Narok County Commissioner Evans Achoki planting trees during 9th Mara Day Celebrations, hosted by the Republic of Kenya, 15th September 2020
Papers presented on 14th September 2020 as an integral part of 9th Mara Day Celebrations, highlighted recommendations to inform policies and practices in Mara River Basin for Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania.
The paper titled ‘Sustainable utilization of the Mara Basin’ from Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) recommended to different actors in Mara River Basin to prioritize stakeholders engagement as one of the strategies for sustainability in Mara region. Such endeavor, according to Polycarp Ngoje, the Stakeholders Engagement Specialist, SWP, should reduce or substitute top-down, one size fits all approach from state and non-state actors. Placing more responsibilities and resources in the hands of the Water Resources User Associations (WRUAS) in Kenya and Water User Associations (WUAs) of Tanzania would not only create awareness of but enhance ownership.
According to Polycarp Ngoje, the foregoing actors in Mara River Basin are key stakeholders in community engagement, catchment conservation interventions, and prevention of water security risks in Mara River Basin.
One paper from WWF observed that whereas the Mara River is globally iconic and regionally priceless, its freshwater biodiversity is under immense pressure because of human-related activities.
The paper titled ‘Freshwater Biodiversity in Mara River Basin—Kenya and Tanzania,’ argued that to save over 469 native freshwater species in Mara River from potential extinction, actors should act now it exhorted.
Citing conservation status Report of IUCN, Dr. William Ojwang, grouped freshwater species as ‘critically endangered,’ ‘endangered,’ and ‘vulnerable.’ For instance, 3% singidia tilapia, Victoria tilapia, Killifish, grey-crowned crane are categorized as endangered, while hippopotamus, the crab potamomonautes gerdalensis and bivalve are vulnerable. In his view, Mara is a hotspot, thus, he recommended close monitoring of freshwater species, reducing water pollution, and protect/restore critical freshwater habitats like Mau and Mara wetlands. According to Narok County Governor, Dr. Hilary Barchok, interventions in Mau forests have positively impacted water levels. Bomet County rolled out a tree planting campaign with the view of raising forest cover to more than 12%.
A paper with the title: ‘Zonation of Mara Ecosystem for Planning Resilient Use of Land Resources and Climate Smart Agriculture,’ by Edward Muya, established increasing depletion of trans-boundary water supplies and its potential to cause social unrest and spar conflicts within and between countries. Muya’s findings further revealed increasing conversion of cropland into commercial quarrying purposes hence promoting soil erosion.
At least 95.8% of the respondents for the above study confirmed that conversion of cropland affects soil productivity. To forestall the foregoing, the author recommended resilient use of land resources through systematic land resource inventory and monitoring by applying emerging technologies.
Making papers presentation an integral part of Mara Celebrations was conceived during the preparations of the 8th Mara Day in Mugumu, United Republic of Tanzania and scores of papers were subsequently presented on 14th September 2019. Evidence-based paper presentations formed part of the 9th Mara Day and the conference was held virtually and it was hosted by H.E, Governor of Bomet, Dr. Hillary Barchok.
“The recommendations from these papers shall serve two crucial purposes — first, to inform policies and secondly for programming towards conservation in the trans-boundary Mara River Ecosystem,” remarked LVBC Executive Secretary, Dr. Ally Said Matano. According to LVBC, evidence-based paper presentation is emerging as a new frontier for promoting a win-win partnership between three mutually linked partners in the development process—the academia, policy-makers and practitioners.
The foregoing is in line with LVBC mandate of promoting, coordinating and facilitating state and non-state actors towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development in Lake Victoria Basin. LVBC is coordinating countries—United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya and counties as well as other partners on how to operationalize recommendations from 8th Mara Day Celebrations held in Mugumu, Tanzania. Papers presented in 2020 were aligned to the theme of 9th Mara Day Celebration: “Conserved Mara Ecosystem [which is] Our Shared Prosperity.”