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Deliberate planning should save our water towers, livelihoods

By Editorial | Aug 8th 2020 | 2 min read

Kenya’s all-important and life giving water towers are in real danger from perennial assault. This has put untold pressure on the precious natural resources. The Mau Forest Complex, for instance, has become a hotbed of not only bloody conflicts but also high octane politics.

Every year, reports of clashes in the diminishing complex have been the norm and this can be traced back to the original sin of thoughtless and wanton destruction of all Kenya’s water towers.

Thousands of acres have been hived off most water towers and undoing the damage is proving a headache, even to the same government that stood watch as the atrocities against the environment were committed. 

It seems many Kenyans and the Government are yet to fully appreciate the role of water towers and forests in the ecosystem. Delayed rains or destructive floods are yet to make Kenyans understand that nature is giving back what it has received from the human population.

Appreciating the role of these towers as sources of water, windbreaks, air filters and temperature regulators has not sunk in to the minds of Kenyans.

On the same note, politicians – by default or by design – have also added to the destructive nature with their demagoguery. To them scoring political points is more preferable to ensuring the safety of future generations.

To salvage the situation, public education should be initiated regularly while devolved units must take seriously the natural resources within their jurisdictions. But perhaps one area where government has failed is in physical planning.

While planners argue that the future lies in urbanisation, this is not being matched by development of well-planned urban areas which could take in more people and thus ease pressure on natural resources.

As population grows, there will be need for more space for settlement, and people look at forests among other areas.

This said, Kenya has lots of land not under any use especially the drier areas which if well-developed could attract a significant population.

Saving natural resources does not take hammer and tongs but deliberate planning and execution of those plans. The late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai once said: “Nature is tolerant but very unforgiving.”  

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