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November 15, 2018

Why indigenous trees should be planted around Kenya’s dams

A panoramic view of the picturesque indigenous Ngangao forest, that is home to several endemic indigenous trees and rare birds on the verge of extinction.
A panoramic view of the picturesque indigenous Ngangao forest, that is home to several endemic indigenous trees and rare birds on the verge of extinction.

Planting of bamboo and indigenous trees will promote sustainable supply of water to Elgeyo Marakwet’s Sh63 billion mega dams, an expert has said.

Christopher Saina urges the state to plant bamboo and local indigenous trees around the sites of the proposed dams, saying the giant grass and trees will maintain a constant flow of water to the dams.

The state plans to start construction of the Sh35 billion Arror Dam in Marakwet and Sh28 billion Kimwarer Dam in Keiyo South before the end of the year.

Saina says there is a risk of low levels of water in such dams during dry seasons if proper measures are not put in place to increase volumes of water in streams and rivers that feed the dams.

In April, the 70 million cubic metre Ndakaini Dam near the Aberdares recorded low levels, despite heavy rains. The area was at the time receiving 100mm of rain, which was enough to fill the aquifers and the dam.

“Low water levels can be avoided when we research on the ideal indigenous trees and bamboo to be planted in areas adjacent to dams. We also need to relook into the water towers policy,” Saina says.

 The Kerio Valley Development Authority, which is building the Elgeyo Marakwet dams, has announced plans to establish zones around the multipurpose projects.

Chief executive David Kimosop said trees are being planted in the zone in a wider scheme to conserve the environment around the dams and stop soil erosion.

Kimosop said at least 800 families will be resettled starting November to pave way for the two dams.

The MD said the dams will generate 60 megawatts of hydroelectric power and irrigate 10,000 acres on the drier areas of Kerio Valley.

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