Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya on unveiled Kenya's wetlands restoration strategy with a call for more participation of local communities including youth, women and children in environmental conservation activities.
Speaking at a meeting of Regional and County Directors of Environment and Conservators of Forests as well as County Executive Committee Members (CECMs) for Environment, Hon Tuya said her Ministry had adopted a catchment approach to restoration of wetlands as opposed to localised interventions which often fail.
"Restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands is a priority and should be done on a catchment scale or as a basin. I am happy this is the approach that the State Department for Environment and Climate Change has taken.
"Wetland restoration that is done at local scale is often negated by degradation upstream or downstream, and when it is done in this uncoordinated manner, it is shortlived and the benefits are not fully realized," Hon Tuya said.
On greater participation of local communities in environmental conservation including wetlands restoration, the Cabinet Secretary said their involvement would help create jobs in line with the Kenya Kwanza administration's bottom-up economic model.
"We can be inspired by one of the most successful wetlands restorations initiatives, the Working for Wetlands in South Africa, a 20-year wetlands restoration program that resulted in the generation of 37,000 jobs mostly for youth and women. This can also be done here in Kenya," Hon Tuya said.
The Cabinet Secretary said her Ministry had prioritized wetlands restoration as part of the Government's flagship project of expanding Kenya's tree cover from the current 12.3 to 30 percent by the year 2032 by growing 15 billion trees over the decade.
"So, this strategy that the State Department for Environment and Climate Change has taken, will satisfy amongst others, the dual role of meeting the 15 billion national tree growing and restoration target but also help the country in combating climate change," she said.
At the meeting convened by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Hon Tuya also spoke about her Ministry's priority areas of ecosystem restoration through the 15 billion tree growing programme, circular economy and climate action.
She said her Ministry was in the process of amending the Climate Change Act to "deliver a carbon markets framework that is transparent and has integrity" because of the market's great potential to finance Kenya's climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.
In line with last year's Sustainable Waste Management Act, Hon Tuya said her Ministry was working on developing a vibrant circular economy that will transform the over 8 million metric tonnes of waste Kenya generates annually into raw material for industrial production.
She called for an all-society approach in the roll out of the 15 billion tree growing programme, and challenged counties to emulate national government institutions and private sector by adopting degraded forests and virgin acreage in their jurisdictions for reafforestation and afforestation.
"As county governments, your governors at the last summit in Naivasha committed to allocating 20% of FLOCCA funds to the 15 billion national tree growing programme. As officers in charge of the sector, please use your good offices to ensure that these commitments are realised," the CS told the CECM's.
Hon Tuya said that as Cabinet Secretary she was determined to ensure that collaboration between her Ministry and Counties in environmental conservation was strengthened, and thanked NEMA for organizing the inaugural two-day inter-governmental meeting on environmental conservation.
"As Cabinet Secretary, I acknowledge the work that Counties do in environment, climate change and forestry, and it is for this reason that I will seek to strengthen the partnership between the Ministry and county governments in the life of my administration. This meeting is one such, and many more will follow.
"Our coming together as national and county governments is important for the environment function. These meetings and conferences should not be ad hoc. They should be part of the policy implementation continuum to help deliver the country’s environment mandate and promise," the CS said.
At the same time, Hon Tuya directed the State Department of Environment and Climate Change to fast-track the enactment of an inter-governmental coordination framework to ensure proper coordination of the environment function between the Ministry and Counties.
Further, the Cabinet Secretary directed NEMA, working with Counties, to ensure the gazettement and operationalization of all county environment committees as well as appointment of more county-based environment inspectors.
Other speakers on the first day of the two-day meeting were Principal Secretary for Environment and Climate Change Eng Festus Ng'eno who presented the wetlands restoration strategy, and the Director General of NEMA Mr Mamo B Mamo.
TONIQO, HORRI GUDHA WETLANDS LAUNCHED
The Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Soipan Tuya commissioned the Toniqo and Horri ghudha wetlandsnon July 6, 2023.
The two wetlands are located in North Horr, Marsabit County and have been rehabilitated by NEMA through fencing and tree planting to allow them to regenerated.