, programme or plan;

(e) recommendations outlining -

(i) suggested policy changes;
(ii) proposed mitigation measures;
(iii) strategic environment assessment; and

(f) relevant technical appendices such as stakeholders meetings referred to in the assessment.

Finally, the EIA guidelines advises an SEA report that combines these elements, and adds an environmental management plan, as well as an explanation of how the SEA was undertaken. 

SEA review

Describes the requirements for SEA review. Specifically: Who reviews the SEA? An independent body? Environmental Authority? Is the review approach similar to EIA review in the country?

The regulation does not set out how review should take place. The guideline suggests that SEAs are reviewed by NEMA. NEMA will distribute the SEA to relevant agencies and other stakeholder, and collect their comments. NEMA will also set up a special review committee for this purpose.

Participation in review

Are there any arrangements for participation in review? Who is involved? How is their involvement arranged?

According to the guideline relevant stakeholders and agencies can be asked by NEMA to comment on the SEA.

Timeline review

What is the timeline given for the review of the SEA, in (working) days?

There is no timeline provided in the regulation, the guideline states that  within three months of receiving the SEA report NEMA shall give her decision on the SEA. It is possible to extend this timeline, if mutually agreed with the party involved.

Informing and influencing decision-making

SEA and planning decision-making

What is the formal role of SEA in decision-making on the plan? Is SEA approval needed before a planning decision can be made?

There are no clear provisions for integrating SEA results into the planning and decision making process. The EIA regulation does instruct that SEA is used to determine which policies, plans and programmes are the most environmental friendly and cost effective when implemented individually or in combination with others.
It is not clear if an SEA approval is required before a plan is adopted.

Onyango, V and M Schmidt 2007. Towards a strategic environment assessment framework in Kenya: Highlighting areas for further scrutiny. Journal of Management of Environmental Quality, Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Page: 309 – 328

Recommendations for decision-making

How are the results of the SEA and participation translated into recommendations for decision-making on the plan?

Recommendations are presented as part of the final SEA report and plan and include: Recommendations for policy changes, identification of mitigation measures.


Monitoring requirement

Is there a requirement for implementation of decisions to be monitored? What is the role of SEA outcomes in this monitoring? What provisions exits for action to be undertaken if environmental problems occur?

There are no specifically binding provisions requiring monitoring of implementation of the proposed policy, program or plan. The EIA guidelines mention that an Environmental Management Plan should be included in the SEA report as part of the recommendations to decision makers.

Evaluation requirement

Is there a formal requirement to evaluate the SEA? Similarly, to evaluate plan implementation before the next round of plan development? Are the two connected in this SEA system?

There are no formal requirements for this (to confirm with NEMA).

SEA practice

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Annual no. of SEAs

Gives an estimation for the number of SEAs that are produced annually in this country.

To check with NEMA

Central SEA database

Is there a central database or library where information on SEAs is kept (i.e. where all SEAs are registered and/or copies are archived). If so, what is kept there and is this information publicly accessible?

NEMA maintains a register of all SEA reports.

Practice reviews

Any SEA practice review studies that have been done (by governmental agencies or others) are listed here. Where relevant, links to studies are included, and the main conclusions of the studies are summarised.

  • Onyango V and S Namango, 2005. The Need for SEA in Kenya Implementing Strategic Environmental Assessment. Edited by Michael Schmidt, Elsa João and Eike Albrecht. Springer-Verlag.  
  • Onyango, V and M Schmidt 2007. Towards a strategic environment assessment framework in Kenya: Highlighting areas for further scrutiny. Journal of Management of Environmental Quality, Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Page: 309 – 328.

Case studies

SEA case studies on which information is available are listed here, including a link to case documentation, if available.

No information available.

Professional bodies

Professional bodies relevant to SEA practice, such as SEA Associations, Planning Associations, etc are listed here.

East African Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE): Regional network of governmental agencies which have in their mandate environmental management, compliance and enforcement responsibilities in the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Capacity development

Sets out any ongoing training programmes (including professional and academic training) and major training events held in the past (with focus on recent events).

Professional Development (PD) Fellowship Program for East and Southern Africa.  CLEAA works with various environmental assessment leaders nationally, regionally and globally, in partnership with IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), with financial support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)  to promote and enhance Africa’s capacity in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), for better environmental governance and sustainable development.

Non-governmental SEA guidance

Lists any SEA manuals and good practice publications (including checklists, case studies) that have been published by parties other than government.

To confirm with NEMA which ones are currently used.

SEA links

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Links to laws/regulation

Links to relevant SEA laws or regulations.

Other relevant links on SEA

Other relevant links on SEA in the country are given here.