WWF-K partners with Kenya, Tanzania to stop degradation of Mara River


Principal Secretary, State Department for East African Community Kevit Desai (left) tours the United Republic of Tanzania stand during the 11th Mara Day celebrations in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County on September 15, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF-K) has reiterated its commitment to stay on the frontline to stop the degradation of the Mara River.

The cooperation will deal with the threats that jeopardise the river’s survival. 

Conservationists say challenges like the erratic flow of the Mara River and pollution could threaten the migration of birds and two million wildebeest that migrate through Tanzania and Kenya.

More than 1.5 million wildebeest migrate in an enormous loop every year in a spectacular move which is recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

WWF-K has been spearheading Kenya's conservation work to bring positive change to the communities.

The organisation has called for a concerted effort to address emerging threats the Mara River faces.  

"We shall continue to work with the governments of Kenya and Tanzania and other bilateral partners to preserve the Mara River and nature in general. Our goal is to ensure the river continues to serve and improve the livelihoods of more than 40million people in the two countries," said Mr Kevin Gichangi who coordinates projects at WWF-K in the greater Mara Landscape.

He was speaking during the 11th Mara Day celebrations in Kuresoi South on Thursday to raise awareness of the need to protect the critical water source which starts in Nakuru County.

This year’s theme was promoting environmental conservation, biodiversity and tourism through regional integration.

The celebrations brought together the top leadership of the two governments to conserve the Mara River.

Kevin Gichangi

Mr Kevin Gichangi senior sub-landscape coordinator Grater Mara at the World Wildlife Fund addresses journalists during the 11th Mara Day celebrations in Kuresoi South on September 15, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi/Nation Media Group

Added Mr Gichangi: "Mara River is important to the economy, livelihoods, and ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania because it is the only reliable source of service water for the Mara in the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania."

He revealed that the Mara River is the only river that flows throughout the year saying, "if the Mara River stops flowing the ecological impact will almost be irreversible."

He called for concerted efforts to look at all threats affecting the river from the catchment in the Eastern Mau block in Nakuru County which forms part of the 400,000 hectares of Mau Forest. 

The river flows through Narok and Bomet counties and into Tanzania and down to Musoma Bay where it drains into Lake Victoria.

"WWF-K is working at the entire basin holistically with many partners and the two governments and the community to ensure we are managing the threats that are facing the river," added Mr Gichangi.

The major threats to the river include degradation in the forest, over the obstruction in the lower areas where there is a lot of farming and pollution that affects the river in every stretch of the river basin.

Other threats include changing land use, reducing forests, expanding areas that were pristine to agriculture and the changing climate change in the ecosystem.

"Some of the tributaries when there is climate change stop flowing and the biggest threat would be the Mara River stopping to flow. However, as WWF-K we shall continue to create more awareness to protect the river," said Mr Gichangi.

He observed that WWF –K has put efforts over the years to reverse those threats and a lot of work upstream to restore some of the forests, and establishing stakeholders' forums like the Water Resource Users Association is a key priority.

"We have held many dialogues in different sections of the basin so that we don't over-obstruct and through such interactions we have managed to bring Kenya and Tanzania water users into a trans-boundary forum that can ensure there is dialogue from upstream to downstream," said Mr Gichangi.

The official said WWF-K will continue to collaborate with the communities including the disabled, youth and women as they all play a crucial role in the conservation of the Mara basin which sits on 14,000 square kilometres.

The annual Mara Day celebrations were held in Nakuru at a time when Africa will be hosting the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference popularly known as COP27.

This will be the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, to be held on African soil and will start on November 6-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. 

Dr William Ojwang' who is the Freshwater Thematic Lead for WWF-K and Manager of the Kenya Rift Lakes region said the community and development partners need to come together and ensure Mara continues flowing downstream for the good of the people and economy of the region. 


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