A total of 70 more water towers across the country are set to be gazetted as the government races against time to improve the country’s forest cover amid increased logging and encroachment.
Following Monday’s announcement by the Kenya Water Tower Agency (KWTA), the number of water towers in the country will increase to 88.
This comes a week after the government set up a task force to investigate forest resources management and logging.
Dr Isaac Kalua, the KWTA board’s chairman, told journalists the new water towers are part of some of the existing forests and hills in the counties of Kajiado, Migori, Homa Bay, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Turkana, Meru, Laikipia, Nyamira and Nyeri.
Other counties to be included are Taita-Taveta, Kilifi, Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Baringo, Nakuru, Kiambu, Narok, Uasin Gishu, Meru, Embu, Kisii, Nandi, Lamu, West Pokot and Samburu.
“The request (to gazette more water towers) was forwarded to Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko who has approved it,” said Dr Kalua. “We will begin the process of surveying, delineating and fencing off these new towers and protect them from encroachment.”
He said once the gazettement was done, at least each county will have a water tower.
Earlier, the agency had proposed the gazettement of less than 30 water towers, a figure it said was revised to include more forests across the country which risked being wiped out.
The process, if successful, could help reverse the dangers posed to the increasingly receding forest cover, which scientists have warned could be decimated within the next 50 years.
Figures from the Environment ministry indicate that forest cover stands at about 7.2 per cent, which Mr Tobiko said they sought to increase to 15 per cent by 2022.
Land degradation, water scarcity, climate change and conflict over natural resources have also been blamed for the reduction of forest cover.
Already, a task force set up by Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Tobiko, to look into the management of the forests, has called on the public to submit their memoranda and petitions on matters that affect forests.
The 10-member task force, chaired by Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Wakanyi and Environment Institute of Kenya vice chairperson Linda Munyao, had begun receiving the submissions by yesterday.
Its key mandate is to determine the scale of illegal logging, destruction, and encroachment of public and community forests, water towers and other catchment areas, as well as the associated impacts.
The task force has been given the go-ahead to review procedures, qualification and conditions for licensing of saw millers in the country.