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Mara Day was adopted by the 10th Sectorial Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin held on 4th May 2012 in Kigali. The Ministerial Council made the decision to emphasize the importance of Mara ecosystem to economies and about 1000,000 people deriving livelihood from the shared Mara ecosystem between Kenya and Tanzania. The Council's decision aimed at reversing poor water quality, water overuse, and predatory conversion of forests resources for short-term interests and destruction of upstream watershed. The uniqueness of Mara Day Celebration centers on its coincidence with the Great Migration of wildlife from Serengeti National Park in the United Republic of Tanzania to Maasai Mara National Game Reserve of the Republic of Kenya every September. The Great Migration is in itself a worldwide fame based on such organized exodus of wildebeests to and from the two EAC neighboring countries. The celebrations are guided by three inter-woven objectives: to create awareness among key stakeholders of the importance of Mara River Basin and its resources; recognize and involve the contribution of different public and private actors in management of Mara River Resources and to promote public –private partnerships as a pathway towards sustainable management of Mara River Waters and biodiversity.
The 8th Mara Day Celebrations was held in Mugumu, Tanzania 12-15th September 2019 under the theme ‟I, Mara River-Stand with Meˮ. The theme called for coherent, no regret intereventions of different actors in Mara River Basin and its Swahili version is ‟Mimi Mto Mara Nitunze, Nikutunze”. The 8th Mara Day Celebrations was preceded by the evidenced-based conference. KEFRI, KFS, NEMA, NETFUND and Water Resources Authority participated under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. KEFRI was represented by a team from Lake Victoria Basin Eco-Region Research Programme, Maseno and Migori Centres.
The Mara River is an international river, shared between Kenya and Tanzania covering about 13,750 km2, of which about 65% is located in Kenya and 35% in Tanzania. The Mara River runs through the Masai Mara Game Reserve on the Kenyan side and the Serengeti National Park on the Tanzanian side, both of global conservation significance and of great economic importance. It pours its water into Lake Victoria, the source of the river Nile.
Local communities and other stakeholders in the Mara River Basin are increasingly facing water shortages as well as problems with poor water quality and environmental degradation. This limits attempts to alleviate poverty and improve healthcare, food security, economic development and natural resources conservation management and protection as well as utilization.
The main competing interests for water resources in the Mara River include the large scale irrigation plantations on the Kenyan side, the Masai Mara and Serengeti Wildlife protected areas, small scale farmers and pastoralists on both sides of the basin, the mining industry in Tanzania, small scale fishing activities and urban and rural domestic water supplies. Further problems are caused by the loss of forest cover in the upper catchments and along rivers, unsustainable agricultural practices (including irrigation), pollution threats from urban settlements and mining.
|Aerial View of some parts of Mara River as meanders its way to Lake Victoria through the Republic of Kenya the United Republic of Tanzania|
Evidenced-based papers were presented based on four thematic areas each emphasizing the current state of the Mara ecosystem and action-oriented recommendations for the sustainable water resources, biodiversity and livelihoods in Mara River Basin as shown below,
|Socio Economic Issues and Livelihood in Mara River Basin||The Importance of the Mara River to the Society and Economy of Kenya and Tanzania (World Wide Fund)|
|Social Economic Activities and Livelihood in the Mara River Basin (St. Augustine University)|
|Environment and Ecosystem of Mara River Basin||TImpact of Human Activities on Environment and Ecosystem of Mara River Basin (Lake Victoria Basin Commission)|
|*Impact of Land cover and Land Use on Stream flows in Upper catchment of Mara River, Kenya (Kenya Water Towers Agency)|
|Technologies for Rehabilitation of Degraded Areas in the Water Towers of Kenya (Kenya Forestry Research Institute)|
|Environment and /or Ecosystem management of the Mara River Basin (Kenya Wild life Services)|
|Environment and Ecosystem of Mara River Basin||Importance of Mara River Water to the Community Lake Victoria Basin Water Board|
|Mchango wa Mto Mara Katika Kuboresha Hali ya Maisha ya Jamii (Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority )|
|The roles of Key players in Mara River basin for sustainability and improved livelihood||The role of water utilities in improvement of livelihoods and sustainability of the Mara River Basin (Bomet Water Company Limited)|
After the conference the presenter of the papers led group work in the thematic areas to consolidate the findings and recommendations from the presentations into resolutions which were later presented and discussed in a plenary. The plenary refined then passed the following resolutions/recommendations;
KEFRI Maseno exhibited together with sister SAGAs in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Our exhibitions were dictated by the theme of the day. We showed what technologies and knowledge that we have developed which could be used to stand with Mara River as per the theme of the celebration. The Chief Guest Prof. Makame Mbarawa, Minster for water United Republic of Tanzania, The Head of Kenyan Delegation, Hon. Ken Obura, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development, Dr. Ally-Said Matano, Executive Secretary, LVBC led other dignitaries on tour of the exhibition stands. At our stand the posta on demonstration of successful rehabilitation technologies for the degraded forest areas and ours publication on the Rehabilitation of degraded natural forest in Kenya and a brochure on management of invasive woody species in water towers of Kenya were centres of attention. The Regional Commissioner, Mara Region, Hon. Adam Kigoma, actually chipped in to emphasize importance of the two countries sharing experience and success on rehabilitation and management of invasive plant species.
During the speeches, the Executive Secretary LVBC presented the Chief Guest and the Leader of Kenyan delegation the ten resolutions passed in the post the conference for forward transmission to the respective Governments. The two Governments are supposed to present the resolutions in the East Africa Legislative Assembly for debate and adoption.
The head of the KEFRI team, Dr. Jared Amwatta, conducting the Chief Guest, Hon. Prof. Makame Mbarawa, Minister of Water Resources, Tanzania, Hon. Ken Obura, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development, Hon. Adam Kigoma, Regional Commissioner, Mara Region, Dr. Ally-Said Matano on tour of our stand and exhibits.
Hon. Adam Kigoma, Regional Commissioner, Mara Region, emphasizing on the need for KEFRI to share technologies developed with sister institutions in Tanzania