Greening Chalbi Desert

NEMA, partners embark on a plan to green Chalbi desert during the Desertification and Drought Day celebrations at Korolle Oasis

The World Desertification and Drought is a United Nations observance celebrated each year on 17 June. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the presence of desertification and drought, highlighting methods of preventing desertification and recovering from drought. In Kenya, the event was celebrated at Korolle Oasis in Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County. The desert covers an area of 100,000 kilometer square. The theme for the event was, ‘Restoration, Land, Recovery’ and the clarion call was greening Chalbi desert. Korolle Oasis is in the middle of Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County which acts as a watering point where Rendille, Gabra and Borana come to water their animals.
“We came up with a structure, called Environmental Management Committees, composed of local communities and
government agencies working together.We have EMCs around the forest because communities own this resource,” NEMA Director General, Mamo B. Mamo. He added that, “There are indications that the desert is moving from where it was. We are putting up a green wall to ensure it doesn’t spread further causing human suffering.
Human activities are leading to the rapid spread of the desert compared to natural causes. It is a big challenge to plant trees in ASAL areas. What we have been sensitizing people on is to do local seed collection. The native species like acacia do very well here.” The Authority and partners planted over 10,000 trees at Kargi Centre and Korolle
Oasis during the event. The NEMA Director General accompanied by CEO Wild Wide Fund, Mr. Mohamed
Awer also visited Lake Paradise in Marsabit Forest to assess its conservation status, as build up towards.

The Chalbi Desert is a real gem, it is located in Marsabit County, east of the famous Lake Turkana (the largest de-sert lake in Kenya), spreading to the Ethiopian border. Covering an area of 100.000 kilometer square, the Chalbi Desert is one of the hottest and arid places in Kenya.

Interesting Facts about Chalbi Desert Chalbi Desert is a stretch of coarse sand spiced up with pure rocks and immense clay where there are al-so ashgray ridges and broken clusters of tiny huts.
There are pans of salt in the desert which is picked up by many pastoralists and used as a natural animal’s salt
The desert is surrounded by volcanic hills that create a magical panorama with only selected animals and
vegetation that can withstand hostile climates in the entire Sub-Saharan regions.
The southern part of the desert is home to the Rendille while the eastern part which is towards the Ethiopian
border is home to the Gabbra People.
It’s believed that there was a lake in the Chalbi Desert that has dried up a thousand years ago, therefore it was
named the Chalbi Desert which means bare and salty.
Chalbi Desert is the hottest and most arid area in Kenya Average daytime temperatures range from 109 F (43 C)
to 115 F (46 C) degrees whereas the temperature drops to around 57-59 F (14 -15 C) degrees at night.
The area experiences two dry seasons and two rainy seasons. The long-dry season takes place from July to
October, and the short dry season is in January and Feb-ruary with parts of March.
The long rainy season occurs in April and May through parts of June while the short one happens in November
and December.

Things to Do in Chalbi Desert
1- Desert Safari
Chalbi Desert has a lot to offer in picturesque sceneries and tranquil oases. While being there, enjoy a perfect
short drive desert safari. There are excellent for sand dunes for racing and surfing.
2- Camel Ride ( the Ship of the Desert)
Exploring the desert on the back of a camel is quite im-pressive and enjoyable. It is an ideal way to enjoy the
de-sert and to know your Country and the people. It is a unique lifetime experience.
3- Culture Tour
A desert Safari in Chalbi Desert gives visitors the oppor-tunity to interact with local communities like
the Rendille, Gabbra, Turkana, Samburu, and others. It is a way to ex-plore their culture and to know their
traditions and lifestyle

World Desertification and Drought Day 2021

The World Desertification and Drought is a United Nations observance celebrated each year on 17 June. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the presence of desertification and drought, highlighting methods of preventing desertification and recovering from drought.

In Kenya, the event was celebrated at Korolle Oasis in Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County. The desert covers an area of 100,000 kilometer square. The theme for the event was, ‘Restoration, Land, Recovery and the clarion call was greening Chalbi desert.

Korolle Oasis is in the middle of Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County which acts as a watering point where Rendille, Gabra and Borana come to water their animals.

Desertification and DroughtDay commemoration  at Korolle Oasis, Marsabit County.

“We came up with a structure, called Environmental Management Committees, composed of local communities and government agencies working together. We have EMCs around the forest because communities own this resource,” NEMA Director General, Mamo B. Mamo.

He added that, “There are indications that the desert is moving from where it was. We are putting up a green wall to ensure it doesn’t spread further causing human suffering. Human activities are leading to the rapid spread of the desert compared to natural causes. It is a big challenge to plant trees in ASAL areas. What we have been sensitizing people on is to do local seed collection. The native species like acacia do very well here.”

The Authority and partners planted over 10,000 trees at Kargi Centre and Korolle Oasis during the event.

The NEMA Director General accompanied by CEO Wild Wide Fund, Mr. Mohamed Awer also visited Lake Paradise in Marsabit Forest to assess its conservation status, as build up towards.

The event was attended by the Governor and Senator Marsabit County Mohamed Mahmud and Godana Hargura respectively, CAS Ministry of Environment and Forestry who represented the Environment CS, Chairman Nema, Director General, Ambassadors, MPs among host of other leaders.

While making his remarks, NEMA Chairman John Konchellah noted that the Authority and partners are working on creating a greenbelt along the desert. He added that the desert offers an ample place for sporting activities as they continue to undertake environmental restoration of the degraded area. Achievement of land neutrality is possible in the country.

During the event, the Authority also launched the Environmental Performance Index for Marsabit County which indicates the status of environment in the County specifically the tree cover. The guests expressed the need to manage deserts and prevent the expansion of the desert into the neighbourhoods. This includes management of the oasis to reduce the impact of overgrazing on the oasis.

The Director General Mamo B. Mamo noted that NEMA and county Government of Marsabit will undertake desilting of the Oasis through Environmental Management Committee started in the county to look into the environmental issues. Build the capacity of the traditional institutions to manage their resources. Take responsibility for your Environment as an individual-collect your own waste.

NEMA and partners have planted over 10,000 trees at Kargi and Korolle Oasis to mark celebration of Desertification And Drought Day

The Authority wish to thank partners and stakeholders for contributing financially or in kind towards the event. The parners includes; UNDP, World Vision, Kenya Forest Service, Nature Kenya, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya Redcross Society, Equity Bank, KenGen, WWF, NECC, Taifa loaf, Netfund, Concern Worldwide,USAID, British High Commission, Mercy Corps, Kenya Water Towers Agency, Nyayo Tea Zones, Office of Attorney General, County Government of Marsabit and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.


The 2021 Desertification and Drought Day to be held on 17 June will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land. Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security. It helps biodiversity to recover. It locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change. It can also lessen the impacts of climate change and underpin a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brief on Chalbi Desert

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will work with the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) of Costa Rica, the host of the global observance, to encourage households, communities, private sector and countries to have a better relationship with nature as we recover from COVID-19.

Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been altered by humans to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, highways and homes. Fixing damaged ecosystems mitigates against climate change and bolsters nature’s defences against disasters and extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts, floods, and sand and dust storms. Restoring natural landscapes reduces close contact between wildlife and human settlements, creating a natural buffer against zoonotic diseases.

Avoiding, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.

Land restoration can contribute greatly to post-COVID19 economic recovery. Investing in land restoration creates jobs and generates economic benefits, and could provide livelihoods at a time when hundreds of millions of jobs are being lost.

Date: 17th June 2021

Venue: Marsabit County

Venue: Korolle Oasis, Marsabit County

“Smart land-based restoration initiatives would be particularly helpful for women and youth, who are often the last to receive help in times of crises. As we enter the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, we have a real chance to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. If countries can restore the nearly 800 million hectares of degraded land they have pledged to restore by 2030, we can safeguard humanity and our planet from the looming danger,” adds Mr. Thiaw.

The COVID19 pandemic has reinforced just how much we need our forests, drylands, wetlands and other land ecosystems: for food, for the green economy, for eco-tourism, as a buffer against extreme climate events. In Costa Rica, our unique tropical forests are a limited and precious natural resource that we cannot neglect. On Desertification and Drought Day, I urge us all to push hard to restore our lands. We all have a role to play, because we all have a stake in our planet’s future.

— Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica

To find out how to organize a Desertification and Drought Day event or learn what you can do to help prevent land degradation and desertification, visit this page for frequent updates and download the campaign materials from the menu on your right. Please submit your event with photos to and we will feature it on our website!

You can also follow and support the campaign on social media using these hashtags: #DesertificationAndDroughtDay #RestorationLandRecovery

About Desertification and Drought Day

Desertification and Drought Day – known as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought before 2020 – is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that reversing land degradation is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

In 2021, 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 and nature loss, and in accelerating progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we recover from COVID-19


Tree planting at Kargi health Centre as a build up towards Desertification And Drought Day  at Korolle Oasis, Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County. Greening Chalbi Desert

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted on 17th of June 1994 and came into force in 24th of December 1996 under which the World Desertification and Drought Day is observed globally.

  • The convention aims at combating desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in the countries affected through effective action at all levels supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements in the framework of an integrated approach to help achieve sustainable development.
  • The World Desertification and Drought Day (WDDD) formerly World Day to Combat Desertification (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 mainly in ASAL counties the last 2 years in Kajiado and Makueni counties respectively
  • The UNCCD is domesticated at the country level through the development and implementation of the National Action Programme (NAP) guided by the UNCCD Secretariat.
  • Kenya developed its first NAP in 2002. The 2nd NAP (2015-2015) was prepared to align it to the UNCCD Ten Year Strategy 2008-2018 which has 5 operational objectives namely: advocacy, awareness-raising and education; policy framework; science, technology and knowledge; capacity building; financing and technology transfer.
  • These objectives are the cornerstone on which all policy and instructional frameworks are supposed to anchor their strategies to address DLDD issues
  • The commemoration of the day is indeed important for the country as it helps us reflects on the many challenges facing us in our effort to combat desertification, land degradation and mitigate effects of drought (DLDD).
  • We look at specific ways that local communities can build resilience against current multi-fold development challenges through sustainable land management practices.
  • We need to remind everyone of the importance of land and its role in producing food, fible, feed and generating local employment, as well as its ability to add to the sustainability, stability and security of vulnerable communities
  • This year’s Theme and Slogan “F Feed. Fibre. sustainable production and consumption” focuses on changing public attitudes to the leading drivers of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.
  • As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre(for clothing). Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.
  • To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.
  • The official global event will take place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, while the Kenya event will be at Kargi, Loiyangalani Subcounty of Marsabit County The County is largely an arid/semi-arid and experiences food insecurity and poverty due to persistent drought and inadequate adaptation strategies and this needs to be emphasized during this very important event.
  • The preparatory process has been largely virtual through zoom meetings (due to Corona virus pandemic) of the national steering committee while activities on the ground started a few weeks ago through tree planting and awareness creation. The members of this committee are appreciated for the efforts in making this day’s commemoration a success. The partners who have also chipped in with resources to support the event need to be appreciated too.
  • At the global level the end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unstainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.
    • Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded
    • Over 70 per cent of natural ecosystems have been transformed. By 2050, this could hit 90 per cent
    • By 2030, food production will require an additional 300 million hectares of land
    • By 2030, the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – over 115 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Colombia
  • In order to respond DLDD challenges, the Government of Kenya has developed necessary interventions.
  • Some of the interventions include: Enactment of the National Land Policy, the Climate Change Act 2016, National Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan, the establishment of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the establishment of Climate Change Secretariat, LDN Target setting, Kenya Strategic Investment Framework on Sustainable Land Management among others.
  • Besides these efforts, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in collaboration with NEMA has reviewed and aligned the National Action Programme for combating desertification with the 10 year UNCCD strategy 2008-2018.
  • It is only through inclusivity that Kenya shall attain all the SDGs by 2030. As one way of promoting sustainable development, through a Gazette Notice No. 2334, the The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry banned the manufacture, importation and use of plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging last year. This is a milestone in ensuring the land on which production occurs is kept in a healthy and safe state.
  • In addition, the ministry has developed the Environment Policy and reviewed relevant policies to be in line with the Constitution and all these initiatives will lead to improved community participation in environmental planning and management as well as strengthened environmental governance and partnerships
  • In conclusion, as a country, if each and every citizen does not play their roles to mitigate against the effects of desertification, land degradation and drought, we may in future not only lack food, feed and fibre but the land may not be able to sustain us. By turning land degradation into land restoration, we can realize the land´s full potential.
  • We welcome everybody to this year’s commemoration event either through local/ individual conservation activities or join the national event at Marsabit County.

Desertification and Drought Day 2020

The Desertification and Drought Day (DDD) formally known as World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) has been observed annually every 17th day of June since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to International Cooperation to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and reduce the effects of drought (DLDD).

It is a unique occasion that reminds everybody that DLDD can be effectively tackled, and that key tools to this challenge lay in strengthening community participation and co-operation at all levels.

This year’s national commemoration will be held on 17th June, 2020 at Kargi, Marsabit County and will focus changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption” and runs under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” and is connected to seeking to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.

The global observance will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea.  The Chief Guest will be the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry and a host of other Dignitaries as well the Public.


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


11.09.2017:- In its message to the High Level Segment of COP 13, Kenya,as the chair of the African region group noted that, drought was the most adverse climatic phenomena affecting the African region, and has resulted into declining land productivity, increased food insecurity, exacerbated poverty & unemployment levels, decreased Domestic Product, increased competition for natural resources, socio-economic disruptions and may compromise our efforts to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality.


11.09.2017:- Kenya’s Mr. Richard Mwendandu, Director of Multilateral Env. Agreements, State Dept. of Env. and Chair of the African group of negotiators, flanked by  members of Kenya’s delegation to COP 13 (at the back) and Ghana (front), delivering a statement on behalf of Kenya, which is the chair of the African region group, during the High Level Segment of COP 13 in Ordos, China.

Delegates to COP 13, among them Mr. John Kioli from the Green Africa Foundation, taking part in tree planting at the Kubuqi  Desert, Inner Mongolia, China, during an excursion tour to view the Land degradation restoration programmes in the Desert.

Delegates attending COP 13 in  Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China, among them Mr. John Kioli of the Green Aftica Foundation, during an excursion tour to the Kubuqi  Desert, viewing an unmanned aerial vehicle planting (drone),which is used to irrigate the planted seedlings using high pressure. The Desert is 100Kms from Ordos and 800Kms from Beijing city.


Dr. Kanga from the State Dept. of Nat. Res with Mr. John Kioli of Green Africa Foundation, at the exhibition stand of Eritrea at the Ordos International Convention Center in China. Eritrea, just like Kenya, is a member of the Horn of Africa Region, and it show-cased the various interventions the Government is putting in place to combat desertification. The other African Countries that are showcasing during the COP 13 here in Ordos alongside Eritrea are:- Namimbia and South Africa.



Members of the civil society attending the UNCCD COP 13 Conference on Desertification in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China,among them Kenya’s John Kioli of  Green Africa Foundation, during the launch of the Land rights report  at the sidelines of the Conference.


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.


Let us work togather to combat desertification -CS WAKHUNGU

Africa is one of the Continents which most severely impacted by climate change and extremely vulnerable to climate variability due to its low adaptive capacity, the CS Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has said. Although Africa has in the recent past made progress, development of emerging challenges such as climate change and desertification, natural resource degradation still continues to negatively impact the continent.

Wakhungu said this when she officially opened the first Regional Forum on African Initiative for Combating Desertification and strengthening Resilience to Climate Change in the Horn of Africa, held at the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) headquarters in Nairobi.

CS said that the Forum is a reaffirmation of African people’s commitment to turning climate change and other environmental challenges into opportunities because the current negative trends in land and forest degradation are not able to guarantee food and water security, generate viable income and cope with the impacts of climate change and desertification.

The Forum was a follow up of two previous events on Preparatory Meeting of TICAD VI Side Event on African Initiative for Combating Desertification and the Launch of the African Initiative during the TICAD VI Summit which was held in August 2016 in Nairobi. This was the first time the Forum was being hosted on the African soil since its inception in 1993, she added.

IMG_4392The CS said that this meeting has come at a time when Kenya is experiencing drought due to depressed rains which were expected at the end of last year. To reverse these negative trends, the CS noted that Kenya had put in place robust measures which included sustainable afforestation and reforestation, encouraging agroforestry and reducing greenhouse gases by restoring the country’s forest cover to at least 10% by the year 2020.

In achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Wakhungu said, the country should adopt an integrated landscape approach of embracing urgent and collaborative action to restore, protect and sustainably manage our forestry resources, woodlands and agricultural landscape.

On her part, he Principal Secretary Dr. Margaret Mwakima who accompanied the CS, thanked development partners and in particular JICA for their timely vision and consistency in supporting environment and development initiatives within the dry land ecosystems and particularly the African Initiative.

“Evidently, climate change is real. Therefore, combating desertification to strengthen resilience to climate change is key and inevitable in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.” The PS added.

The Forum brought together delegates from seven African Countries namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somali, South Sudan, Sudan and Kenya. It is also being attended by delegates from Japan which is a development partner and the Sahel Region who are involved in natural resource management for the benefit of communities.

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

World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) 2016

Venue: Sidika Primary School, Migori County
Date: 17th June, 2016
Theme: Inclusive cooperation for achieving land degradation neutrality
Slogan: “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People”
WDCD 2016 event advocates for the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded and contribute towards achieving the overall Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In order to ‘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.

Background information
The proposed venue for this year’s national (Kenya) commemoration of the World Day to Combat Desertification is Sidika Primary School grounds. The school is in Karundu Division of Nyatike Sub County of Migori County. The school also neighbours Sidika Secondary School. The area is semi-arid and has all the characteristics of an emerging desert, with prolonged dry spells and short erractic rains.

The proposed site has land measuring about 5 hectares within the school compound where the school management has planted some trees which are doing well. This is the area earmarked to plant some of the 2500 seedlings pledged by the Kenya Forest Service to be supplied free of charge. The Sidika community, groups and households neighbouring the proposed site shall host the event.
The preparation for WDCD commemoration, has involved two Steering Committees at the national level (4 meetings held by end of May) coordinated by the National Environment Management Authority an institution under the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, and at the County level the Local Steering Committee under the County Government of Migori. The composition of these committees covers all relevant government and Civil Society organizations. The county committee will identify various activities to be undertaken during the commemoration.
The main activities will include tree planting, a procession, exhibitions, media talk shows and a visit to selected rehabilitated areas in the county near the venue. The climax will be the various messages by dignitaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities. Others will be the Director General of NEMA Prof Geoffrey Wahungu and the representatives of UNEP and UNDP. The sponsors and partners who have supported the effort are Safaricom (most successful mobile phone service Provider Company in Kenya, UNDP, KFS and NETFUND.

In Migori County, the total area under forest cover is about 695.5 ha out of which 43% is woodland while the rest is plantation located on various hills. 435.5 ha of the forest land are gazetted and 260 ha are non – gazetted forests. There are 19 identified forests in the county with 16% of the population involved in forestry activities.
The Kenya Forest Service is involved in a campaign to sensitize the community to plant more trees. In addition, the government initiated several projects such as the Kazi Kwa Vijana Programme and the World Bank funded Kenya Youth Empowerment Project which has been involved in extensive planting of trees across the constituencies. Major challenges faced in conservation of forests include charcoal burning and frequent outbreaks of wild forest fires. These forests are: Nyasoko, Sagegi, Magina, Giribe, Otacho, Nyamarere, Rabuor, Ranen, Kwa, Aroso, Ombo, Omange, Got Kogalo, Nyaitara, Gatambega, Tarakwiti, Nyandiri and Makangwa among others.
Several Hectares of forest cover are lost every year through illegal logging, encroachment, settlement, cultivation and development projects in forest reserves. In addition, unsuitable utilization of these resources, lack of capacity to value forest goods and services, forest fires, lack of harmonized guidelines on management of trans-boundary forest resources and lack of forest zoning.
The major forests such as Nyatike, Got-kachola are being deforested at an alarming rate due to charcoal production, logging, encroachment and settlements.
The main forest products include timber, wood fuel and charcoal. Some of the trees and shrubs have medicinal value and are used in the extraction of herbal medicine. Poles and posts are also increasing being produced for purposes of fencing and electricity transmission.

Those who engage in tree farming usually accrue incomes from sale of timber, poles, posts, fire wood and charcoal. The practice is still low but steadingly rising in consideration of the improving prices at the market place.

The county lies in the lowlands and depends mainly on rivers whose sources are in the highlands. However, there are numerous springs whose protection is necessary. The government and other development partners have been engaged in protection of the springs and wells in the county thereby improving access to safe drinking water to the public.
Conservation of these water catchments is vital for the county’s survival and prosperity. Conservation is being undertaken by government agencies such as the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) among other stakeholders with increasing the tree covers at the water catchment areas being top priority.

Most agricultural and mining activities lead to soil erosion within the county but efforts are being made to sensitize farmers on good farming practices to curb environmental degradation. The low lying areas of Nyatike Sub County are mostly affected by erosion from storm water. The Department of Agriculture has spearheaded efforts to prevent soil erosion and rehabilitate degraded areas. The measures include; building of gabions, digging terraces in the farms, planting of grass. The proposed irrigation project in lower Kuja River will also assist the management of the storm water and mitigate against soil erosion.

The forests in the county are a source of wood fuel mainly through harvesting of the dead wood. However, the use of wood fuel has to be sustainable. The cessation of massive tobacco growing has saved the trees that would otherwise have been used as fuel wood for curing. Firewood constitutes 79.7% of the households’ energy demand while charcoal accounts for 16,7%. Efforts to provide alternatives sources of energy like solar and LPG are slowly being adopted and promoted by the Department of Energy and the NGOs but the uptake is still slow.
The fertiliser trees growing in the county are mainly the nitrogen fixing trees such as sesbania, calliandra species, luecena species which are exotic trees and acacia species which are natural trees. Other agro forestry trees grown include: Dombeya goetinezii, Markhamia lutea, Grevillea robusta, and Cordial abyssinca among others.

Fruit trees are grown in the county though in small scale and specifically for domestic use. Some fruit trees also grow naturally in the forest reserves. The fruit trees grown are notably mango trees passion fruit.

Trees and forests play an important role in carbon sequestration and act as carbon sinks for soaking more carbon than they emit. In the reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions the County has initiated measures like adoption of greener technologies, tree planting and reforestation.

Environmental Degradation Causes
The major contributors of the environmental degradation in the county include overstocking, flooding, mining, deforestation, and high population density. The community majorly in Nyatike and Kuria East Sub-Counties keep large herds of cattle which have led to overgrazing hence causing soil erosion. The back flow of the Lake Victoria waters causes damages to crops, homesteads and livestock along the lakeshore. It also causes flooding of River Kuja along the lower regions of Nyatike leading to the formation of gulley’s and eventually soil erosion. Mining has also left large parcels of land derelict. Soil erosion takes place and heavily pollutes dams and rivers especially River Migori.
Water supply to major rivers in the county has declined significantly due to deforestation. This affects the agricultural sector directly and indirectly resulting into reduced crop productivity and subsequent food deficits in Migori County.
In the last decades, frequencies and severity of drought in the county has increased, as a result livestock industry has severely been affected especially in Nyatike areas thus leading to shortage of livestock products and loss of livelihood of pastoral communities.
Environmental degradation has resulted in severe climatic changes whose effects are currently being felt by the residents. These climatic changes effects include rain pattern changes, massive soil erosion, landslides and prolonged drought seasons. The above effects have resulted to reduced agricultural productivity which has in turn jeopardized the already vulnerable food security given that residents of the county are agriculture dependent.

Various government institutions including KFS, NEMA and KWS together with NGOs such as World Vision have embarked on mitigation measures to reverse the adverse climatic change effects. Adaptation strategies like afforestation and protection of catchment areas have been initiated. Proper land use practices including enforcements of the various Acts and Laws have been advocated and disseminated by agricultural and environmental practitioners in a bid to mitigate the climate change effects and prevent further environmental degradation.
Migori is endowed with mineral resources that are scattered within the county. There are Gold deposits in Masara, Macalder, Masaba, Kehancha, Kitere, Kamwango (Rongo) and Migori, Carlos mines in Kehancha and Prancis mines in the Kuria-Transmara border. Equally Copper, Azurite and Silver deposits are found in Macalder. The exploration of these minerals at commercial levels has not been determined although currently individual and cooperative prospecting is being done on artisanal scale.
The mining methods currently under use are both surface and underground. Surface mining involves both alluvial mining and mechanical mining such as open cast, while underground mining involves supported and unsupported mining methods. The challenges that arise from mining are; acid mine drainage (AMD), air and noise pollution, frequent collapse of mines, heavy metals pollution, mine caving and mercury pollution.
In addition to gold mining potential, the county has adequate deposits of good quality sand along Lake Victoria and major rivers like Migori, Kuja and Kuria. Hardcore stones which are crushed for ballast are also available in plenty in the upper regions of Nyatike. Ballast and sand are therefore comparatively cheap within the county and sufficient to meet the future requirements in the construction industry.
Migori County has abundant deposits of clay soils which have been proved to be suitable for brick making and pottery. They are plenty especially in parts of Uriri, Rongo and Kuria constituencies. Rock deposits from which hard core and stone can be extracted for construction industry are also available in upper regions of Nyatike and Uriri.
Tourism plays a major role as it brings revenue to the county government. It is imperative to promote sustainable tourism measures and practices within the county. Some of the tourists’ attraction sites within the Migori County include Thimlich Ohinga historical sites Migori main wildlife attractions are birds found in small forest patches, primates and in the lake shore environment.
Migori has potential tourist attraction sites, this include Gogo Fall, Traditional Caves, historical sites like Nyora caves, and sporting activities like fishing. The lake shores offer sandy beaches with potential for development of tourist sites.
Migori County acts as a transit point to tourist and traders moving into Tanzania. Most hotels in the county are geared towards accommodating transit guests and therefore lack amenities associated with tourism.

NEMA participates in a successful UNCCD COP12, Ankara, Turkey

Decision makers from 195 member states (about 6000 delegates) attended and discussed solutions to issues related to Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD). The Executive Secretary of the UNCCD Monique Barbut noting that Land rehabilitation is one of the pathways to sustainable development, by rehabilitating degraded land, many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would be more attainable. Land that is properly nurtured fosters food and water security and reverses negative climate change impacts such as forced migration, by cultivating opportunities for growth and ensuring stability. To invest in the land is to invest in sustainable livelihoods therefore the goal of COP12 is to provide practical steps to make the rehabilitation of degrading land areas a reality. The Parties were asked to identify ways to contribute to success of the 2015 Climate Change Conference in December in Paris.

NEMA was represented by Dr Kennedy Ondimu the Director Planning and Research Coordination and Mr Francis Inganga the Acting Deputy Director Environmental Rsearch who is also the National Science and Technology Correspondent. The head of the delegation was Mr Richard Mwendnandu of the Director of MEAs at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) as appointed by the Cabinet Secretary. The others from various MDAs and CSOs were as follows: Mutie Nzau, Humphrey Rutto, B. Manyonge, Silas Mulehi, Julius Mwangi, Dr Warugute, Andrew Machora, E. Osoro, Dan Marangu Kithinji, Gibson Kiragu, Frank Msafiri (CSO), George Orina, Dr Jane Wamuongo and Geoffrey Nyamasege. It was the biggest delegation ever participated in UNCCD COP from Kenya.
Mr Inganga, Dr Wamuongo and Julius Mwangi attended and participated in the Committee on Science and Technology (CST -12) meetings and many side events one of which Mr Inganga was a panelist. They also joined the others to participate in the Africa Group meetings almost on daily basis to contribute to the African region position on most of the issues to be negotiated. Mr Mwendandu, Dr Ondimu, Dr Warugute and Dan Kithinji among others participated in the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC-14). During the side event in which Mr Inganga was a panelist he presented a paper entitled: “Drought Risk Management Policies for Sustainable Development: The Kenyan situation” emphasizing the RISKS AND vulnerability of communities in the drylands. Dr Swasuri the Chair of the National Land Commission (NLC) also attended the COP. Three Members of Parliament led by the Deputy Speaker Laboso attended the Parliamentary sessions. Mr Kilonzo Kiema the Ambassador of Kenya to Turkey was also present and assisted the delegates greatly.
It was agreed that the Kenya delegation members should strive to attend all sessions, side events and most important the Contact Groups meetings and Round Table Meetings. Therefore it was agreed during the preparatory meetings that the delegation was hold meetings while in Ankara to strategize on full participation.
Kenya delegation carried the message that the successful twelfth session of the COP will depend on right strategies and tactics of the negotiators. Good teams need to be put in place for negotiations on identified issues of importance for the African (read Kenya) Group. Africa and world community should keep the momentum at the COP level and be open to new positive ideas and proposals for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted recently.
Finally, Kenya was guided in its position by the result of the Africa regional meeting held in Pretoria in preparation for the COP12. Noting that, the African Group, together with G77 and China, will continue to work towards strengthening the implementation of the Convention in close cooperation with other Parties as well as in partnership with NGOs and other components of the civil society.
UNCCD COP 12 opened on Monday the 12th 2015, in Ankara, Turkey. The high-level segment was took place on Tuesday, the 20th and Wednesday the 21st of October 2015. During the high level segment, the Ministers and other head of states held round-table discussions to identify possible solutions to water scarcity, land degradation and desertification while upholding efforts to mitigate the effects of drought and preventing further degradation. It was also noted that through policy implementation, achieving a land degradation neutral (LDN) world is within reach. The round tables had the themes: “the climate change”, “the relationship of the desertification with the water and drought’ and lastly “land degradation neutrality”.

On the 12th, during the opening ceremony, Prof Veysel Eroglu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkey as the COP12 President took over after endorsement from Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Namibia, the President of the COP 11. In his speech Prof Veysel stressed that Climate Change, desertification and drought are among the foremost global challenges today directly affection over 1.5billion people. He challenged everybody to plant one tree seedlings towards addressing these problems.
Welcoming participants, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut after leading the delegates in a minute of silence for the victims of terrorist bombing in Ankara on Saturday the 10th of October, she said that the convention is an “organization in motion” and noted the increased recognition of land issues at the global level, highlighting the inclusion of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target in the SDGs and acknowledgement of the role of land in climate change negotiations. She reiterated that achieving a LDNW is key to achieving progress on other issues, including the water-energy-food nexus and eradication of extreme poverty. She expressed hope for guidance to enhance the scientific base of the Convention, a target-setting approach, and monitoring action programmes at all levels.

After the round-table meetings, the General Assembly Ministerial Session agreed that the decisions of the COP will be presented to the Climate Change Summit that will be held in Paris in December 2015, by the Cop12 president.
Approximately 6,000 participants of the COP adopted 35 decisions following deliberations on agenda items related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), including how to pursue the target to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) and how to align the UNCCD’s goals and parties’ action programmes with the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Parties also considered messages for the Paris Climate Change Conference, which will take place from 30th November to11th December 2015.

It is worth pointing out that all the 35 decisions of the COP12 will have far reaching ramification on affairs of this country in terms of addressing issues of the SDG number 15 and especially the target 15.3. The country needs to move with speed to implement the recently developed National Action Programme (NAP) 2015-2025 for the next 15 years by involving everybody at national and county levels.

 It is crucial that Kenya links UNCCD activities with climate change and biological diversity activities in Kenya (a forum be established where the three UN conventions matters can be transacted in an integrated manner) for the domestication of the same
 Equally for synergetic approach to the three Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNCBD) especially as it touches on implementation and reporting, NEMA and the government should support the participation of all the desk officers in all the COPs of the three conventions for them to understand their interrelationships.
 Kenya to adopt all the 35 decisions arrived at during the COP12 and its related subsidiary bodies
 After alignment of the NAP to The Strategy, Kenya shall have to set aside funds for reviewing the same in the next few years to align it to the SDGs especially the SDG 15 with its target 15.3
 The Government of Kenya to support implementation of the NAP through allocation of funds to the relevant sectors including involvement of CSOs
 The Government of Kenya to support documentation of Best/ good Practices in various parts of the country with a view of reporting on the same to the UNCCD through the PRAIS system next reporting cycle next year 2016
 Enhance information sharing between sectors in the area of DLDD and SLM
 Lobby the government to allocate resources towards meeting the newly adopted SDGs especially the one on LDN (SDG number15 with the target 15.3)