The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has urged the government to integrate community elders and traditional cultural practices in its efforts to conserve and protect water sources.
Speaking in Igembe South sub-County in Meru during the World Water Day, Mithika Mwenda the executive director of PACJA said elders have sustainably managed to protect the natural resources current generation enjoy.
World Water Day is annually marked on 22 March and focuses attention on the importance of water. This year’s theme ‘groundwater’, draws attention to the hidden water resource that has always been critically important but not fully recognized in sustainable development policymaking.
Under the title ‘Groundwater – Making the invisible visible’, this year’s campaign aimed to explain groundwater’s vital role in water and sanitation systems, agriculture, industry, ecosystems and climate change adaptation.
The overarching message of the campaign is that exploring, protecting and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population.
Represented by James Kanyi, Programme Manager of Tijiunue Tena Programme of the PACJA, Mr Mithika however noted that such resources as water sources have come under pressure from human activities which are also driving climate change.
According to Samuel Kanyi, 66 elders’ groups such as the Meru’s Njuri Nceke used various ways to protect and conserve forests.
“They would set aside a forest and put safeguards against exploitation,” he said adding that even the Njuri elders themselves are not allowed to cut a tree. “In the event that charcoal or firewood is needed to burn sacrifices, the elders would buy fuelwood or charcoal instead.
Kanyi said the elders knew that trees and forests were sources of water and never allowed intrusion into the forests.
Mithika noted that from a climate change perspective, probably the usefulness of underground water across all the sectors of the economy is increasingly apparent due to the growing Loss and Damage witnessed across.
“Wetlands are disappearing, lakes shrinking pretty faster and water streams drying faster than normal due to extraction activities motivate by the need for adapting our production systems,” he said.
PACJA had mobilised Igembe South residents to plant trees around Njuri Nceke Shrines in bid to protect underground aquifers.