Turning drylands into highlands

No rain and drought in Nyeri county has caused the drying of maize

Is it possible to turn highlands into high deserts, or have drylands in the highlands? Think about it. Where would you classify Mukurweini Sub-county in Nyeri County, drylands/semi-arid or high potential area? If you are wondering all about these, I might have answered sooner than later. I was sailing in the same boat as you before World Desertification and Drought 2022 was held at Giathugu Vocational Institute along Kiahungu,
Kabuta-Murang’a road and which is on top of one
of the intertwined ridges of Mukurweini. It is one of
the highest ridges in the area for from there you can
have a panoramic view of almost the entire south-western
and southeastern part of Nyeri County as well as
the northern part of Murang’a County. “Surely, how did
the organizer choose Mukurweini instead of Kieni
which is traditionally known as dryland ever since?”
my colleagues asked me. The organizer had a transport
logistics problem and our office had the privilege of
arriving at the venue over an hour earlier than the
former. I had no idea how we could have such an
event in a place full of trees and producing so much
food even as the country experiences a very short-
long rain season.

WDCD 2022 was organized by the County
Government of Nyeri in conjunction with Kenya Forest Service, Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund, Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company Limited, and the local Community-Based Organisations among others. NEMA Nyeri County office, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Kenya Red Cross Society among other partners attended the event. The question asked at the beginning of this write-
up was answered by the Director-Water, Irrigation,
Environment, and Climate Change Ms. Yvonne Mathenge whose Department organized the event. To everyone’s surprise, she gave some background information on Mukurewini Sub-county as traditional dryland. It concurred with here since I have been to the lower parts of the sub-county bordering Kirinyaga and lower Murang’a county towards Sagana areas.
The area near Sagana River although hilly is very fragile
and even though trees are removed and over-cultivation done, the land can become unproductive. In light of this, it is possible to turn drylands into high potential lands
but sadly it is very possible to turn high potential and
food basket lands into arid lands thanks to the climate
change phenomena, population increase, and over-grazing
. Take care of the bread baskets and upgrade
drylands into food baskets

Desertification and Drought Day Commemorations

CS Environment and Forestry, Keriako Tobiko (C ) watering a tree with NEMA Board members Vice Chairperson, Dr. Lul Abdiwahid (2nd R) (L_R), Samuel Nyangeso, Charles Mulila and DG Mamo B. Mamo, EBS

 

By Samwel Irungu

Over 2 million hectares of land has been invaded by Prosopis Juliflora commonly known as
Mathenge and the plant is spreading at a rate
of 15% per year. It has become national threat.
Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako
Tobiko said this during Desertification and Drought
Day national celebrations held on 17th June at Eldume
Primary School in Baringo County.
The CS stated that the government has developed
a National Strategy and Action Plan as the solution
to Prosopis which lies in using it for production of
charcoal among other uses. He advised that it must
be done in accordance with the gazetted regulations.
Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo said according
to the National Forest Resources Assessment Report
2021, Baringo County is number 37 with a forest cover
of 4.6% far below the recommended level.
The PS revealed the Ministry has identified 100 schools
in Baringo County to benefit from seed distribution
programme where they will receive 0.8 metric tonnes
of seeds to grow tree seedlings.
The Governor H.E Stanely Kiptis confirmed that County Government of Baringo has worked closely with the National Environment Management Authority to prepare a Baringo County Environment Action Plan. This important document has identified the natural resources in the County, their utilization and conservation status, and analyzed the exploitation trends. The Governor urged the locals to embrace the strategy by the Government to ensure that Mathenge benefits them.

The Vice Chairperson, NEMA Board of management, Dr. Lul Abdiwahid asserted that the Authority has examined land use patterns in the County to determine their impact on the quality and quantity of natural resources. Further, NEMA in collaboration with the County Government of Baringo has prepared a status of the environment report for the county. This report gives a snapshot of the status and health of the natural environment and its inherent resources in the County. She added that NEMA has over the years promoted awareness of the dangers of desertification and the appropriate use of its dry land resources. The Authority supports efforts to combat this and will continue offering regulatory and capacity-building support and any other form of support within its reach, to the County Government of Baringo and other counties, to ensure that the environment is well managed for all Kenyans. NEMA Director General, Mamo B. Mamo, EBS affirmed that the goal of Desertification and Drought Day is to demonstrate that investing in healthy land as part of a green recovery is a smart economic decision not just in terms of creating jobs and rebuilding livelihoods, but in terms of insulating economies against future crises caused by climate change, nature loss, and drought. He added that the current economic challenges that we are facing have reinforced how much we need our forests, drylands, wetlands, and other land ecosystems for food, for the green economy, for eco-tourism, and as a buffer against extreme climate events. Governor Stanley Kiptis highlighted that 75% of Baringo County is ASAL and it is moving to 80% due to the effects of climate change thanking the national government and its state agencies for supporting programs geared towards addressing desertification in the County.
Several other leaders present during the event
included Principal Secretary ASALs, Micah Powon, Baringo County Commissioner, Mr Abdirisack Jaldesa, Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony, Baringo South MP, Charles Kamuren, former NHIF CEO, Simeon Kirgotty, board members and CEOs of SAGAs under the Ministry among others. The theme for this year’s celebrations was-Rising up from drought together which raises awareness on the need to act on the spreading of drought and desertification in the world.