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Saving the Mara River

Water scarcity in Kenya escalates when the dry season kicks in. In the Mara river basin, water is a precious resource supporting people and nature.

Water scarcity in Kenya escalates when the dry season kicks in.  In the Mara river basin, water is a precious resource supporting people and nature.
Kingasunye Reyia, a mother of four is forced to walk more than six kilometres daily during the dry season in search of water.
“When drought strikes, water becomes elusive and the implications are distressing. Everything in the villages stops. Our children stop going to school, men move out of villages in search of water and pasture for livestock, human-wildlife conflict becomes rampant and we experience waterborne diseases outbreaks.” she narrates.
One critical river that breaths life to the Mara ecosystem is the Mara River. The lifeline for the landscape’s rich biodiversity. It sustains what is considered the 8th wonder of the world while some call it the world’s greatest wildlife migration phenomenon- the annual wildebeest migration. The river also supports livelihoods of more than 1.1 million people in Kenya and Tanzania.
Unfortunately, the 395 Kilometers long river faces numerous threats affecting both water quality and the flow,   most of this is caused by human activities and climate change.
Tackling water challenge is the first step out of poverty.  To encourage good water stewardship in the Mara River, the  7th Mara day celebrations were held in Kilgoris DEB Primary School, Transmara in September 15th 2018. The theme of the celebration was Upstream and Downstream; Mara connects us all. A rallying call for all stakeholders to work together to conserve the Mara River Basin.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),  has been working in the Mara River basin for over a decade, playing a critical role in the conservation of the Mara ecosystem. During the event, WWF-Kenya and WWF Tanzania exhibited the trans-boundary initiatives implemented in the basin over the years in collaboration with communities, government agencies and partners.
Some of the partners who joined the celebrations were,  The Water Resource Users Association-Kenya, Water Users Associations-Tanzania and The Narok County Natural Resource Network among others.
Together we are:
  • Working with farmers in the upper catchment to embrace conservation agriculture to reduce siltation in the Mara River. Impact: reduced soil erosion increased farm productivity and improved food security.
  • Reducing mercury pollution from small scale gold miners,   a WWF priority in the Mara River Basin in Tanzania.  Impact:  WWF has supported the construction of a mercury retention pond, 800 meters away from the Mara River to be used by the miners because  gold processing is usually done in the river with the high risk of pollution from mercury.
  • Tackling the water challenge and supporting livelihoods through water provision, protection, education and research.
  •  Working with communities to improve access and benefits sharing in the Mau forest complex, the source of the Mara River.
Kenya's Mara river is integral to the Maasai Mara Reserve's ecology. But the river is under huge pressure water levels and quality have changed significantly over the past few decades because of agriculture, industrial activity, population growth, tourism etc.