The residents of Central Alego ward through a community engagement by the National Environmental Complaints Committee have expressed the need for a long-lasting solution to the many problems they have been facing in relation to the Yala Swamp.
Over the years, the main tussles have been land ownership wrangles around the swamp area, investor relations with the community and control of the swamp water.
The National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) while on a visit in Siaya held several meetings with stakeholders including teams and representatives from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Nature Kenya, County Government and other key stakeholders of Yala Swamp before proceeding to Yimbo to meet the locals and hear their grievances in a bid to put in place regulations and action plans that would lead to finding solutions to their current problems.
According to the residents, some of the persistent problems they have been facing as a community residing around the wetland was grabbing and wrongful allocation of privately owned land to ‘outsiders.’
At the same time, some crooked investors have been channeling swamp water to already occupied land, in what the community says is the lack of proper coordination by the relevant authorities.
The locals had sent a petition to NECC citing among other issues, the degradation of the environment around Yala Swamp indicating the substantial destruction resulting in flooding of the land near the swamp.
On his part, NECC Chairman Dr. Lumumba Nyaberi after the session with the community constituted committee made up of members from the local administration, County Commissioner’s office, County Government and the Local Community to come up with a solution to the issues being raised
The public participation exercise elicited high emotions from the community representatives as they called for speedy action by the relevant government entities address the emerging problems.
“We are tired of empty political promises over the years but this time round we are not listening to anyone unless our problems are heard and solved once and for all,” said one of the community representatives.
The wetland that was previously under Dominion Farms Limited has been subjected to land activities that could potentially see the loss of habitat of some indigenous wildlife like the Sitatunga antelope that thrives in wetland environment.
“We have listened to the community and we have come up with the way forward to ensure that the future of the people around this wetland is taken care of as per the country’s constitution that guarantees a clean and healthy environment,” said NECC Secretary Dr. John Chumo.
By Calvin Otieno