FAO in Kenya

Good quality Water Depends on Forests


Key stakeholders in the forestry and environment sector converge in Baringo County to observe the importance of Forests.

– Representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of Kenya participated in the official celebration of the International Day of Forests organized jointly by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities in Koibatek Sub-County of Kenya’s Baringo County.

The event took place at Chemususu Water Dam, constructed in the middle of the indigenous Chemususu Forest and expected to cater for more than 600,000 residents of Baringo County and the surrounding areas.  Piped water, irrigation, and fishing will be made possible by Chemususu Forest Water catchment.

The official event began with a tree planting ceremony at the Chemususu Dam in the presence of Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, Professor Judi Wakhungu, The Governor of Baringo County, Mr. Benjamin Cheboi, the Director of Kenya Forest Service, Mr. Emilio Mugo, Senior Ministry Officials, KFS staff, FAO representatives as well as members of the public. FAO’s representative at the event Mr. Philip Kisoyan also planted a Podo tree (Podocarpus falcutus) on behalf of FAO-Kenya.

The International Day of Forests was first observed in 2013 and since then, every year on the 21st day of March, countries are encouraged to organise activities and events at local, national or international level to raise awareness of the importance of forest and trees. This year’s theme was “Forests and Water” emphasizing the importance of forests in supplying the planet with freshwater and their role in facing climate change.

Declining forest cover

A report on the national forest resource mapping and capacity development for the republic of Kenya volume (2013) revealed that forest cover experienced a decline from 7.89% in 1990 to 5.90 % in 2000.  However there had been an spike to 6.99% by 2010 as an increasing amount of forest areas have come under protection while more countries are improving forest management.  Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's most comprehensive forest review to date, The Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2015.

FAO’s role in protecting forests commended

In her opening speech, Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu congratulated the United Nation’s Forum on Forests and FAO for their efforts to promote better management of forests. “We congratulate these organizations for their continued stewardship of promoting forests and forest-related agenda at a global level and in the regions in the world. Since 2012, FAO has continued to provide leadership in marking of the International Day of Forests by developing and sharing information and communication materials and support the successful celebration of the International Day of Forests at the national level,” said Prof. Wakhungu.

The Cabinet Secretary also emphasized the commitment of her Ministry towards the protection and promotion of forests by identifying innovative ways of promoting investment in forests with the view of creating a climate-resilient and sustainable economy for the people in Kenya.

The public reminded of the crucial role of forests

The Governor of Baringo County reminded those present of the crucial role of forests for the environment, economic development and rural livelihoods and emphasized the contribution of forests to water supply in the region.

“The contribution of forests in water catchment is critical to Kenya’s rural and urban water supplies. Without forests our people in urban areas would not have water. The Chemususu Dam depends on Upper Chemususu, which depends on the Mau [Forest]. Without this, we wouldn’t have water in the entire county, let alone Nakuru [Town] or even Lake Victoria. It is very important for us to look after for this resource,” emphasized Mr. Cheboi.

According to the Analysis of Demand and Supply of Wood Products in Kenya (2013) conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the country’s per capita wood consumption is one cubic meter implying that around 40 million cubic meters of forests is consumed every year in the country. However, Kenya only plants 30 million cubic meters annually, indicating a huge deficit between demand and supply. As a result, the country is in dire need of a working management plan for forests which ensures that the scale of replanting and harvesting trees is balanced. Deforestation and mismanagement of forests continues to affect the country’s water supply – greatly affecting dependent sectors such as agriculture, fishing, electricity and even tourism.  It also increases the risk of floods or droughts during the rainy and dry seasons.