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NEMA begins a five-year plan to restore Ondiri wetland

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has begun a five years’ strategic plan for conservation of Ondiri Wetland from further destruction and encroachment.

The Ondiri Wetland Integrated Management Plan 2022-2027 will be implemented at a cost of Sh914 million with the intention of attaining international status to ensure it benefits from donor funds among the other six recognized sites in Kenya.

According to NEMA Director General Mamo Boru Mamo who launched the strategic plan during this year’ international wetlands day, wetlands have been lost in the country due to human encroachment, adding that reclamation is ongoing.

“We have come up with integrated management plans for a number of these wetlands in our country. We have developed a management plan also for Ondiri Swamp and it is now at the stakeholders’ validation stage,” he said.

“Thereafter we are looking at the possibility of gazzetting the swamp to ensure that it is properly managed,” he added.

Ondiri Swamp is located in Kikuyu, Kiambu County and is said to be the second deepest wetland in Africa after the one located in Douala, Cameroon.

The swamp is under pressure because of water extraction, deforestation and accelerated erosion. “We have a big challenge in the management of our wetlands in our country due to human encroachment,” Mamo noted.

Conservationists have warned that wetlands are being lost three times more compared to forests, highlighting the need to focus more on this life supportive system.

Wetlands provide essential ecosystem services and support the livelihoods of millions of communities. They host birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects, plants and microorganisms, providing food, shelter and breeding grounds.

According to the Environment CEC for Kiambu County, David Kuria, who spoke to KNA, the county government is setting up a policy of removing all the deep-rooted trees like Blue gum which has been planted along the swamp and enhancing planting of tree species that conserve the environment.

The Wetlands in Kenya include Tana River, Yala Swamp, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Dunga swamp in Kisumu, Ondiri swamp to name a few.

By Grace Naishoo

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