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EUROPEAN UNION BOOST TOWARDS PROTECTION AND INCREASE OF KENYAN FOREST COVER, WATER TOWERS AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION.

By Leakey Sonkoyo and Benedetta Wasonga

 

The forestry sector in Kenya received a major boost from the European Union Development Fund in a grant to rehabilitate degraded forest areas aimed at the protection of Kenya’s Water Towers and Climate Change Mitigation in a programme aimed at improving the quality and quantity of ecosystem services in Kenya.

 

The grant aimed specifically for the rehabilitation of Mt. Elgon and Cherangany in Western and North Rift parts of Kenya will go a long way in increasing Kenya’s Forest Cover with benefits to rural communities from forest, agriculture and agro-forestry land use systems, support poverty eradication through enhancing the productivity of ecosystem  services and enhance resilience to climate change. These forests constitute an important water catchment, straddling the watershed between the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana.

 

The grant through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources will be implemented through Kenya Forest Service which is the government State Agency with the sole mandate of development, conservation and management of Kenya’s forest resources. Other implementing state agencies include Kenya Water Towers Agency, National Climate Change Secretariat, Kenya Wildlife Service and the county governments of Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nandi, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Vihiga and West Pokot. The programme will run for a period of six years (2014-2020) at a total cost of EUR 31,000,000 corresponding to 3.6 billion Kenya Shillings. 

 

The overall objective of the Programme is to support Kenya to eradicate poverty through enhancing the productivity of ecosystem services of Kenya’s critical ecosystems and enhance resilience to climate change of her water sources while the purpose of the programme is to improve the quality and quantity of ecosystem services provided by Kenya’s water towers through increased forest cover, improved landscape and natural resource management, and waste management systems leading to increased benefits to rural communities from forest, agriculture and agro-forestry land use systems. 

 

During the launch of the programme at the Hill School in Eldoret, the European Union Ambassador H.E. Stefano A. Dejak said "The EU supports projects that ensure a high level of environmental protection. The Water Towers Programme will help preserve the environment for future generations while improving the lives of the communities through ecologically and economically sustainable land use systems and livelihood interventions. This offers a win-win solution for both the community and the environment. This programme is a key step to taking action in tackling Climate Change through sustainable ecosystem services."

 

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities Prof. Judi Wakhungu said "The programme will improve the quality and quantity of ecosystem services provided by the two water towers, through increased forest cover, improved landscape and natural resource management / waste management systems that will lead to increased benefits to communities from forest, agriculture and agro-forestry land use systems."

 

Other speakers included the Principal Secretary Natural Resources Dr. Margaret Mwakima,  Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Eng. Alex Tolgos, Director Kenya Forest Service Mr. Emilio Mugo, KEFRI Director Dr. Ben Chikamai among others. 

 

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