A triple catastrophe threatens Kenya within 10 years, said Julius Kipng’etich, director of the wildlife service, the government’s paramilitary organisation responsible for managing the country’s 26 national parks and their wildlife. Drought has left more than five million people without food this year, combined with changing weather patterns and rapid population growth.
“The long rains have failed for the first time,” he told the British newspaper. “The implications for food security and water scarcity and energy are profound. Kenya will face these three crises in the next 10 years without a doubt. If we carry on the way we are going, in 20 years the consequences will be horrific.”
As well as being major centres of wildlife, five of Kenya’s national parks provide drinking water and hydroelectric power for almost 80% of the country. Several have been invaded by squatters, however. The 15,000 people living illegally in the heavily forested 400,000 hectares of Mau park have cut down nearly 104,000 hectares of trees in 15 years. Other parks have been invaded by people taking cattle to graze or by charcoal industries.
The Mau, the largest forest in Kenya, is considered critical for safeguarding water supplies there as well as in neighbouring Sudan and Uganda. Millions of people depend on the 12 rivers that flow from the mountainous area, providing water for the tea, livestock and energy industries. Other forested parks provide water for the capital, Nairobi, and hydroelectric power stations.
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