Deforestation in Kenya has been a concern for many in recent years. As a country, Kenya depends on rain fed agriculture to feed its citizens, therefore, forests are indispensable.
Deforestation in Kenya has been a concern for many in recent years. As a country, Kenya depends on rain fed agriculture to feed its citizens, therefore, forests are indispensable. However, various factors have contributed to deforestation especially in the main water towers of Kenya including the Mau forest Mt. Kenya, Kakamega and the Elgeyo /Marakwet forests of Embobut and Kaptagat.
The North Rift part of Kenya was once known to be an agriculturally rich region. It had major rivers including River Kerio, Kessup river, Embobut river and Sosiani. Over the last 10 years, these rivers have been experiencing a drop in water volumes due to upstream erosion due to deforestation and cultivation along riverbanks deforestation of Kaptagat and embobut forests have caused an exposure of the catchment areas leading to their drying up.
Lake Kapnarok, the only ox-bow lake in the county is slowly drying due to lack of water from the two main sources, River Kerio and River Kessup. Due to erosion, siltation has led to the lake becoming shallow. Whenever heavy rains occur, the Kerio valley floor is flooded leading to displacement of population and destruction of farms and vegetation.
Once thought to be the home of the second largest crocodile population, Lake Kapnarok is now a shell of its former self. Torok falls, one of the main tourist attractions has become seasonal. The Cheploch gouge which is one of the major tourist attraction sites in the valley no longer experiences the same volumes of water that it used to. Its depth is approximately 15 metres, water used to fill up and overflow but these days; it is a wonder if it even fills half of it.
The county used to experience very high precipitation but for the past 10 years, there has been a decline in the amount of rain that falls. With the seasonality of Lake Kapnarok, it has meant that the microclimate that the water body created around the location is now gone. The rains are no longer predictable; farmers plant their crop but pray to God to give them rain.
We live in the 21st century where managerial techniques have been mastered; these techniques should have been put into use in order to safeguard our water catchment area, forests being one of the major contributors to safeguarding the same.
In the county, government officials, specifically the department of forestry collude with unscrupulous businessmen and politicians to rob the people of one of the most important resource. Forest guards no longer live up to their name, instead, they collude to destroy the same resource that they are supposed to guard. Who then will be responsible for guarding and preserving the catchment areas in Elgeyo/Marakwet County because the situation is dire and in need of urgent measures.
In the 1970s, Elgeyo/Marakwet had 33996 Hectares of forested land. These forests was made up of mainly indigenous hard wood, in the 1990s, the county saw a rapid increase in deforestation dues to population explosion, poverty and corruption.
People are fast to blame poverty or population growth, but what about the management of forest. Does it mean that the county has no administration apparatus catering for the welfare of the forests? The answer is definitely no.
it is high time the authorities took up this issue seriously in order to prevent an environmental catastrophe. Landslides occur when rain fall, floods sweep people and livelihoods, all these because of the exposure of the earth.
Poverty in the region is also wanting; there is need for alternate income generating activities such as bee keeping, poultry raring and also irrigation. These activities require funds and also are labour intensive. It will keep the youth busy and prevent them from venturing into the forest to cut trees.
As we gear towards electing a county government, the citizens of this county need to scrutinize the candidates thoroughly to ensure that the elected officials will bring real change in the county and most importantly, guard the bio diversity.