In what can be seen as a milestone towards conservation of the once “Ewaso Ngiro River”, the national government has eventually announced bold steps towards this community driven effort.
Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary (CS) Keriako Tobiko spelt out a roadmap that would see all stakeholders join hands to protect this crucial water source.
He announced that a meeting of various stakeholders including officials from his ministry, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Council of Governors, County Commissioners of Samburu, Laikipia and Isiolo would be convened to come up with conservation strategies.
“My ministry has come up with an all-inclusive policy that would see efforts made towards conservation of this river. Everyone has a right to share this natural resource and we shall not sit back as corruption impunity to destroy our environment,” said the CS while speaking at Archer’s Post Township.
Mr Tobiko had graced the final day of the annual camel caravan, the most senior government official to attend the event since it commenced six years ago.
At least 200 volunteers and 20 camel had endured the difficult six-day trek to raise awareness on the threats on River Ewaso Ngiro.
One group commenced the walk from Ewaso in Laikipia County another groups started the journey from Merti in Isiolo North with two others being flagged off at Gotu and Barambate in Isiolo South constituency. The trekkers converged at Archers Post in Samburu County before proceeding to the final meeting near the banks of River Ewaso Ngiro.
The CS who was accompanied at the meeting by Hon. Hassan Odha, MP for Isiolo North and other senior officials from national and county governments of Isiolo and Samburu Counties listened keenly as community representatives and caravan participants called for drastic action to conserve the river.
“Illegal abstraction of the river and its tributaries upstream and uncontrolled sand harvesting is causing a lot of suffering for us pastoralists. If the government fails to take action, tourism sector will also suffer,” Mr Abdullahi Tadicha from Korbesa, Merti Sub-County of Isiolo County told the CS.
Mr. Tadicha he had participated in the Camel Caravan for four times faulted national government’s plans to construct a mega dam without consulting communities that depend on River Ewaso Ngiro pointing out that the flow of the would have adverse effects on the river flow.
Hon. Odha while addressing the gathering said more than 3.5million people spread across various counties rely on the river for livelihood as well as livestock and wild animals.
The legislator said for many years, the pastoralists had depended on the wetlands caused by flooding of the river downstream but they have all dried up including the Lorian Swamp.
“Several years ago, we could host our fellow pastoralists from Wajir and Marsabit at chaffa (wetlands) but this is no longer possible. I am ready to push legislation through Parliament that will protect River Ewaso Ecosystem’’.
Merti Integrated Development Programme (MID-P) Executive Director Abdullahi Shandey hailed the commitment by the national government on the community initiated conservation efforts by issuing directives on formation of stakeholders committee for the Ewaso Ng’iro basin.
“The Camel Caravan is no longer an event but a process. We shall also support the county governments of Laikipia, Samburu and Isiolo to come up with relevant legislations to guide on river conservation strategies and particularly one on sand harvesting which is one of the main threats to the sustainability of this water source,” said Shandey.
(CS Keriako Tobiko making speech at Archer’s Post Bridge)
(CS KeriakoTobiko and Hon. Hassan Odha riding camel during the procession in Archer’s Post)