Homa Bay Environmentalists Advocate for Wetland Conservation to Mitigate Climate Change

HOMA BAY — Environmental activists in Homa Bay have called on the government and the public to prioritize the conservation of wetlands as a strategy to counteract the adverse effects of climate change. This plea was made during a public event in Homa Bay town, emphasizing the critical role that wetlands play in supporting biodiversity and sustaining local livelihoods.

According to Kenya News Agency, the County Director for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), concerted efforts are necessary to safeguard these ecosystems, which are currently under threat from pollution, human encroachment, and wildfires. Despite Homa Bay County being home to approximately 60 wetlands, only three have been officially gazetted for protection. Josiah highlighted the case of Simbi Nyaima, a wetland gazetted in 1997 as a bird sanctuary, which has since halved in size due to encroachment.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, NEMA is actively working towards the gazettement of all wetlands in the area. Furthermore, partnerships with the county, national government, and the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) aim to plant around 50,000 trees in schools and prisons to bolster environmental sustainability efforts. This initiative, as confirmed by KAA Manager Angela Tilitei, is part of a broader strategy to achieve 30% forest coverage by 2030, with a focus on not just planting but also nurturing trees to maturity.

Echoing Nyandoro’s sentiments, Homa Bay County Chief Officer for Environment Donald Ogweno underscored the importance of wetlands in the reproductive cycle of fish, noting that Homa Bay accounts for 80% of the Lake Victoria shoreline. Given the community’s reliance on fishing for their livelihood, the preservation of these wetlands is deemed essential.

Efforts to clean up the lake shore and reduce plastic and solid waste are also underway, aimed at creating a more sustainable waterfront. Climatologist Clifford Omondi, a member of the Environment Institute of Kenya, urged the community to adhere to the Ramsar Convention guidelines on tree care to further mitigate climate change impacts. The conservation of wetlands, through official gazettement and other protective measures, is seen as a crucial step in this ongoing environmental battle.