Kenya Water Towers Agency held a forum for Meru County Water Towers Ecosystem Stakeholders to bring together diverse players and users who have a stake in protection, conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable management of watersheds to share achievements, experiences and challenges, develop and also share strategies to reduce further degradation and restore degraded areas to enhance yield of goods & services, share experiences of climate change impacts adoption initiatives, coping mechanisms and mitigation strategies and share other conservation based enterprises for socio-economic benefits.
The chief guest Mary the county executive chair noted that there are serious degradation issues experienced in the world and Kenya is not left out and as a result the organizers have made positive move to come and offer helping hand in reversing the dominating challenges associated with environmental degradation especially the water towers.
In addition she emphasized that degradation in most areas has been caused much by human activity and this has raised alarm on need to change normal and paranormal activities. She also said that there is need for putting much effort in restoring the degraded natural resources and repossessing grabbed catchment lands. She noted that county government has developed policies to help in protecting the environment from challenges like encroachment and has also put in place an initiative called Greening and Cleaning the county (Eat adopt Tree), to ensure sustainability of the ecosystem. The County is continuing with process of Rehabilitation of catchment – status- survey pending gazzetment.
KWTA’s Stanslaus Gachara who is in charge of water tower’s water shed and climate change urged the County to consider using Bamboo for rehabilitating Nyambene water towers based on high retention level of ground water. He also stressed on the need for putting in place incentives schemes like PES seedlings planted in Kenya.
Mr.Jediel Maingi of forestry noted that in the 90s (1995), he realized a trend with rural farmers overharvesting trees without a matching level of replacement with implication being a continuous tree deficit enhancing already poor state of rural tree cover and with over 95% relying on wood for their heating energy tree planting thus becomes imperative for rural areas. In an intervention to this three tree planting and tree nursery programs were designed. These were tree nursery program for schools, individual-farmer tree nursery program, official groups tree nursery programs and tree nursery program for schools (later renamed Green Schools Program) has impacted much.
The objectives of green schools program were to build capacity of school youths about roles of trees in the definition of environment, benefits that accrue from a well conserved environment and issues relevant to climate change, to train school youths on the science and technology behind establishment of small scale tree nurseries, to involve school youths in actual tree planting both within and without schools, to bring seedlings near to farmers as possible through schools and to build practical synergies with relevant stakes for improved impacts as regards environmental conservation. The program is tailor-made to enable school youths learn how to reasonably conserve their environment now and also in the future.
Joseph Mwenda of Water Resource Management Authority shared that the main idea for bringing all the stakeholders together to share on issues concerning environment is important while checking on quality and quantity of water and the allied resources. He further noted the challenges experienced like encroachment on catchment lands/riparian reserves and over abstraction.
The stakeholders came up with suggestions that the agency to provide alternative livelihoods measure to the community through economic buffers i.e. bee keeping, in a joint venture with relevant stakeholder rehabilitate degraded catchment areas i.e. River Mariara.
The Agency was to develop framework for working with groups like Njuri Nchenke to avert degradation issues and incorporate indigenous knowledge in planning. The Agency to partner with the country to help reverse the degradation challenge in Tigania. Develop Platform for engaging with all stakeholders. They also stressed on the need for holding forum for Key players (KFS, KWTA and KWS), county government and community at large for engaging and developing strategies to manage natural resources, empower WRUAs to implement the action plans, sensitization of inhabitants along the riparian reserves to embrace sustainability and need for conducting EIA for projects aligned with water Need for enforcing policies and regulations concerning water use identification and protection of wetlands and Construction of dams on the upstream to increase the capacity and avoid abstraction.
Also present were the Kenya Meteorological Services County director, Water Resource User Association (WRUA) representative Joseph Kibaki a community forest association (CFA) representative Zipporah Matumbi Chairlady County CFAs, Njuri ncheeke elder Benjamin Mugambi Mutunga and Meru County Commissioner.
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