The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has received a donation of Sh220 million from the United Nations Environment Development Fund (UNDP) and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to promote environmental conservation and tourism in parts of Western Kenya region.
The ecotourism project targets Chereng’ani hills (Trans Nzoia County), Nandi forest (Nandi County) and Kakamega forest in Kakamega County among other tourism attraction sites in the region.
It aims to promote tourism and environmental activities as alternative source of income to improve livelihood of the local communities.
Joel Kanda, chief warden in Nandi County, said that various government departments including KWS, Kenya Forestry Services, National Environment Management Authority and Kenya Forestry Research Institute are to implement the two-year project.
“Support Nature Kenya through the funding from UNDP and GEF is to spearhead the programme and key government departments involved in environmental, wildlife and tourism issues among others will be the implementers,” explained Mr Kanda.
Meanwhile, KWS plans to promote tourism as alternative source of revenue for counties in the western region.
The animal protection body in Nandi County is to organise exhibitions and sporting activities to rise over Sh1 billion in the next one year for environmental conservation and safeguarding the endangered sitatunga antelope species to attract more tourists.
“Some of the tourism attraction sites and animals in the county are at the risk of extinction due to human-wildlife conflict unless proper environmental conservation measures are put in place,” said Joel Kanda, chief warden in Nandi County.
He disclosed that lack of sufficient funding for basic maintenance of infrastructure to tourism attraction sites threatens the sustainability of tourism as domestic and foreign exchange earner.
He disclosed that it costs about Sh120,000 to train one ranger to check on poaching activities and destruction of wetlands.
“The wildlife protection and environmental conservation programme is a costly venture that it requires support of other development partners,” said Mr Kanda.