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MICHUKI MEMORIAL CONSERVATION PARK

FROM A DUMPING SITE TO A GREEN SPACE

 

By Leakey Sonkoyo and Benedetta Wasonga

The Michuki Memorial Conservation Park formerly known as Mazingira Park is located along the Nairobi River from the Globe Roundabout to Museum Bridge and covers an area of approximately 10.4 ha. Named after the late Environment Minister Hon. John Michuki, the park was established in 2008 through concerted efforts geared towards creating a public recreation area at a site previously used as dumpsite and a criminal hideout which came about as a result of the rehabilitation and restoration of the Nairobi River.

 

The late Michuki who then vowed to reclaim the Nairobi River and make its water clean enough to be used by those who lived along the river embarked on a massive cleanup exercise that brought together 17 ministries among other stake stakeholders.  

Out of neglect, the area was an illegal dumpsite with an awful stench emanating from the polluted river. The place was characterized by high levels of insecurity ranging from muggings to murder. The site was occupied by hawkers and garages with the river sections choking with solid waste. 

 

As a result of the rehabilitation program, a total of 20,000 tons of solid waste was removed and a major cleanup of the entire city was also carried out. Among the activities carried out was the removal of accumulated solid waste from National Museum Bridge towards Globe Cinema Round-About to Race Course Round-About. It also involved clearing of illegal structures and leveling of the riparian zone and construction of a pathway along the river to mark a clear boundary of the riparian land.  A total of 6,357 indigenous trees were also planted. 

 

In 2012, the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga renamed the park in honour of the late John Michuki whose initiative resulted in the rehabilitation of the Nairobi River and the park. As part of activities that were undertaken to honour the former Cabinet minister, the Environment Ministry spent Sh10 million to clean up Nairobi River, Mathare and Ngong Rivers in 2012. Since then however, the park fell into neglect attracting illegal activities and dumping of waste. 

 

In 2020, The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Hon. Keriako Tobiko took up the challenge of rehabilitating the park following a Presidential Directive that handed over its management to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The Cabinet Secretary mobilized agencies within the ministry including the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and from the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage the National Museums of Kenya to undertake a massive rehabilitation, clean up and reconstruction of the park for eventual opening to the public for recreational use. 

 

The agencies assisted by other stakeholders including the Nairobi Metropolitan Service, the National Youth Service, the Kenya Seed Company among other public and private partners have over the last three months undertaken extensive works to rehabilitate the park. The works have included the building of gabions to stabilize the river banks, rehabilitation of the walkways to allow access to the entire park and construction of a modern tree nursery which will stock indigenous tree seedlings for sale to the people of Nairobi. The park will also now boasts of a 500 sitter amphitheater, a new guard house and events’ grounds. 

 

An ecosystem biodiversity assessment and inventory of all tree species has also been carried out in the park which has found out that there are over 88 assorted tree species in the park. More trees of various indigenous varieties including bamboo have been planted in a bid to make the area a truly green zone within the city of Nairobi. An hydrological study has also shown that at least two streams flow through the park to join the Nairobi River. 

 

The rehabilitation of the Michuki Memorial park is part of a national government initiative to create green spaces within urban areas as a way of helping them to mitigate against air pollution and provide relaxation and recreational sites for city residents. 

 

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