The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, through Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) has begun piloting ecosystem restoration initiatives in Siaya and Busia counties to help people living in Lake Victoria basin adapt to climate change.
The initiatives which include tree planting, conservation agriculture and micro-irrigation are aimed at increasing community resilience towards climate change which has resulted to the dwindling bio-diversity.
Speaking during the launch of the pilot phase of the project, at Nyakongo Technical Training Institute in Rarieda Sub-county, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Environment, Mohammed Elmi, said the project has been funded by the UN Adaptation Fund through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) to a tune of US$5 million.
Elmi who was flanked by LVBC Executive Secretary, Ali Said Matano, disclosed that similar initiative has been launched for piloting in four other East African countries, namely Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
He said that Siaya County has been chosen because of the low forest cover which currently stands at 0.4 percent making it the lowest in the Country.
“We have to focus more on Siaya because of the low forest cover which is unacceptable. The low cover has resulted to perennial flooding and dwindling bio-diversity that’s why Siaya was chosen,” Elmi said.
The CAS disclosed that Siaya County requires about 50 million seedlings to achieve the required 10 per cent forest cover and appealed to all the stakeholders to play their part instead of waiting for the government to increase forest cover.
“The 10 per cent is actually in law and both private individual lands, public spaces and water towers should ensure that 10 per cent of their land is under forest cover. Each one of us should do their part to contribute to the needed forest cover,” he said.
LVBC Executive Secretary said that the ecosystem restoration projects is a regional project and will be piloted in two counties in each of the five east African countries.
Matano further revealed that LVBC is targeting US $ 40 million in funding from the UN adaptation, to fund once they have successfully piloted the projects and asked the local community to embrace the initiatives to restore the environment.
“We have US$. 5 million funding for the pilot to be shared among the five countries and if we are successful we are targeting US$ 40 million to boost environmental activities in the region to help the communities adapt to climate change,” said Matano.
Siaya County CEC for Environment, Charles Ogada, who represented the Deputy Governor, Dr. James Okumbe, at the occasion revealed that the County is on course to increase its forest cover.
Ogada said that the County Government has moved to gazette hill tops which were under threat of deforestation for purposes of conserving the forests.
He further revealed that the County Government has a program to plant more than 200 thousand tree seedling each rainy season to improve forest cover, and called upon both private and commercial entities to support the initiative.
Three community groups in Siaya County, including Dala Rieko and Kanyibok have been chosen to pilot the project by LVBC and will be involved in soil conservation activities, promotion of use of renewable energy such as solar and empowering of groups through bee keeping and cage fish farming.