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Govt vows to spearhead conservation efforts

16 September 2014, 08:20

Nairobi - The government on Monday vowed to spearhead conservation efforts during the much- anticipated Mara Day which is marked annually on September 15.

The ceremony, which was held in Narok, was attended by 300,000 people from Kenya and Tanzania to recognize the importance of the Mara River that is the lifeline of the Mara-Serengeti.

Deputy President William Ruto, who presided over the celebrations, said the government was committed to the conservation of the Mara basin for the benefit of both the current and future generations.

"My presence here is to underscore the government's commitment to conserve the Mara basin and ecosystem," Ruto told participants at the celebrations to mark the 3rd Mara Day under the theme "Mara forever, Mara Milele".

Mara Day is marked alternately between Kenya and Tanzania, and it coincides with the spectacular wildebeest migration that sees the animals cross the Mara River from the Serengeti to the Mara plains.

The Mara Day celebrations are aimed at increasing visibility of the region, its natural resources and the impact Mara ecosystem has on the livelihoods and economies of the sister countries of the East African Community.

Ruto said the Mara River is a regional shared resource for sustainable economic development of Lake Victoria Basin. "The Mara basin as a shared resource has important significance, and therefore we as a people of this region have a responsibility to ensure resources benefit citizens and generations to come," he said.

The celebrations saw regional institutions, government bodies, research institutions, communities, businesses and schools demonstrate the need to ensure that this river flows continuously.

"The Mara-Serengeti is the center-stage of the world-renowned wildebeest migration. The ecosystem is a major tourist attraction that significantly contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of the two countries," said Jared Bosire, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Kenya Conservation Manager.

The build-up events were geared towards celebrating the Mara River as a shared resource, while at the same time increasing the level of awareness among stakeholders on the challenges and importance of Mara River Basin ecosystems.

Bosire said WWF working with partners has been a key player in the Mara River Basin for over 10 years through the Mara River Basin Program that was established in 2003, which covers both Kenya and Tanzania.

"In the 10 years we have been in the Basin, our greatest achievement as WWF has been helping local communities to come together and form institutions known as Water Resource User's Associations in Kenya, and Water Users Associations in Tanzania that are now actively taking part in water resource management, which was not the case before we came in," said Kevin Gichangi, the Coordinator of the Mara River Basin Program.

Also read: Conservation group partners with Nature Kenya

Despite supporting formation of the local water resources management institutions, WWF in collaboration with Lake Victoria Basin Water Board in Tanzania and Water Resources Management Authority in Kenya is supporting the capacity building of these institutions on water resources and environmental management.

 - Xinhua

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