Wetlands threatened by illegal encroachments
The ongoing illegal encroachment and destruction of natural vegetation has been cited as the major threats to the existence of wetlands across the country.
According to the National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC), these threats could in future cause an acute water shortage in the country.
The Committee National Secretary, Dr. John Chumo observed that the wetlands played a crucial role in the ecosystem by acting as a habitat for some aquatic animals and also purifies the water by removing sediments and other contaminations.
He added that the wetlands prevent flooding and protects the soil that provides a unique breeding ground for vegetation that feeds marine lives.
Speaking in Naivasha, Chumo said the challenges of conserving wetlands requires comprehensive policies that will provide a basis for action and a framework for international and national cooperation, and called for the fast-tracking of formulation of the National Wetlands Conservation and Management Policy that will help in the conservation of the wetlands.
He at the same time called for sound and scientific management of wetlands throughout the country that will ensure development and implementation of a sound wetlands management strategy.
“There is need for wetland inventory assessment and declaration of the wetlands as protected ecosystems especially that rich in biodiversity,” he said.
The official identified wetlands facing threat as Lake Olbolossat in Nyandarua county which he said is facing deforestation and degradation of its catchment area.
He added that other wetlands were affected by pollution, included Thange River with an oil spillage and clearing of riparian vegetation at the Ngong River which he said paved way for illegal constructions at Njiru in Nairobi.
The committee also cited massive degradation of Yala Swamp allegedly occasioned by the activities of Dominion farm and also over-abstraction of water and sand harvesting at River Thuci in Embu County.
The Committee Legal Officer, Carolyne Khasoa challenged Nakuru County government to move fast and address the issue of pollution in Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru to help contain degradation and destructions going on around the water bodies.
The officer further said NECC as an advocacy body was ready to partner and work with other government agencies to help save and conserve the country’s wetlands.
By Esther Mwangi