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.