The Country will soon witness the roll out of the Kenya Watershed Services Improvement Programme (KEWASIP); a flagship KES 30.24 billion nation-wide ecosystems restoration programme championed by the World Bank
The ambitious multi-stakeholder initiative is spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry through the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a fact that underscores NETFUND’s pivotal role in advancing environmental conservation and sustainable Environmental management practices across the country.
With the primary objective of restoring degraded watersheds, amplifying hydrological and ecosystem functioning, the programme will focus on five key result areas; restoration of degraded landscapes, promotion of sustainable land management practices, and capacity-building for local institutions and county governments. The programme seeks to contribute to the improvement of watershed services leading to overall health and resilience of ecosystems across the country.
Among the identified hotspot areas are the country’s water towers, forest ecosystems, smallholder rainfed agricultural areas, and rangelands in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) that continue to face increasing threats due to human settlements and farming, leading to the encroachment on forests and riparian areas. Identification of beneficiary ecosystems is based on broad-based stakeholders’ consultation and criteria.
Other key stakeholders, in the implementation of the programme include the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Water Towers Agency, and various community-based organizations working in the environment sector. This united front aims to meaningfully address pressing environmental challenges such as climate change, land degradation, and water scarcity in a way that is holistic and sustainable.
The country’s natural resources, serving as ecological goods and services, form the backbone of both the national and sub-national economy. However, the exploitation and unsustainable use of these resources have left the country vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, land degradation, desertification, water scarcity, and food insecurity.
Deforestation in Kenya’s water towers occurs at an alarming rate of 50,000 hectares per annum according to official data. This rampant degradation is estimated at an annual loss exceeding US$19 million to the GDP. The consequences extend further, with a reduction of over 70% in the country’s water supply, equivalent to 62 million cubic meters per year.
The KEWASIP programme aligns with existing government policies, synergizing efforts to achieve the National Strategy for over 30% National Tree Cover by 2032, supporting the Forest and Landscape Restoration Initiative, and contributing to the Country’s Green Economy agenda. Additionally, it contributes to the Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) submitted to the UNFCCC and resonates with global commitments under the AFR100 Initiative, reflecting Kenya’s dedication to restoring 5.1 million hectares of land by 2030.