Category Archives: Environment

Group to plant 100 million trees in Kakamega forest


Group to plant 100 million trees in Kakamega forest

By Chris Mahandara/ Henry Magaga

A youth group has agreed to plant 100 million trees in Kakamega forest and nearby homes to save the forest from extinction due to human activities that have taken off a large portion of Kenya’s remaining tropical forest.

The move by the group is the first ever to be undertaken by the youth in the area on a scale of this magnitude.

Following the interest expressed by Kenya Young Greens (KYG), the Kenya Forest Service has allocated the group 700 hectares of forest land to undertake the ambitious exercise in three years.

The chairperson of the group Ms. Anne Bulimu said this year alone, KYG with other groups interested in conservation of the environment will plant one million tree seedlings.

This, she said will be followed by planting of more trees in the forest and neighbouring homes until the 100 million target is reached.

Under the programme christened Amani na Mazingira, she said KYG shall spearhead conservation efforts to mitigate against adverse effects of climate change at the same time crusade for peace among Kenyan communities ahead of the forth coming general elections.

The group visited the forest and found loggers have cut down indigenous trees that formed the famous forest that used to stretch from West Africa to East Africa.

“This is what prompted KYG to think of saving the forest by planting more trees to replace tjose cut down,” she said.

She said the locals will be sensitized on the need to plant more trees to benefit from carbon trade.

Meanwhile the Kenya Forest Service intends to harvest 100 hectares of mature cypress trees from the forest to pave way for planting new trees.

KFS Kakamega Zonal Manager Mr. Mwai Muraguri said the trees worth Sh. 200 million shall be harvested soon to prevent damage through natural attrition and invasion by insects .

 

Rotarians donate Sh. 4.5 million to protect water springs in kakamega County


KAKAMEGA

Wednesday, 14th March 2012     By Kakamegatimes

The Strathcona Sunrise Rotary of Canada in conjunction with the Rotary club of Kakamega have jointly funded the protection of 50  water springs across Kakamega County at a cost of sh 4.5  million in a bid to boost access to clean water.

Speaking during the commissioning, area Provincial Commissioner Samwel Kilele who lauded the Rotarians for their gesture said the springs were all ready for use and would go a long way in supplementing government efforts of provision of clean and safe drinking water for its citizens.

The President of the Kakamega Rotary Club Mr. Robertson Osangale said the move by the Rotarians was in line with its motto of service to the community. He urged the local community to take full ownership of the projects by maintaining the springs to required standards.

Rotarian Terry Nielsen of Strathcona Sunrise Rotary said that residents who in the past suffered from diseases such as dysentery, diaorhoreah and cholera as a result of drinking dirty water now had a reason to smile as they were now able to access clean water.

He said that plans were underway to protect more springs to ensure that all areas across the County have access to clean water within reasonable distances.

He said that so far some 300 community members had been trained to undertake maintenance of the protected water springs posterity

The chairman of Community Services, Mr. H. M. Vaghela said that Rotary club does not give money to individuals but rather uses funds contributed by members to undertake projects that would benefit communities more so in the water sector, education sector and humanitarian sector.

 

 

NEMA calls for environmental impact assesment before harvesting trees for the reopened Pan Paper Mills


MT. ELGON

Monday, 28th November 2011     By Kakamegatimes

National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has advised stakeholders to conduct environmental impact assessment in Mt. Elgon forest as a condition to harvest trees destined for the re-opened pan paper mills of Webuye.

Mt. Elgon NEMA official John Maniafu said the impact assessment exercise was vital to ascertain the sustainable harvest of trees from Mt. Elgon ecosystem that is a major water tower in the region whose tributaries drains into Lake Victoria.

Mt. Elgon County Council who are a key stakeholders have voiced concerns over the sustainable harvesting of trees from the forest saying the agreement ought to be renegotiated and reevaluated in light of rising concerns of environmental conservation.

The civic authority has already raised a red flag on the benefits of the Webuye based factory to the residents of the region due to wanton destruction of forest cover and the depilated road network in the region due to transportation of heavy logs to the factory.

Pan Paper mills have re-opened after more than two years of closure under the pile of debts with its debts estimated at Kshs. 2.2billion for its revival.

The Kenya forest services provide woods to the company at prices that were way below market rates where the factory pays Kshs. 700 a cubic meter of wood at a time when the average market prices was Kshs. 11200 a cubic meter.

According to NEMA official the license pan paper operated on gave it the right to extract timber without imposing responsibilities on the license to replant the harvested areas.

The only reference to the environment according to NEMA was an anti population and anti-erosion clause.

Before the company owned by Asian proprietors with a shareholding of 54 percent went under due to mismanagement, the factory demanded more subsidies and royalty on wood to be reduced from Kshs. 700 to Kshs. 350per cubic meter of wood.

The company further demanded that the government releases to the firm a long term wood license guaranteeing the company 450,000 cubic meters of wood per year for five years.

The investor also sought 8,000 hectares of land to grow biomass and on which he proposed to set up a biomass based stream and power generation facility.

An additional of 1800 hectares of land was sought by the investor to for the paper mills to grow its pulpwood and become self sufficient for its pulpwood supply.

Other concerns raised by the re-opening of the pan paper mills besides the sourcing of viable timber are health concerns arising from the waste dam on the paper factory which are believed to be corrosive affecting the iron sheets of houses in Webuye town besides the smell.

Ford- K activist Wafula Wanasi of Webuye told KNA that if the chemicals emitted from the factory could cause corrosion to iron sheets, then the damage to human health over time was a grave concern that ought to be investigated.

Despite the challenges bedeviling pan paper mills it employs 1600 permanent employees and 30,000 casual workers from the region whose livelihoods were shuttered when the factory was closed in March 2009 under a mountain of debts.

So far according to the minister of industrialization the government has spent Kshs. 1.6 billion towards the revitalization of t he factory.

However the factories liabilities to long term lenders at the time the company was being placed under receivership stood at Kshs. 6billion while electricity bill had accumulated to Kshs. 209 million prompting KPLC to disconnect power.

Even as celebration welcomed the opening of the factory which is the economic lifeline of Webuye town, local leaders led by Webuye mayor Ali Mutoka says caution should be taken to ensure the challenges that led to closure of the factory are addressed with urgency.

Assistant minister in the office of the prime minster Alfred Khangati says that the management contract of pan paper before the closure was not performance based and lacked clear obligations for the Indians to transfer technical know-how to locals to ensure continuity.

Khangati said the balance of power favored Indians investors although the government appointed its directors to oversee its 33 percent shareholding in the firm.

Mt. Elgon Maendeleo Ya Wanawake chairlady Jenepher Mbatiany ahs appealed to pan paper mills to undertake corporate social responsibility by sharing their profits with the local residents who she said had conserved the forests.

She said the agreement should be negotiated by among others local leaders to ensure the community along Mt. Elgon benefitted from the harvesting of timber from local forests.

Mrs. Mbatiany decried the pathetic road network in the area especially during rainy seasons and appealed for support to ensure the roads were in good conditions to ensure farmers can transport their agricultural produce to the market in time.

The women leader said Mt. Elgon was an important ecosystem saying it has to be concerted at all costs adding that its exploitation ought to be sustainable for the future generations.

Mt. Elgon is the source of a number of rivers, key among them being the river Nzoia, which flows into Lake Victoria and river Turkwel that empties its water into Lake Turkana.

Mt. Elgon is the oldest and largest solitary volcano in East Africa stretching from Kenya to Uganda covering an area of around 3500 km2 and it is also one of the largest intact calderas in the World.

 

Maize thief lynched


KAKAMEGA

Monday, 28 November 2011      By Kakamegatimes

A SUSPECTED thief was today lynched by irate members of the public after they nabbed him stealing maize at Kiwanja Ndege village.

The suspect had broken into a maize  store when the owner was woken up by commotion in his compound forcing him to raise an alarm.

Confirming the incident area deputy policeboss Mr. Gregory Mutiso said the deceased with his two accomplices who managed to escape had broken into the food store at 2am last night with the intention of stealing the maize.

The alarm, he said attracted neighbors  who cornered one of the suspects and set on him with all manner of crude weapons killing him on the spot.

His body has been removed to Webuye district hospital mortuary.

Sh.419.1 million to conserve montane hotspots in Kenya


KAKAMEGA       Monday, August 22, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The Global Environment Fund (GEF) has issued a Sh. 419,130,000 grant to strengthen and conserve forests within the Eastern Montane Hotspots in Kenya.

Under the four year programme, the landscape of forests lying within the montane region in Kenya would be improved.

Communities living around the protected areas like the Mau, Cherangany, North and South Nandi and Kakamega forests would be sensitized on the need to protect and conserve the forests.

The funds would also be used to improve the biodiversity of the protected areas at the same time assist communities involved in the conservation of forests develop management plans.

Mr. Washington Ayiemba, site support specialist at Nature Kenya, the implementing agency of the programme said the biodiversity of the hot spots was endemic adding that the programme would come in handy to ensure that the endangered species are protected.

The forests, he said were under siege due to rising population adding that the programme would assist the government in the enforcement of legislation to conserve the forests.

He pointed out Kakamega forest which is the only remaining tropical rain forest in the country saying due to population pressure, the forest was under siege.

“The management plans would enable the communities come up with conservation measures and income generation generating activities that are not harmful to the biodiversity of the forests to improve their livelihoods,” he said.