NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – In an inaugural visit to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) headquarters, on Tuesday, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai announced the official partnership of her organisation the Green Belt Movement and NEMA.
The partnership that comes on the heels of Earth Day is in response to concerns of depleting water sources particularly in the Kenyan Highlands.
Professor Maathai expressed her disappointment over a recent decision, made by Kenya\’s Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, to plant a symbolic eucalyptus tree in a watershed area to attract carbon credits.
"The eucalyptus trees, planted in the highlands, absorb excessive amounts of water from the ground and eventually make it dry, hard and unproductive. To encourage farmers in the watershed areas to plant eucalyptus trees on their farms is to make them even more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change," said Prof Maathai.
Professor Maathai, who was appointed the Ambassador for the Environment and Climate Change by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, suggested a friendlier alternative to the eucalyptus trees.
"It would be much better if we were pushing the planting of bamboo. It can play a very important role in conserving water. The good thing with bamboo is that when you cut it, it sprouts back. It grows much faster than the trees, and it is friendly to water conservation," said Prof Maathai.
NEMA\’s Chairman Francis ole Kaparo, is confident in the partnership with the Green Belt Movement to impact the environment.
"The Green Belt Movement is one of the best initiatives to partner with to help execute our mandate. The mandate of NEMA encompasses every aspect of human life. We are called as organization to ensure that Kenyans live in a clean and viable environment," said Mr Kaparo.
Prof Maathai said in order for the partnership to be successful, however, government involvement is a necessary element in their conservation efforts.
"We are pulling our financial and human resources, our talents and expertise together in order to make the Kenyan government prioritize the environment. It must give organisations like NEMA the resources they need to do what Kenyans expect them to do," said Prof Maathai.