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Cry beloved country, our rivers are dying

By Isaac Kalua | January 29th 2017 at 10:00:00 GMT +0300

A section of River Thiba in Machang’a area of Embu County which has dried up downstream, affecting thousands of residents of the semi-arid in Mbeere region (Photo: Joseh Muhiri/Standard)

Sixteen years ago on April 18, 2001, Arap Choge, the Assistant minister in the Office of the Vice President said something relevant today as it was back then. While contributing to a motion, he said, ‘The destruction of forests in this country is very alarming.

The excision of forests will never solve land problems in this country. We must learn how to live with the forests instead of cutting them down in order to live. A lot of forests have been destroyed, especially along River Nzoia and along the Cherengany Hills. Sooner than later, you will have River Nzoia drying up. There is a lot of destruction of forests along River Yala in Nandi District.’

I widely quote Choge to illustrate two points. Firstly, for decades we have been thriving under the unfeasible deforestation economy under the vibrant watch of relevant protective institutions. What a shame! Secondly, Parliament has an endless duty to debate and pass brave, innovative legislation that must deal decisively with unsustainable practices while supporting livelihoods for posterity.

Although rivers Nzoia and Yala are still flowing, there are other rivers across Kenya that have gone dry. In Kisumu County, a hitherto powerful river like Nyando is shrinking at an alarming rate.

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Clearly, these rivers are not drying up as an act of God, No! We are the reason. Period! As chairman of the Kenya Water Towers Agency, I can unmistakably say that rivers are drying up because the water towers that serve as their catchment areas have been under onslaught for decades.

Unless we deliberately punish notorious perpetrators and replace them with passionate green combatants, more rivers will dry up even faster.

Our carefree attitude and greed is largely responsible for the dry rivers that we are currently experiencing. I therefore suggest that everyone takes the necessary action in conserving our forests. Great forests mean more water. The lack of water leads to unfathomable economic consequences.

Three years ago in December 2014, the New York Times featured a comprehensive article entitled, ‘Mt Kenya’s vanishing glaciers.’ Five years earlier in November 2009, the LA Times in California had featured another related story entitled, ‘Glorious vision in Kenya’s sky melts away.’ Such headlines may make for interesting reading for the international audience but for us in Africa, they are a matter of life and death.

We may not reverse the melting glaciers of our highest mountain but we can decisively resolve to reconstruct our ecological infrastructure. We may never increase our forest cover by ten fold but we can strategically stop deforestation by managing our greed.

A nation can only be as successful as its citizenry’s commitment in conserving the environment. Are you there? Stand and be counted. On your part Mr President, kindly operationalise the Climate Change Act.

Think Green, Act Green!

deforestation drought Climate Change Act
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