Leaders against sand trade to save key river

River. [File, Standard]
Leaders from three counties have declared war against sand harvesting to save River Ewaso Nyiro from drying up.

The river is a source of livelihood for residents of Isiolo, Samburu and Laikipia.

Yesterday, leaders said they would come up with strategies to ensure the river that many residents in the entire northern Kenya depend on does not dry up.

Isiolo Deputy Governor Abdi Issa said the three counties were contemplating a total ban on sand harvesting along the river.

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"Sand harvesting is the greatest threat to the river as it causes it to dry up at times," said Issa who spoke at Archers Post.

He said those living downstream were the most affected. “Those in Merti, Garissa, and Wajir suffer the most when the river dries up. This has also led to conflicts among local communities who fight over the limited water resources,“ said Issa

This came after a five-day campaign dubbed 'Ewaso Nyiro Camel Peace Caravan', where over 100 pastoralists walked 240 kilometres to create awareness on the need to conserve it.

Issa's sentiments were echoed by his Samburu counterpart Julius Leseeto who noted that since pastoralists in the three counties face similar challenges, the governments should forge a united front in solving them.

The yearly Camel Caravan Campaign is aimed at creating awareness on the need to conserve water resources.

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Participants are drawn from Rendille, Maasai, Samburu, Borana and Somali communities.

The trek started on Friday last week. One group was flagged off at Ewaso village in Laikipia County. Another group started the trek on Saturday from the other end of the river at Malkadaka in Isiolo County.

Water level in River Ewaso Nyiro has been declining over the years. The river is fed by about 40 streams from Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests.

Pastoralists from the three counties have in the past clashed over shortage of water and pasture.  

countiesdrivesave drying river