The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Sh0.8 Million for Rehab of River

The rehabilitation of the Wundanyi River has began. The Sh800,000 project, which is being funded by the Wundanyi CDF, is aimed at saving the river from drying up. Environmentalists in the region had expressed concern that the river could dry up in the near future following excessive siltation. The conservation work involves planting vetiver grass on the banks of the river.

Mwadime Kombo, who is a leading expert in vetiver tecnology, said the grass will prevent further erosion and siltation. "We have planted over 250 plugs of vetiver grass along the river banks this week.

Currently we are watering the plugs as the project goes on," he said. Kombo said that the grass is the man solution to degradation challenges that faces local rivers.

"The vetiver technology was successful in the rehabilitation of river Voi which faced the same challenges in the past few years.Vetiver has deep fibrous roots which penetrate up to three metres deep. It absorbs excess chemicals in the water which are unfit for human consumption," he said adding that the grass also acts as water purifier.Besides the grass acts as a water shed thus reduces the rate of evaporation and protects the river from drying up," said Kombo.

He said that environmentalist had battled to save the river by planting trees at the banks during rain season but the efforts have often been in vain as flash floods wash away the seedlings. Kombo said that this is the first time vetiver is being introduced in Wundanyi and is expected to give a lasting solution to the degradation of the river.

Wundanyi CDF Secretary Gredo Mwakatini, said they are working in collaboration with the local National Environment Management Authority department in the two phase project. "This is the first phase of the project under the environmental kitty of 2011/2012.

The second phase will be carried out in the next financial year," said Mwakatini. He said the river is the major source of livelihoods in the lowland areas and is also vital for wildlife adding that ther was need to save it from further degradation.

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