By Carol Njenga
NAIROBI, The government of Uasin Gishu County in western Kenya has set aside 15 million shillings (about 147,000 US dollars) to develop a wildlife sanctuary that will boost tourism in the North Rift region.
The setting up of thje Cheborarwa Wildlife Conservancy, located along the common border of Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, will boost conservation efforts as well as open up the region to local and foreign tourists.
Tourist camps and lodges in such conservancies provide employment, which requires training, eventually resulting in transfer of technology within the community.
Pastoralists are now undergoing formal training on new concepts of preserving land aimed at avoiding turning grazing lands into deserts through over-grazing.
Funds generated from tourism activities would be invested back into the local community in the form of hospitals, dispensaries, mobile clinics, water projects, bee-keeping and setting up of workshops to make handmade bead and basket work which in turn can be sold to tourists visiting the area.
The Kenya Widllife Service (KWS) Warden-in-charge of Uasin Gishu and Nandi Counties, Joel Kanda, says: “We are at an advanced stage to develop the Cheborarwa Wildlife Conservancy, which will be the first of its kind in Kenya. We will soon engage local residents and other stakeholders.”
The sanctuary comes several weeks after formation of the North Rift Economic Bloc where eight North Rift counties pledged to collaborate to exploit viable opportunities in the region.
Kanda says that once the sanctuary is fully developed, investors will develop hospitality facilities and youth will benefit from jobs created.
Kanda notes: “Learning institutions within the catchment region will save resources by touring this sanctuary instead of travelling long distances to Maasai Mara (National Reserve). We foresee an influx of tourists into the Northern Kenya Counties which now exist as one economic and tourism bloc.”