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Government suspends timber harvesting as water shortage bites

By Hillary Orinde | Published Sat, February 24th 2018 at 13:35, Updated February 24th 2018 at 13:51 GMT +3
The rivers originating from forests are afflicted by vagaries of weather and illegal logging activities [File, Standard]

The Government has temporarily suspended timber harvesting for 90 days in all forests over the acute water shortage witnessed across the country.

During the 90-day moratorium, the state plans to review and rationalise the entire forest sector in Kenya and propose mitigations to curb the dry taps.

“Deforestation, degradation and encroachment of water towers and other catchment areas coupled with uncontrolled human activities including wanton logging have threatened and undermined our country’s capability to ensure food security. This situation poses a threat to the achievement of the big four agenda items of the Jubilee Government,” Deputy President Ruto said in a statement.

The forests have been afflicted by vagaries of weather and illegal logging activities, climate change, pollution, human encroachment and diversion of water sources for agricultural use. 

Ruto further directed the Keriako Tobiko-led Ministry of Environment and Forestry to form a task force which will give a detailed report on the remedial measures adopted within 14 days.

Major Kenyan rivers Tana and Ewaso Nyiro who are the main source of water for the arid north have been drying up.

A situation also witnessed in Rivers Yala, Narumoru, Thegu, Likii, Burguret, Sagana, Gura,Ragati and those that flow from the slopes of Mount Elgon and Chereng’any hills.

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Reports abound of residents bearing the brunt of long distance journeys in search of the elusive water which has exposed many to water-borne diseases as the scarcity bites.

Environment experts have warned that if urgent measures are not put in place, the situation will snowball into a crisis.

Recently, humanitarian agency Kenya Red Cross began an intensive campaign to pool funds for the 3.4 million Kenyans who were facing drought.

"We need to respond before things become worse than they are. We should never allow any Kenyan to get to the tipping point," Secretary General Abbas Gullet said.

The agency identified 10 counties; Mandera, Marsabit, Kitui and Taita Taveta, Garissa, Wajir, Isiolo, Tana River, Kajiado and Kilifi who are in the drought alarm phase.

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