NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – Prime Minster Mr Raila Odinga has asked communities living around and in the Mau forest to realise that they will lose the most when the water catchment area is destroyed.
The Prime Minister said it was primarily for the locals that the government was trying to save the water catchment areas around the country.
At the same time, Mr Odinga asked African Parliaments to give priority to the protection of the environment saying failure to do that was exposing the Continent to dangers of desertification in the years ahead.
Speaking when he received a delegation from the Pan African Parliament, UNEP and UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in his offices, Mr Odinga said time was running out for Kenya and Africa to preserve the environment.
"We don’t have an option here in Africa and the time to act is now. Unless something is done about environmental degradation, Africa will be lost," the PM said.
Mr Odinga said Kenya’s forest cover has fallen from 12 per cent at independence to 1.7 per cent and dwindling at present.
He said the degradation of Mau and other forests across the country had left Kenya vulnerable to global warming whose signs were being seen in lesser and more unreliable rainfall while snow disappears from Mt Kenya.
The PM condemned the burning of Mau forest in recent days saying it was the work of anarchists.
"The anarchists seem to be saying that if they can’t have the forest then nobody will have it. They think they are doing it to fight somebody not knowing they are fighting themselves. When these forests are finally destroyed, the whole nation will suffer. But the locals will suffer most," Mr Odinga said.
Speaking at the function, Ms Feng Min KAN, a senior coordinator with the Geneva-based UNISDR, asked MPs to take lead in efforts to stop global warming.
She said climate change should be dealt with at the level of heads of State and government for it to bear fruits.
"We would like to have prime ministers and president’s taking lead in helping stem effects of climate change," Ms Feng said.
The Pan African Parliamentarians said they were concerned about the minimal attention heads of states and heads of governments in Africa are giving to climate change.