Kenyan campaigners urge integration of cultural practices to boost water conservation

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A woman fills up her water jerrycan in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, January 1, 2022. /VCG
A woman fills up her water jerrycan in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, January 1, 2022. /VCG

The involvement of custodians of indigenous cultural practices will be key to realization of water security in Kenya amid rising demand for the commodity linked to urbanization, green campaigners said on Tuesday at an event to mark World Water Day.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the executive director of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), harnessing indigenous knowledge and customs of diverse Kenyan communities has proved effective in conserving fresh water bodies.

“By integrating traditional cultural practice in conservation of freshwater resources, we can bequeath a healthier, food secure and climate resilient future to the young generation,” Mwenda remarked.

In addition, Mwenda regretted that poor land use practices, mechanized farming, governance hiccups had compromised ecological integrity of fresh water resources, only to escalate threats to human health.

Mwenda called for adoption of sustainable production and consumption models to minimize threats to freshwater resources including pollution, invasive species and salinity.

Kenya marked this year’s World Water Day under the theme of “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible”, with a call to explore innovative strategies and reinvigorate conservation of the scarce resource.

Samuel Kanyi, a 66-year-old community elder from upper eastern Kenyan county of Meru said that restoring positive aspects of traditional African culture would boost conservation of both surface and groundwater resources.

In particular, Kanyi said the government should involve cultural leaders in conservation of forested landscapes that are a source of fresh water besides sustaining livelihoods of farmers, herders and hunter-gatherers.

He noted that protecting cultural shrines that are home to under-ground aquifers and streams will be key to sustaining water and food security for downstream communities.

The World Water Day, which has been celebrated annually on March 22 since 1993 aims to raise awareness on the need to conserve the commodity that is central to realization of the global sustainability agenda. Enditem

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