The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Mr Keriako Tobiko has officially launched the ten million tree initiative in Maasai Mau Water Tower. This is part of the restoration plan of the most degraded Water Tower among the 22 blocks of the Mau Forest Complex. The rehabilitation initiative is being undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, all the semi-autonomous state agencies within it as well as the ministries of Interior and Coordination of National Government and Public Service, Youth and Gender.
The Kenya Water Towers Agency together with several other agencies and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry managed to recover 4,500 hectares in Phase I and 17,101 in Phase II operations that have seen settlers voluntarily move out of the Water Tower. At the time of the launch, the CS for Environment and Forestry Mr Tobiko confirmed that 96% of the illegal settlers had already moved out and the remaining 4% were preparing to vacate the Water Tower.
During the launch, millions of seedlings were poured on 3,500 hectares using aircrafts by Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and a total of 300,000 seedlings planted. To ensure sustainability, each agency adopted a block of the Water Tower. Kenya Forest Service (KFS) adopted 500 hectares, Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MEF) 300 hectares, Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) 200 hectares, Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority (ENSDA) 121 hectares and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) 100 hectares. Others that contributed seedlings through KWTA are National Environment Trust Fund (NETFund) 50,000 seedlings and National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) 10,000 seedlings.
To ensure that the Water Tower is well protected from future encroachments, the Survey of Kenya is conducting boundary re-alignment that will solve the issue of boundary dispute. Thereafter, Kenya Water Towers Agency will put up an electric fence from Sierra Leone to Nkareta, a distance of 50 Kilometres. The environmental and social impact assessment is currently ongoing. The exercise will be completed by the end of November 2019 and will determined how the fencing will be undertaken.
The Mara-Serengeti transboundary ecosystem relies heavily on the Mara River whose origin is the Mau Forest Complex, with the largest tributary, being the Amalo River that originates from Maasai Mau Water Tower. The ecosystem supports wildebeest migration, a renowned tourist attraction phenomenon classified under UNESCO as a world heritage site and the eighth Wonder of the World.
The entire Mau Complex Water Tower is a major catchment for 12 major rivers namely: Sondu, Mara, Nyando, Yala, Ewaso-Ng’iro, Molo, Njoro, Nderit, Makalia, Naishi, Mumberes and Nzoia. The rivers feed three lakes in Kenya: Turkana, Baringo and Nakuru as well as two trans-boundary lakes; Natron and Victoria.
The Mau Forest Complex spreads across Baringo, Bomet, Kericho, Nakuru, Narok and Uasin Gichu counties. It comprises twenty-two blocks namely Eastern Mau, Western Mau, Transmara, South West Mau, Maasai Mau, Tinderet, Mau Narok, Molo, Eburu, Ol Pusimoru, West Molo, Southern Mau, Londiani, Mt Loldiani, Kilombe Hill, Maji Mazuri, Timboroa, Lembus, Nabkoi, Metkei, Chemorogok and Northern Tinderet. The most threatened Water Tower has been the Maasai Mau which is not a gazetted forest but is registered as a Trust Land under the Narok County Government.