Saturday, November 18, 2017

PS State Department for Natural Resources Dr. Margaret Mwakima, speaks to Wananchi at Sabor Forest Station in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County during the tree planting exercise dubbed “Operation Okoa Kaptagat Forest”. With PS Mwakima are, PS Dr Chris Kiptoo (left) and PS Dr Dinah Mwinzi.

The Government has in the 2017/2018 Financial Year allocated over 100 million shillings towards the implementation of the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (WaTER) Programme.

Speaking at Sabor Forest Station in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County during the Tree Plantation Ceremony, Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu said the kitty will be used to fast-track the realization of the WaTER project, whose implementation aims to curb poverty, enhance resilience and improve the quality and quantity of ecosystem services.

In a speech read on her behalf by State Department of Natural Resources Principal Secretary Dr. Margaret Mwakima, Prof. Wakhungu said the activities arising from the programme are projected to enhance ecosystem management, rehabilitation and restoration of the landscapes through tree growing.

“The objective of the programme, which runs up to 2020, is to eradicate poverty through enhancing the productivity of Kenya’s critical ecosystems and enhance resilience to climate change and to improve the quality and quantity of ecosystem services,” underscored the Cabinet Secretary.

She said the programme will cover the Cherangany and the Mt. Elgon Water Towers which traverse eleven counties in the region, including Elgeyo Marakwet County.

The Cabinet Secretary further said the project will also support harmonized planning processes within Counties and development of County landscape management opportunities as well as promotion of green growth practices.

During the event, the Ministry in partnership with other government agencies planted over 7,000 trees.

Speaking at the same event, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced that the National government is working closely with the private sector to increase forest coverage by supporting plantation of more trees across the country.

Mr. Rotich said that despite the immense importance of forests, the resource continues to experience massive pressure caused by demand for expansion of agricultural land, grazing grounds, human settlements, illegal logging, and infrastructural development.

He said projected impacts of unmitigated climate change have negatively affected human livelihoods, health, water resources, agricultural production and food security.

Mr. Rotich pointed out that immense tree growing will provide opportunities for mitigation against the effects of climate change.

He applauded the role played by Community Forest Associations, saying the initiative to form such groups has enormously supported forest conservation and management efforts as well enabling the associations to derive incomes from activities such as seedlings production and commercial tree growing on their farms.

Mr. Rotich called on all Kenyans to intensify tree growing in order to mitigate against the adverse effects of climate change, increased production of forestry goods and services and the beautification of our landscapes.

Kaptagat forest is valuable and a critical water catchment area, biodiversity and carbon reservoir alongside habitat for wildlife.

It is also an important source of livelihood for community members who derive from it employment, fuel wood, honey, building materials, medicinal herbs among other important products and services.

The rivers that originate from the forests in the region are key sources of water for Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins.

Accompanying them were senior government officials including State Department of Technical and Vocational Training PS Dr. Dinah Mwinzi, Water PS Prof. Fred Sigor and his Trade and Industrialization Counterpart Dr. Chris Kiptoo.

PS Dr Margaret Mwakima and PS Dr Dinah Mwinzi both (center), with locals for a traditional jig at Kaptagat

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