- The Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission Masinde Bwire said a series of activities have been lined up by the Commission as a build-up to the 12th Mara Day celebrations.
- The build-up activities which kicked off on Friday in Kisumu City which is the headquarters of the Commission of the East Africa Community (EAC) include tree planting.
This year’s Mara Day celebrations will be held in Mugumu Town of Serengeti District in Tanzania.
The Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission Masinde Bwire said a series of activities have been lined up by the Commission as a build-up to the 12th Mara Day celebrations.
The build-up activities which kicked off on Friday in Kisumu City which is the headquarters of the Commission of the East Africa Community (EAC) include tree planting.
According to Masinde the Commission targets to plant over 100 trees at Victoria and Manyatta primary schools in Kisumu Central Constituency as part of the events to mark the Mara Day celebrations.
The Executive Secretary noted that the Mara River basin is an important shared ecosystem whose conservation is critical to Kenya and Tanzania that hosts Maasai Mara and Serengeti national parks respectively.
"These two national parks found within the Mara River basin contribute immensely to the economy of the two countries through tourism earnings and also support irrigation activities," Masinde said.
Amongst the objective of the annual Mara Day celebrations which began in 2012 is to promote livelihoods and sustainable conservation efforts targeting natural ecosystems in the Mara region.
He further reiterated that the Mara Day celebrations are important as a tool for creating awareness amongst stakeholders of the importance of the Mara River basin and its resources.
"We also use the celebrations to recognise the contribution of different actors in the management of the Mara River basin as well as promoting public/private partnerships to improve management of Mara's water resources and biodiversity," he said.
The theme for this year's celebration is "conserving Mara River basin for biodiversity and sustainable economy".
According to Masinde, before the climax of the event which will be held on 13th September, there will be a scientific conference on 14th whose overall objective is to harness and advance knowledge to inform sustainable management and conservation of the Maasai Mara and Serengeti ecosystem.
Speaking to the press after planting a tree at Victoria Primary School in Kisumu on Friday, the executive Secretary noted that the signing of the memorandum of understanding ( MOU) between Kenya and Tanzania on joint management of the transboundary water resource management for the Mara River in 2015 was a milestone.
"Conserving Mara River basin has been beneficial to the two East Africa partner states considering the fact it generates revenue through the huge influx of tourists who flock to the area to witness the spectacular and unique wildebeest migration," he said.
The Executive Secretary who led the commission's staff in the tree planting activities in the two schools ahead of the celebrations said tree planting will help in conserving the environment and contribute to global reforestation.
"We are targeting to plant at least 500 trees annually, not just in Kisumu but also in Narok county within the Mara River basin," Masinde said.
Eco Bank is among the sponsors of this year's Mara Day celebrations.
According to the bank's regional manager in charge of Western Kenya Thaddeus Okwaro, Eco Bank has sponsored an essay writing competition that will see pupils from primary schools within the region emerge as the best sponsors to attend the Mara Day celebrations in Tanzania.
The bank has also donated Sh1.5 million to the commission that will go towards logistics support and the tree planting drive in the schools ahead of the event on September 15th.
Okwaro who represented the group's CEO said the Pan African bank is keen to support the efforts towards environmental sustainability.
"We will sponsor the essay writing competition that targets promotions of sustainable environmental conservation efforts," the manager said.
"We want to make the environment better. The bank's commitment is beyond commercial interest since it focuses on the wellbeing of the future," Okwaro added.
He said Eco bank also supports various greening initiatives to champion environmental conservation efforts in the countries it operates in.
"We partner with several organisations supporting environmental conservation in the 33 countries we operate on within Africa," he said.