Saturday, April 20, 2019

Ewaso Ngiro River at Rumuruti, Laikipia County. It forms part of Ewaso Narok swamp that is threatened by human activities

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is considering Gazetting Ewaso Narok swamp in Rumuruti, Laikipia County as a protected area following threats of massive degradation CS Keriako Tobiko has said.

The swamp which is the largest wetland in Laikipia County is located in Rumuruti Division and covers about 12 square kilometers with a linear stretch of about 12 kilometres.

Human encroachment through farming has threatened the drying up of river Ewaso Narok that is the lifeline of thousands of residents in Laikipia, Isiolo and Wajir Counties downstream.

River Ewaso Narok has its source at the Aberdares ranges and flows down to Lake Olbollosat in Nyandarua County before finding its way down to Laikipia County. The lake that is home to many endangered bird species was gazetted in 2018 as a protected area following threats of extinction through human activity.

The CS who will be the guest of honour during the forthcoming World Wetlands day to be observed on 2nd February.

The Country’s national event will be held at Rumuruti near Ewaso Narok swamp also known locally as Marura .

Human encroachment through settlement had converted Marura wetland into a beehive of activities where farmers around the swamp engage in farming slash and burn methods.

Other inappropriate farming methods include flood irrigation and the use of heavy pumps which have accelerated the wetlands degradation over the years.

A team of officials who visited Marura found that the wetland had grossly been mismanaged and was made worse by widespread deforestation.

Records indicate that Settlement around Ewaso Narok has been rising gradually from an initial settlement in 1950s of 3%, with increased high in migration from 1990 to 2000s. The households are very near the wetlands boundary with 80% of the households being inside the swamp causing massive environmental degradation.

There are various types of land tenure systems with 65% of the land being recognized as trust land. The holdings vary from household to household; the smallest being 0.25 acres while the largest is 7 acres.

The three main crops grown in Ewaso Narok are maize, beans and tomatoes. The crops are grown under varying proportions but most of the famers grow maize and beans on 0.25 acre each and tomatoes on 0.5 acres. Water from the swamp is mainly used for farming activities through irrigation by flooding and furrow.

This years world wetlands day will focus on sensitizing the public on the need of conservation with a theme of “wetlands and climate change”.

A number of buildup activities starting three days before the event  are lined up for the day’s celebration that will include tree planting, cleaning exercise, Camel caravan and community forum.

Other guests for the event will include cabinet secretaries, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, international conservationists and prominent personalities

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