The Kimana wetland catchment area is found in Kenya’s southern rift-valley bordering Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s 3rd highest mountain. Kimana’s wetland emerges from a series of mountain springs and is essential for life in this generally arid to semi-arid area.Though one of Kenya’s smaller wetlands, it provides water to Kenyan towns (Nairobi, Machakos, Athi-river etc.) and is a source of livelihood to thousands including the largely pastoralist community that need water and pasture for their livestock and small-scale farmers who use the wetland’s water for irrigation.
Due to the impacts of socio-economic development, coupled with general environmental degradation and ongoing climatic changes, the Kimana area is experiencing prolonged and severe droughts. At the same time, the impacts of climate change have resulted in an accelerated rate of melting of the snow caps of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which are the main source of water for the wetland. It is predicted that the snow caps will have disappeared in less than 50 years, which in turn will result in reduced water in the wetland.
As the area’s pastoralist and farming communities encroach farther into the center of the wetland, there is an understandable concern that conservation of the Kimana swamp will discourage its economic utilization. Though if the swamp drys out there will be no water for either the herders or farmers. In the past, these communities have been evicted from Amboseli National Park when priority was given to wildlife conservation efforts.It is therefore critical to combine the conservation of Kimana Wetlands with a consideration of the needs of the people who use and depend on these natural resources on a daily basis.
What We do In Kimana
From 2006 to 2010, Wetlands International Africa (WIA) worked with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Kimana’s communities to improve resilience and mitigate effects of the changing climate, while supporting national policy and legislative processes to improve the management of the wetland. This calls for:
- A wetlands management institutional framework that provides broad-based gender sensitive stakeholder decision-making – Kimana Wetlands Association has now been registered as a recognized, bonafide legal entity to champion sustainable management of Kimana Wetlands. Its 80 members including 25 women, 15 youth and 40 men, participating are the ‘voice’ of Kimana’s residents effectively advocating and influencing management decisions.
- Adoption of effective wetland management practices - Kimana Wetlands Association together with a sensitized network of local and national stakeholders are now implementing activities guided by a reviewed and widely endorsed Kimana Integrated Wetlands Management Plan.The plan ensures that national policies, laws and practices that promote sustainable wetland management are enacted and implemented.
- Linking of policy makers and communities for shared knowledge of experience on wetland management - In 2010, Kimana’s Wetlands Association and partners hosted the Parliamentary select committee for Lands and Natura resources to field visit that demonstrated first-hand the sustainable management needs of a wetland such as Kimana.This has increased momentum toward finalising the ‘National Wetlands Policy’which is still in draft form and awaiting parliamentary assent.
- Enhanced community awareness of their roles in the conservation efforts Wetlands International Africa’s seed funding, Noomayianat Community Development Organization (NCDO) has successfully engaged and mobilized Kimana’s communities on the value of conserving the wetland.
Seed Funding booklet here