SEA profile

Updated to: 27 January 2015

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Contact & history

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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

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

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

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

Approving authority of enabling law


Year of introduction of first national detailed SEA regulation

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 Minister of Environment.

Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation

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

No information


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 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

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

Exemptions from SEA application

Not specified.

SEA approach

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

SEA tiering with EIA

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

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

Mandate for exemption of SEA obligation

Not specified.

(De)centralisation of SEA mandates

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

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

SEA procedure

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Establishing context

Screening requirement and authority

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

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

Not specified

Identification of stakeholders

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Assessment/mitigation of effects

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

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

Content of 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

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

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

Timeline review

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

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

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


Monitoring requirement

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

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

SEA practice

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Annual no. of SEAs

To check with NEMA

Central SEA database

NEMA maintains a register of all SEA reports.

Practice reviews

  • 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

No information available.

Professional bodies

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

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

To confirm with NEMA which ones are currently used.

SEA links

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Links to laws/regulation

Other relevant links on SEA