Basics of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)


Many projects in the built environment stall or are blatantly delayed for lack of a proper knowledge on the basics of an Environmental impact Assessment. It could also be due to ignoring the provisions of Environmental Law as it applies to a particular development.

The building process is a complex one and it is prudent for one to have a grasp on the basics of an EIA

What is an EIA?

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, and identifying and selecting options for mitigating the effects of proposals for development projects prior to finalizing project designs and committments.”

It is thus obvious that the assessment is an exercise that begins at the Project Definition stage. Some ignore it and end up getting stranded midstream during project implementation when the authorities step on the scene.

Framework for EIA

In Kenya, The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is established under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) No. 8 of 1999, as the principal instrument of government in the implementation of all policies relating to the environment.

The Authority became operational on 1st July 2002

The European Union provides separate guidelines for environmental assessment that is undertaken for individual projects or for plans, programs, and policie(“Strategic Environmental Assessment”)

There are also International Standards such as the ‘ISO 14000″ or the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention)

Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessments:

  1. To ensure that environmental considerations are explicitly addressed and incorporated into the development decision-making process
  2. to anticipate and avoid, minimize, or offset the adverse significant biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals
  3. To protect the productivity and capacity of natural systems and the ecological processes that maintain their functions
  4. to promote development that is sustainable and optimizes resource use and management opportunities

Mitigation Plan:

The EIA should identify feasible and cost-effective measures that may reduce potentially significant adverse environmental impacts to acceptable levels. The plan includes compensatory measures if mitigation measures are not , cost-effective, or sufficient.


1. European Union, “Environmental assessment, “

2.International Organization for Standardisation, “ISO 14000 Essentials

3. NEMA, Website

4.United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, “Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context.”

Kindest Regards,

David Nahinga || @UjenziBora


~ by ujenzibora on October 15, 2010.

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