Kenya joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Wetlands Day at Ondiri Swamp in Kikuyu town Kiambu County on 2nd February 2022 today.
The theme for this year's event was," Wetlands Action for People and Nature." This was a clarion call for the world to put resources into the management of wetlands. The theme also shines a spotlight on wetlands as an integral part to the wellbeing of humans and the environment. It is meant to highlight the contribution of human actions in saving wetland ecosystems globally as well as the importance of wetland goods and services to humans and nature.
The choice of Ondiri Swamp was informed by the importance of the wetland to the economy of the country. For instance, the Ondiri Swamp forms the headwaters for the Nairobi River which forms the Athi drainage system. Despite its importance, the wetland is under pressure due to increased human activities such water extraction, deforestation and accelerated erosion.
The Chief Guest during the event was Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Mohammed Elmi who represented the CS Keriako Tobiko. Governor Kiambu County, Dr. James Nyoro also graced the event.
CAS Mohammed Elmi urged politicians vying for various positions to have environment management plans for their areas to the ensure environment just like other sectors is given priority. He noted that the Government is working on environmental management frameworks to facilitate conservation of wetlands in the country.
The Governor Kiambu County, Dr. James Nyoro urged the locals to balance between environment and economic developments. He reiterated the importance of hosting the event in his County. He noted that the County has been working with the Friends of Ondiri to bring on board the communities to embrace the conservation efforts of the wetland. He added that the County has set aside resources to improve the status of the wetland to be a tourist attraction.
NEMA Chairman John Konchellah stated that the Authority has undertaken inventory, monitoring and assessment of wetlands to establish their occurrence and their health status. This includes development of site specific management plans to a number of wetlands in the country. The management plans have informed decisions for conservation and management of the wetlands. The Authority has also been enforcing Water Quality Regulations of 2006 to stop effluent discharges into wetlands.
NEMA Director General, Mamo B. Mamo noted that as part of NEMA’s wetlands conservation actions for people and nature we have the following among other activities; developed Integrated Management Plans for various wetlands country- Ondiri swamp management plan is almost finalized, developed and implemented Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM 2019-2023) Action Plan, delineated a conservation area through ground truthing and stakeholder consultation meeting, created awareness on need for conservation and management of the land within wetlands, riparian areas and their catchments , Restored and rehabilitated degraded wetlands, continuous 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. The Authority has also been involved in the Nairobi river regeneration program.
The Authority also launched an Eco-toilet at the Wetland on a land donated by a local. The facility will be used by the tourists visiting the wetland under the management of the Friends of Ondiri. The guests also planted trees especially Bamboos at the wetland to enhance the conservation efforts.
By S. Irungu
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands.
World Wetlands Day 2022 will be celebrated as follows;
Theme: Wetlands Action for People and Nature
A call to take action for wetlands is the focus of this years’ campaign. It's an appeal to invest financial, human and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded.
Slogan: Our Wetlands, Our Responsibility, Our Future
Date: 2nd February 2022
Venue: Ondiri Swamp, Kiambu County
About Ondiri Swamp
Ondiri wetland is the only swamp with bog-like characteristics Kenya. It covers an area of approximately 30 ha, is 2 to 3 metres deep with a perimeter of about 3.3 km. The swamp adjacent to Kikuyu town within Kiambu County. Currently, the swamp is fenced hence encroachment and over harvesting of grass and reeds has been controlled.
Friends of Ondiri wetland, a local CBO has been championing protection of the swamp through advocacy and awareness creation to the community members. The swamp has no legal protection leading to uncoordinated conservation initiatives by different actors.
Two years ago, the group reached out to NEMA to take lead in protecting the swamp by bringing together all the stakeholders. Since then, NEMA has held several meetings with relevant agencies both government and private sector. I addition, the authority has undertaken multiple inspections of facilities around the riparian as well as kikuyu town. Recently, NEMA-Wetlands department in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, initiated development of Ondiri swamp management plan which will enhance coordination and harmonization of various stakeholders engaged in conservation efforts around and within the swamp.
Some of the proposed investments include bird watching, nature walks, zipliners as well as an amphitheater. In this regard, NEMA through the economic stimulus program funds is constructing and Eco toilet block as a means of controlling effluence discharge into the swamp ones the facilities are open to the public.
- The wetland is a protected area that forms the headwaters of Nairobi River within the Athi drainage basin and located in Kikuyu, Kiambu County.
- Its oval in shape
- Has an estimated area of 0.468km2?
- Has a floating peatbog
- Currently under pressure because of water extraction, deforestation and accelerated erosion.