Gov’t rolls out ambitious plan to rehabilitate rivers, forests


Gov't rolls out ambitious plan to rehabilitate rivers, forests
An area in Murang'a prone to land slides. Photo/DENNIS KABIRU

The Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources will partner with Murang’a county government to rehabilitate rivers and forests in the region.

According to the Environment Secretary Alice Kaudia, the program will include cleaning up rivers and planting indigenous trees on river banks in a bid to conserve the wetlands.

Speaking during a visit to Murang’a county headquarters on Tuesday, Kaudia said the county has suffered massive environmental degradation that has resulted in many calamities including landslides.

She noted that Murang’a is one of the counties that supply water to the city of Nairobi and that further degradation of local rivers would have far reaching effects.

An area in Murang'a prone to land slides. Photo/DENNIS KABIRU
An area in Murang’a prone to land slides. Photo/DENNIS KABIRU

Kaudia added that through the partnership, they would support the county government in restoring degraded water catchment areas and establish a sustainable environment conservation program.

She intimated that the program would also involve an aggressive sensitisation campaign of community members on matters concerning conservation of the environment.

The program is also expected to help stop encroachment of river banks and catchment areas and will incorporate women and youths, giving them a chance to earn a living.

The county government, she said, will measure the allowable space along river banks and work with locals to create physical boundaries.

An area in Murang'a prone to land slides. Photo/DENNIS KABIRU
An area in Murang’a prone to land slides. Photo/DENNIS KABIRU

“Encroachment of river banks is a major challenge in the conservation of rivers and will have to be strictly controlled to ensure human activities do not interfere with the water levels,” Kaudia noted.

She said the program will be piloted in Mathioya and Murari rivers and later expanded to other major rivers.

Murari river, which passes through Murang’a Town, had almost dried up due to encroachment, with some residents altering its course to expand their plots of land while others have constructed buildings on its banks.

The programme will also include reclaiming quarries as several instances of local quarries collapsing and killing people have been reported.

“In 2009, we did a study of quarries in Murang’a County that will guide us in taking remedial action and educating stakeholders on safe quarrying activities,” added Kaudia.

The county executive in charge of Environment, Githirwa Macharia, on his part said the county government wrote to the Ministry asking for a partnership in rehabilitating rivers.

Githirwa noted that local rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean have become polluted and acquired a brown coloring, endangering the lives of people who live downstream.

“We will conduct a survey to determine the extent of pollution and later engage women and youths in cleaning up rivers and planting bamboos and other indigenous trees on their banks,” said Githirwa.

By Dennis Kabiru

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