The Star Big Read: State grows bamboos to save water towers
Years of deforestation has brought the forest sector to its knees. This sparked fears of acute water shortage across Kenya as water towers turned bare.
Fears of dry taps, especially in towns and cities, were real, as deforestation depleted state forests, leaving water levels in major rivers and streams at their lowest.
But now a solution is emerging in the form of the giant grass that is bamboo. It is fast getting recognition in Africa due to its quick growth, resilience and high ability to conserve soil and water. Its economic prospects can’t be overstated.
Kenya is now rehabilitating water towers through an ambitious bamboo-growing plan that is hoped will restore normal water levels.
Through the Kenya Water Towers Agency, the state plans to establish bamboo plantations in all the country’s water towers and build bamboo factories to encourage farm owners to grow bamboo, as the factory provides ready market.
Experts say bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, with certain species growing at 91cm within a 24-hour period — a growth rate of almost four cm an hour.
KWTA says it has begun a Sh2 billion plan to safeguard water-catchment areas. Board member Margaret Maranga says the agency is in talks with county governments as it scales up a coordinated effort to safeguard forest conservation.
Maranga says the agency has identified 70 water catchment areas that will soon be gazetted as water towers. The country currently has 18 gazetted water catchment areas, including the Abardaere Ranges, Mt Elgon, Mt Kulal, Loita Hills, the Mau Complex and Cherangany Hills.
Others include Mt Kenya, Marmanet Forest, Mt Kipipiri, Ndotos, Mt Marsabit, Huri Hills, Kirisia Hills, Nyambene Hills and Mathews Range.