Government institutes measures to combat desertification

The government has instituted measures to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in the country to speed up development, a cabinet secretary said.

Prof. Judy Wakhungu ,Environment and Natural Resources, said trends in community migration in search of better productive lands due to impacts of desertification were worrying, hence the need to mitigate climate change.

Speaking at Hulahula Catholic Church grounds in Marsabit County during the commemoration of the World Day to Combat Desertification, Prof Wakhungu said policies and programmes that include the environmental policy of 2014 have been formulated.

The CS observed that increasing aridity, degradation and drought has overtime turned vast lands that were once productive into barren land that could no longer support livelihoods of communities.

She cited the recent episodes of massive livestock deaths that left communities in the counties of Marsabit, Wajir and Isiolo, among others, without a source of livelihood due to the drought

Prof Wakhungu noted that migrations triggered by severe drought across counties were a challenge to sustainable development because they were recipe for conflicts between communities.

This, she cautioned would divert communities and government productive efforts to conflict management hence slowing down economic growth.

She told the meeting also attended by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Director general Prof Geoffrey Wahungu , Marsabit County commissioner, Magu Mutindika, Vision 2030 director general Jonathan Lodompui and the ambassador to Kenya Mission to UNEP Ann Wanjohi that both governments at national and county levels ought to invest in innovative strategies to combat desertification.

‘I appeal to every Kenyan to play an active role and rightly in slowing climate change so that we can reclaim unproductive lands because that is the only way we can accelerate growth and transform our lives,’ she said.

The CS said the government would like to see an integrated approach which enhances resilience of communities through a defined guide on the management of natural resources and conservation of the environment.

Prof. Wakhungu disclosed that her ministry has established voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets as set by the United Nations convention to combat desertification besides fast-tracking the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are aligned to environment conservation.

She reiterated that the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags would not be rescinded because it has not only proved to be an environmental hazard but also a cause of major human health concerns.

She added that research had found out that plastic bags cause deaths of livestock and wildlife and was therefore an economic setback to pastoralist communities, Marsabit included.

This move is principally meant to rescue our mother nature from the devastating plastic bags menace and allow Kenyans to enjoy a clean and healthy environment, the cabinet secretary said amid applause from wananchi at the meeting.

According to the cabinet secretary, the government wants, through actions, to ensure that the country moves closer to zero net land degradation by the year 2030 which will greatly help in combating desertification and promoting sustainable development.

Marsabit County Executive for Environment, Water and Naturals Resources, Ms. Hawo Abdallah said the county government has prioritized environment conservation and was allocating the largest share of its budget to the docket.

She said climate change was a real threat in Marsabit adding that a plan of action that included planting trees had been formulated in a bid to mitigate its effects.

Source: Kenya News Agency