Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Mr. Keriako Tobiko, has said land degradation and climate change arising from human activities have adversely affected natural resources leading to desertification, and called on Kenyans to ensure proper land management and environmental conservation in a bid to reduce poverty and extreme hunger.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Mohamed Elmi, during the celebrations to mark the 2019 World Day to Combat Desertification in Makindu, Makueni ounty, the CS said that, the ministry will come up with a program on restoration and afforestation, where they will work closely with the counties to increase the country’s forest cover by 10% by 2022.

Mr. Tobiko decried the low forest cover in Makueni county, which he attributed to cutting down of trees for charcoal production ,while sand harvesting has led to degradation of river beds and drying up of rivers. The CS said local communities should build resilience against current multi-fold development challenges through sustainable land management practices to avert desertification, and urged Kenyans to undertake tree planting activities at institutional and household level; rehabilitate water towers and wetlands.

Makueni Governor H.E. Hon. Kivutha Kibwana said cutting down of trees for firewood and charcoal and land degradation are accelerating desertification.

The Governor vouched for the enforcement of the climate change Act to address the emerging environmental issues and mitigate desertification.

The WDCD is observed on 17th June each year as required under the United Nations Convection to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which Kenya signed in 1994 and ratified in 1997.

Kenya has observed this day since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification, land degradation and mitigate effects of drought. The global event was marked in Ankara, Turkey.

The CAS Hon. Mohamed Elmi, with students from Salama Secondary School, Makindu, during tree planting to mark the WDCD


Kenya’s Dr. , Ondimu from the MENR, flanked by Mr. Dan Kithinji from the Ministry, making a statement on behalf of the African region group in Ordos, China

Kenya was among the 196 countries that attended the thirteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 13) that opened in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China.

The conference also attended by 20 international organizations, witnessed the handing over the COP presidency to Mr. Zhang Jianlong, Minister of State Forestry Administration, China, as the 13th President.

The COP presidency was handed over from Turkey who held the 12th conference presidency. During the handing over, the country was represented by Hon. Cemal Noğay, Deputy Undersecretary, Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey, on behalf of Hon. Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs.

Mr. Zhang Jianlong urged the conference parties to urgently consider integrating the Sustainable Development Goal on Desertification in their development plans in order to achieve a Land Degradation-neutral world by 2030.

Equally, he called on the parties to consider the future strategic Framework of the Convention, Implementation of the comprehensive communication strategy, and the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the fight against Desertification.

He noted that COP 13 was a gathering of great minds to discuss ways to combat desertification and share experiences of controlling the spread of  deserts in the world.

The President also called on the delegates to ensure that, starting from Ordos, and in the course of combating desertification, they embark on a fight side by side and engage in a common Endeavour to pursue green development.

Addressing the same gathering, the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Monique Barbut observed that, substantial achievements have resulted from efforts made over the past years. She added that more was expected with the strategic framework to be formed at from Ordos’s conference.

The executive Secretary further expressed fears that, the window of opportunity created from aligning the Convention with the 2030 Agenda was limited against high expectations. This therefore required more effort at COP 13 and thereafter to enable refocus implementation and translating the Land Degradation Neutrality targets into action.

Baurbut further noted that, COP 13 needed to take decisions on issues that had not been dealt with, including drought and sand storms, gender, land tenure security, and acceleration of knowledge and strategic communication.

Kenya on behalf of the African region and in its capacity as chair of the African group of negotiators, in a statement read by Dr. Kennedy Ondimu, of the State Department of Environment, said the country was looking forward to the adoption of the future strategic framework, which will be a landmark of the conference.

This will enhance UNCCD’s role in contributing to the implementation of sustainable development goals and the Rio convention, in a synergetic and integrated manner Dr. Ondimu added.


Fostering sustainable land practises

Dancers entertaining the guests [PHOTO: MARY AMONDO/NEMA]
World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) 2016 advocates for the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded and contribute towards achieving the overall Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is an annual event celebrated every June 17th.
This year, Pap Sori, Karungu township in Migori County played host to WDCD where the message was, ‘leave no one behind’ as proclaimed in the new Sustainable Development Goals, achieving land degradation neutrality needs to be in the forefront to meet our requirements and develop sustainability.The theme for this year’s event was ‘Inclusive cooperation for achieving land degradation neutrality’ and the domesticated slogan was “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People”

Environment and Natural Resources CS, Prof Judi Wakhungu making her remarks during the event [PHOTO: ANTONY MWANGI/NEMA]

The chief guest was the cabinet Secretary, ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Prof Judi Wakhungu who was accompanied by her two PS, Dr. Margaret Mwakima, PS state department of Natural Resources and Mr. Charles Sunkuli, PS state department of Environment.
In her remarks, Prof Wakhungu gave an overview of state of desertification and land degradation world over. She stated, “dry lands account for 40 percent of the earth’s surface out of which over two-thirds of the planet’s surface is affected by desertification. Desertification affects over 2 billion people out of 7.4 billion of the global population and affects around 100 countries across the 5 continents.Alluding to the theme, Prof Wakhungu called for inclusive cooperation among all actors as key for making Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) one of the fundamental solutions to contribute to achieving objectives of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She also expressed her gratitude to all those who have played their rightful part in the general improvement of the environment in one way or another while at the same time calling upon Kenyans to enhance efforts towards combating desertification.PS state department of Environment, Mr. Charles Sunkuli stated that the Ministry is playing a leading role in the protection and conservation of the environment, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and management of natural resources for sustainable development.

He added that there was need to develop innovative approaches to Sustainable Land Management (SLM) where resource conservation and land rehabilitation can be combined to create employment and improve livelihoods across the country. To fast track this, the Ministry has initiated a number of programmes, such as, restoration of the five water towers which in recent years has experienced massive encroachment, deforestation and degradation.
PS state department of Natural Resources, Dr. Margaret Mwakima postulated that land degradation needed a concerted effort to manage its effects. She argued that when everyone will be brought on board, it will be possible for adopt best practices that contribute to land degradation and desertification.NEMA board of management chairman remarks were made by Dr. Susan Mwamlole who outlined some of the milestones NEMA has made such as preparation of National Environment Action Plans (NEAPs), and District Environment Action Plans (DEAPs) which serve as policy framework for mainstreaming environmental planning and management. “We have also prepared the State of Environment (SoE) Reports for Kenya and selected Counties with outstanding environmental challenges. In the area of development control and management, the Authority has made use of the Environment Impact Assessment and Environmental Audit (EIA/EA) a basic requirement for infrastructural development and investors which has assisted in the protection and conservation of critical ecosystems as well as protection of human health,” the Board chair stated.To ensure sustainable utilization of our resources, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) coordinates implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements including UNCCD in collaboration with Lead Agencies.


The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources is the Focal Point of the Convention, NEMA Director General, Prof Geoffrey Wahungu stated. The Director General pledged the support of the Authority to continue supporting initiatives to combat desertification and promote sustainable land management practices in Kenya.
The County also called for the ministry and NEMA to work together to address land degradation and desertification in the County. More specifically, they requested for the government to come up with an initiative to engineer water from Lake Victoria to benefit the residents.

VIPs present in a procession to the venue [PHOTO: ANTHONY NGARE/NEMA]

Source:  NEMA Ecoflash