GBM Blog

Save Our Wetlands

February 7, 2014 - 12:00PM
Published by GBM- Kenya

2014 is the UN International Year of Family Farming – Wetlands & Agriculture as the World Wetlands Day theme for 2014. The theme given that Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth, is placing a focus on the need for the wetland and agricultural sectors to work together for the best shared outcomes.

Wetlands have often been seen as a barrier to agriculture, and they continue to be drained and reclaimed to make farming land available. But the essential role of wetlands in support of agriculture is becoming clearer and clearer, and there are successful agricultural practices which support healthy wetlands.

“I found myself not just a woman wanting to plant trees to provide food and firewood. I found myself a woman fighting for justice, a woman fighting for equity. I started planting trees and found myself in the forefront of fighting for the restoration of democracy in my country.” —Wangari Maathai

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) in the past have organized consultative meetings to seek support from the local stakeholders in addressing the environmental challenges that face Lake Naivasha which is an important wetland. Communities leaving within Naivasha have been mobilized to conserve, protect and manage the Lake for their future.  

The GBM with the support from the local communities has concentrated on conservation as a priority on the Lake Naivasha catchment and its degraded riparian reserve.  However, unsustainable land use activities are still affecting the Lake water levels. Possible solutions into maintaining this wetland are still being worked on and as well as resource mobilization. GBM is looking for partners to continue supporting the already agreed activities for sustainable management of the lake.

As most of the lakes in Kenya are rapidly disappearing, GBM has been building capacity to communities and educating them on the need to conserve all the wetlands in this country.  A lot of advocacy work around the wetlands has increasingly created a positive impact within the community members.

The goal of GBM’s newest advocacy programs is to work on a Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar) site in Lake Naivasha. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has been in force in Kenya since 1990, and an environment-friendly Constitution was promulgated in 2010. The Environment Management and Coordination Act and its by-laws contain a number of innovative wetland provisions.  

Rift Valley Basin Wetlands: A 60-kilometre wide internal drainage basin, the Rift Valley hosts some of Kenya's most-iconic lakes, such as Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Lake Elementaita, Lake Baringo and Lake Turkana. Urbanisation, increasing demand for resources and other  pressures have led to pollution, soil erosion and reduced quantity and quality of water.

Now is the time for everyone to take stock of the situation, we cannot sit back and ignore the statistics, no matter how grave they might be. One big question all communities must ask themselves is how much water remains for domestic purposes. Can Naivasha continue with its business as usual attitude towards a resource that is now facing imminent extinction. The entire area is facing the consequences of years of a free-for all unsustainable exploitation of one of the country’s most precious resources - fresh water.