Protecting Water Towers for Prosperity

By Michael Muratha
Kenya`s water towers remain vital national assets as they provide numerous services including; climate regulation, recharge of groundwater; river flow regulation; flood mitigation; control of soil erosion; water purification; carbon storage among others. These services support key economic sectors, including: energy, tourism, agriculture as well as water supply to urban centers and industries. In line with these the Government of Kenya through a number of partner institutions in collaboration with the European Union are working tirelessly to conserve these water towers.
The conservation work is begin carried out through the water tower protection and climate change mitigation (waTER) programme under four key result areas. The Programme is being coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, with Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and the Climate Change Directorate as well as the eleven counties including Siaya, Kisumu, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Transnzoia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, West Pokot as the implementing agencies.
 KFS, KWS, KWTA, Climate Change Directorate are implementing result area two with the main objective of improving the quality and quantity of ecosystem services of two Kenya`s water towers namely Mt. Elgon and Cherengany. More importantly the programme aims to eradicate poverty by creating alternative sources of livelihood to the forest adjacent communities.

The programme has now been running for one year and has so far made commendable progress. These include titling of forest blocks in the project areas; conducting capacity building to communities on bamboo propagation and Climate Change; establishing Farmer Field Schools in the Project areas; rehabilitating degraded hotspots in the project areas. Other ongoing activities include; the development of an environment monitoring system, development of concepts for forest parks, enhancing capacity at the county level among others. 
Project Manager David Chege is optimistic that the programme is progressing on well. He furthers adds that the programme will continue to enhance land productivity for socio economic development in the two water towers. More importantly the programme is working to improve livelihood of 5000 households through efficient ecosystem management and enhanced stakeholder participation.  

KFS Board Member Dr. Gelas  Muse(centre), Project Manager David Chege among other KFS officials when  they toured one of the rehabilitation sites in Elgeyo Marakwet 

KFS Board Member Dr. Gelas Muse in  a group photo with KFS officials at Cherangani Forest Station, which is one  of the station being supported by the water towers project


Project Manager David Chege  addressing Bororiet Farmer Field School (FFS). The project is supporting  communities through FFS groups to enlighten them on conservation


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