If every human being was responsible, do you think we would need efforts in conservation? I think not. Most of the things we are fighting to conserve are at the state they are because of human mischief. In Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” Our love for quick money and zero concerns about future has impacted the environment negatively. Nature is unforgiving. We have now started harvesting the fruits of our greed. Our rivers are drying up, the weather patterns have changed, and floods, drought, erosion and hunger are our portion now. Who do we blame? The government? Our parents? Ourselves?
I grew up in a village called Ndeffo, in Njoro constituency, Nakuru District (currently Nakuru County). At the time, Mau forest had stretched close to our village. Mauche, Likia farm, Mau and Mau Narok were all surrounded by Thick, Indigenous Mau Forest. No one could enter the forest alone. Young boys and girls used to gather on Saturdays-with donkeys-so that they can fetch firewood together. When in the forest, we would meet forest rangers at the entrance who would give us permission to fetch firewood. There was only one condition, No cutting down a standing tree or plant. We were only allowed to gather tree branches that had fallen due to old age. Trust me, they were more than enough. We would then exit the forest after the rangers were satisfied that we did not tamper with any living tree. We’d eat game meat. My dad and fellow village men would set traps in the Shambas next to the forest and they got lucky in many occasions (That was not poaching). Dikdiks, Leopards, Hares, Aadvarks and Hyenas were our frequent guests and it rained often.
Sadly, this happy life was cut short. From 1994, some people (Names and tribes preserved) invaded the forest. They constructed houses-mostly grass-thatched roofs-and cleared the bushes to make a compound. This went on for the next few years and by 1997, our village had more trees than what we called a forest. The entire area of Mauche and Likia towards Mau-Narok was subdivided into cultivation land. I am not sure if it was originally a forest land, or a private property that had grown into a forest, or forest invasion. I was too little for such land matters. On New Year Eve, 1998, there were tribal clashes in Njoro and our village was the most affected. The clashes were fatal (I will go into details on a one-on-one) and just like that, we got displaced. What I called home seized to be. My family, just like other villagers started a new life in a different place. Years later, I passed through Njoro and felt sorry. It was dry; people were going distances to fetch water. I flashed back how we only needed to harvest rain water.
In a span of 3 years, a forest was cleared. You can imagine what happens across the country, across Africa and all over the world. Our greed is now getting back at us. I’m sure everyone –especially my age mates and older-have a similar or a more touching story to tell. The other day I was in Nyeri County. I was given a story of Gura River. How it used to wash away Elephants from Aberdares. At the moment, it’s just a stream that dries up during dry seasons.
Are we at a state of no return? Can we reverse this? In my view, we cannot return the environment to the state it was 20 years ago. We have grown in population, water sources disturbed and climate change is already in effect. However, we can contain the situation from worsening. We can do this through banning tree cutting /logging, planting more trees, banning plastics and managing pollution.
On 24th March, I joined Safiri Nasi, Pigiame, Tour Operator society of Kenya, Golf Adventures Kenya and one Edward Muchoki at Ndakaini Dam.
They had organized a tree planting event at this source of water for Nairobi taps. We left Nairobi CBD at 9.00am and arrived at 11.00am. A 20 minutes warm up session followed by a briefing from Ndakaini Management prepared us for the task ahead.
Everyone was excited and motivated to plant trees. We were taken to the venue and in about 30 minutes, a group of 22 people had planted 500 seedlings.
We were then taken to a tour around the dam, which is nothing short of beautiful.
Unfortunately, something was not beautiful about Ndakaini Dam-The water levels. The capacity of this dam is 70 million cubic meters. It is currently at 22 million cubic meters. With the trenches being put in place to ferry water to Nairobi, I doubt the capacity will sustain. In the next few years, Nairobi will not have enough water. Rationing will be our portion. It was surprising that even the rain that rained few weeks ago had no effect on water levels at the Dam.
A lot needs to be done with urgency. My fellow humans, let’s accept that we have done wrong in the past. Let’s stop the blame games and take individual initiatives. Stop the song of government this, government that and take matters into our own hands. Plant trees and take responsibility on environmental matters. Let’s stop pollution by all means. Let’s avoid plastics like a plague. We owe this to our children and next generation. Let’s walk the green talk. Only actions will save the situation. In the words of Wangari Maathai, “Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. You are just talking.
Until next time, keep travelling……..
Kindly click on "comments" below to comment.