Siaya Sub County environmental forum launched
23 July 2013, 18:35
Siaya - It is a sunny day in Siaya. People from different backgrounds have assembled at the Kenya Industrial Estates Ltd. in Siaya town, to participate in the launch of the Yala Swamp Stakeholder Platform, a one of its kind forum which brought together over 40 organization representatives from different interests to forge a way forward in the management of the wetland.
The interests range from farming, horticulture, water services, fishing, beach management to conservation, but as the participants confirm, they all have a uniting interest, sustainable utilization and management of Yala wetland.
The diversity in backgrounds is equally reflected in the participant’s expectations, which includes increased collaboration between different stakeholders within Yala wetlands, development of Yala wetland management plan, increased engagement and partnership between the individuals and government as well as improved information sharing within and outside the Yala ecosystem.
According to Ochieng Wandera, the facilitator, this platform is made up of different organizations who on voluntary basis will exchange and share information, communication and experience, and will undertake joint activities.
However, the organizations will remain autonomous in their operations as individual groups. The overall goal of the platform is to ensure sustainable utilisation and management of the Yala wetland to enhance its sustainable ecological and social economic functions for present and future generations.
Some of the specific objectives of the platform include establishment of an engaging framework among Yala wetland stakeholders, strengthen institutional framework for integrated management and utilisation of Yala wetland and promote awareness and participation amongst the stakeholders in wetland conservation.
The participants established the main issues and conflicts surrounding Yala wetlands, how they are engaging in resolving them and how the platform will be engaged in resolving their pertinent environmental issues and conflicts.
They also established a special taskforce, drawn from different backgrounds in terms of gender, geographical location and interests, which will manage the platform and represent their interest in the management and sustainable utilisation of Yala wetland.
In addition, the platform will form a key component in the private public partnership framework.
The platform was inspired by an exchange visit planned by RECONCILE and VFA through the GED project, whereby environmental champions from Siaya and Bondo underwent two days exchange visit in Naivasha.
Some of the key lessons learnt from the visit that prompted the group to initiate the platform include attitudinal change in management and utilisation of Yala wetland, need to strengthen the existing leadership and management structures in respective groups, need to increase collaboration between the community groups and government in management exercise, improved conflict resolution mechanisms and approaches and increased transparency and accountability when handling finances.
The platform also owes its inspiration to the trainings, engagements forums and capacity building it has received through the GED project.
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Governance Environment and Development [GED] is a 24 months project funded by ACT! through its CRM facility. The project aims at improving ecosystem functionality and sustainable benefit sharing of natural resources, and its being implemented by Resource Conflict Institute (RECONCILE) and Volunteers for Africa (VFA). To realize this goal, the project has undertaken community engagements, trainings, capacity building and community exchange programmes within Yala and Naivasha project areas.
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