Stakeholders and communities livening in the two Partner States of the East African Community –Republic of Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania were urged to work collaboratively toward sustainable conservation and management of the Mara ecosystem.
These were the collective remarks by the delegation and environmental experts who attended the just concluded 11th Mara day celebrations held in Olenguruoni Technical Vocational College, Molo Sub-county, Nakuru County in Kenya on 15th September, 2022.
On his part, Principal Secretary, State Department for East African Community Dr. Kevit Desai urged all stakeholders to reflect on the 11th Mara Day celebration’s theme; ‘Towards a sustainable Mara River ecosystem’, and sustain individual and collective efforts towards the conservation of Mara ecosystem.
“We must make vivid decisions of how we are going to work together to promote conservation community and the ability to promote commerce to include services industry as well as the ability to promote trade within the Mara basin,” PS Kevit stated.
His sentiments were echoed by the LVBC Executive Secretary Dr. Masinde Bwire who underscored some of the achievements of the Mara day celebrations since its inauguration, including increased awareness among local communities on the importance of conservation of Mara River, implementation of actions through projects and programs to offset degradation and deforestation and nature based and climate resilient community livelihood interventions.
Dr. Bwire further urged the need for the two partner states; Kenya and Tanzania to do more and continue supporting the regional event in strengthening management approaches and initiatives for Mara River basin that are more inclusive from grassroots levels to national levels.
He further stated the need to initiate conservation benefits sharing within local communities, private and public sectors to furth drive the conservation agenda.
“We have learned that private sector players gain more from the conserved Mara River ecosystem, their gains in terms of generated revenues are yet to correspond with paying back to sustain the ecosystem’s lifeline,” Bwire said.
“Moving forward, LVBC is prioritizing mobilization of resources from private sector actors as a strategic long-term approach of sharing benefits’’ he added.
The Mara River ecosystem contributes 15% to the economy of both Kenya and Tanzania through tourism in Serengeti and Maasai Mara parks. It also serves communities living around the basin and the livelihoods.
The Mara River ecosystem is still marred by challenges majorly population increase which further leads excessive human activities.
The Mara Day Celebrations are held on a rotational basis between Kenya and Tanzania and this was the 6th time Kenya was hosting the regional event having been inaugurated in 2012. The 11th Mara Day Celebrations aimed at creating the shift from awareness to ownership by the private sector and civil society actors and creating a need for a forum of state and non-state actors to drive forward the mara ecosystem management.
Before the celebrations, the LVBC convened over 8 regional meetings bringing together delegates from the two countries. Other preparatory activities included, but not limited to clean-up, media briefing and tree planting. On 15th September, 2022, conservation champions and school-going children with commendable conservation stories in form of poems and plays were rewarded. Some exhibitors of good conservation practices in Mara River Basin selected from the two countries were also recognized.
Tanzanian head of delegation, Mara Regional Commissioner Suleiman Mzee commended LVBC for organizing Mara Day Celebrations, noting events and activities associated with celebrations have significantly contributed to heightened awareness of the dangers facing the Mara River Basin.
Environment Chief Officer, Kiogora Mureithi from Nakuru County (the host) urged for commitment of resources ensure continuity of Mara River Basin conservation efforts. He also emphasized Nakuru’s importance in managing Mara River ecosystem by conserving Mau forest which acts as the source of River Mara.
Relatedly, on 13th September, 2022, the LVBC Executive Secretary had underscored the relationships between sustainable management of river systems, including Mara River with improvement of water quality and availability in Lake Victoria Basin. He made reference to synergetic efforts between Mara Day Celebrations and activities of Integrated Water Resources Management Programme funded by Federal Germany Government, KfW and European Union.