The World Wetlands Day (WWD) is marked annually on 2nd of February. This year, the World Wetlands Day was at Kericho County, Kericho Township School, Tionosoiyet wetlands.
The theme for this year’s celebrations was “Wetlands for Our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods” and the domesticated slogan from the global theme is “Save Our Wetlands”. The theme was selected to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and specifically their relevance towards achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
MENR & RDA CS Prof Judi Wakhungu giving her remarks during the celebrations [PHOTO: ANTHONY NGARE/NEMA]
This day aims to raise public awareness on the importance and value of wetlands. It supports several industries like environment conservation, tourism, agriculture, fisheries and forestry by ensuring there is enough water supply for people and crops while maintaining good water quality and providing a habitat for commercial species.
National Environment Management Authority continued with its support on the impact and success of Wetlands, together with its partners who included; National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service, WARMA, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wetlands Forum and Nature Kenya among others. The management and conservation of wetlands is critical for the future of humanity and their relevance towards accomplishing the new Sustainable Development Goals.
Among the high profile guests present during the celebrations were the; Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, Prof Judi Wakhungu, Governor Kericho County, H.E. Prof Paul Chepkwony, Principal Secretary, State Department of Environment Mr. Charles Sunkuli, County Commissioner Kericho County, Mr Abdi Muktar. Chairman NEMA board of management, Mr. Maluki Mwendwa, NEMA Board Members, NEMA Director General, Prof. Geoffrey Wahungu and the management.
In his remarks, the NEMA Director General, Prof Geoffrey Wahungu stated, ‘‘It is on the realization of this need for proper wetlands management that NEMA led the process of developing legal and legislative frameworks as well as other management tools to guide the stakeholders as well as the general public in using wetlands in a sustainable manner.’’ He remarked that as part of NEMA’s commitment to conserve the wetlands and other water resources, the organization has also among other activities, guided development of integrated management plans for various wetland ecosystems in the country including Tionosoyiet wetland, inventoried wetlands across the Country to enhance monitoring and tracking of ecological changes in the wetland and continuously undertaken monitoring of wetlands to ensure wise use and curb any practices on wetlands that may result in the degradation and over exploitation of these ecosystems.
NEMA Chairman, Mr. Maluki Mwendwa stressed on this year’s World Wetlands Day theme, which seeks to highlight the importance of wetlands to humanity; presently and in the future particularly in terms of support to livelihoods. He added on that NEMA will continue to review, develop and implement various tools and instruments as appropriate to ensure that wetlands are well managed.
One of the goals of the SDGs is ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu said that it is impossible to attain the these goals without conservation and proper management of wetlands, which are sources of water. She stated that this point is also sustained by the work of the youth in taking it upon themselves in creating awareness on the importance of wetlands and restoring the degraded ones.
Governor Kericho County, H.E. Prof Paul Chepkwony making his remarks during the celebrations [PHOTO: ANTHONY NGARE/NEMA] Being his first celebration of the World Wetlands Day since joining the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Principal Secretary State Department of Environment, Mr. Charles Sunkuli, was privileged to join other present members in the celebration. ‘‘Tionosoyiet being an urban wetland, the Ministry appreciates that it is faced by many challenges such as pollution from waste disposal, effluent discharges and encroachment for settlement and industries.’’ He said.
NEMA DG Prof Geoffrey Wahungu making his remarks during the celberations [PHOTO: ANTONY MWANGI/NEMA] These challenges if left unaddressed will result in the disappearance of critical wetland. He also added that for this reason, the State Department of Environment, through its Urban Rivers Programme, will collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure restoration and rehabilitation of Tionosoyiet urban wetland. He also promised that The Ministry will work with other relevant stakeholders in developing and reviewing the necessary tools and legal frameworks that will enhance conservation and management of wetlands.
Governor Kericho County, H.E. Prof Paul Chepkwony, was categorical on the need to conserve wetlands. He didn’t mince his words when he stated that the continued destruction of wetlands has seen the world loss its diversity something which is likely to continue if nothing is done in the near future. He promised his governments support in the conservation of Tionosoiyet wetlands among other natural resources for the sake of environment.