Researchers, scientists, experts, senior government officials and relevant stakeholders from the two East African Partner States, the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania have jointly agreed on a range shared action that would help to conserve the Mara Serengeti Ecosystem that continue to be threatened by degradation occasioned by several factors.
During the 12th Mara Day Celebrations held from 12th to 15th September 2023 in Mugumu town, Serengeti District in the United Republic of Tanzania, Conservation experts called upon the two neighboring EAC Partner States to seek partnerships for the application of Artificial Intelligence, Earth Observation, and other innovative technologies in management of this shared ecosystem.
Under the coordination of LVBC Secretariat, the experts agreed on 12 resolutions that included the strengthening of the institutional framework for cooperative management of the transboundary Masai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem between the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The experts also called for promotion and investment in climate- smart agriculture, Nature-based Solutions (Nbs), Ecosystem- based Adaptation (EbA) and renewable energy to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on the riparian communities on the Mara- Serengeti ecosystem as part of the African Climate Adaptation Programme agreed upon at the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi in September 2023.
They also sought for partnership and application of artificial Intelligence, Earth Observation, and other innovative technologies to support knowledge generation and ecosystem monitoring for decision support and sustainable management of the shared ecosystem.
The experts also recommended the strengthening of the institutional framework for cooperative management of the transboundary Masai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem by among others reinvigorating institutional structures, forums and instruments envisaged in the cooperative MOU such as the Transboundary Mara River Water Resources Users Forum, the Joint Technical and Coordination Committees, and Mara River Basin Stakeholders Forum.
Dr George Lugomela who is the director of Water Resources in the Ministry of Water in the United Republic of Tanzania and Andrew Mware Kinyua who is the Director of Natural Water Resources, Ministry of water, sanitation and irrigation in the Republic of Kenya signed the resolutions on behalf of their respective countries as a way of adopting them for implementation over the next 12 months.
The annual event was jointly organized by LVBC, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Kenya in Mugumu town, Tanzania, under the theme
“Conserving Mara River for Biodiversity and Sustainable Economy“.
Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Water Eng. Mary Prisca Mahundi who was the Chief Guest reiterated their commitment in conserving the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem. Eng Mahundi said, “I want to assure stakeholders from both countries that conserving Mara Ecosystem is a priority to us considering its importance in generating revenue”.
Mara Regional commissioner Hon Said Mtanda said, “The Mara River contributes a huge percentage of revenue through tourism and therefore we have initiated efforts to ensure that it is conserved well”.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Community Affairs from Republic of Uganda Madam Edith Mwanje who was the chief guest in the 12th Mara Day Scientific Conference said that Mara Day celebration was a testament to power of regional cooperation and diplomacy.
The PS said, “Being here is a clear indication that as sister EAC states we not only promote integration but also give way to attracting sustainable investments”.
Deputy Director Regional Integration in the ministry of East African affairs Mr. Julius Mwabu who led the Kenyan delegation and read a speech on behalf of the Principal Secretary Abdi Dubat said the Kenyan government was working with both state and non-state actors within the Mau complex to grow trees and restore degraded forest cover in the catchment area.
LVBC Executive Secretary Dr Masinde Bwire reiterated the importance of the Mara River between the two EAC partner states. Dr Bwire said, “LVBC will lead concerted efforts to address challenges affecting the Mara River Basin by reaching out to more partners to work together and enhance conservation and management strategies, strengthen Law enforcement and engage local communities in sustainable practices”.
Mara Day celebrations are a testament to the strong collaboration between the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania.
This annual event, held on a rotational basis between these two East African countries, has its roots in the 10th Sectoral Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin meeting in 2012, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda. The meeting declared that every September 15th is Mara Day, marking the official commitment to conserving and awareness creation.
Since the Kigali declaration, Mara Day celebrations have continued to achieve their guiding objectives in creating awareness among key stakeholders on the importance of the Mara River basin and its resources, recognize and involve contributions from various sectors in its management, and promote partnerships for the sustainable use of Mara’s water and biodiversity.