Engineer Alex Kemboi of Eldowas (in white) explains a point to sponsors at their exhibition stand during the inaugural climate action conference at Eka hotel in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County on April 8, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard] 

Calls for concerted efforts to conserve the environment dominated the inaugural climate action conference held in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county.

The conference organised by the Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas) kicks off a series of events that will culminate in the Eldoret City Marathon, now in its fourth edition.

The conference themed “connecting minds securing the planets” was attended by various stakeholders and partners including the Standard Group, Family Bank, Isuzu, WASREB among other partners.

In his opening remarks Eldowas Managing Director, Peter Biwott said that the water company serves about one million residents of Uasin Gishu County and its environs.

Mr Biwott noted that the main challenge facing the company is the drying up of water catchment areas.

“We need to conserve our catchment areas to increase water flow into our dams and ensure free flow of water within our reach. Through the climate action plan, we will be able to secure our future and that of our children,” said Biwott.

Mr Biwott said that with the available water towers, the company can only produce 43 million litres of water daily against the required 60 million litres.

He added that the company was now set to begin tree planting exercises in various water towers and schools within the region.

Uasin Gishu County Environment county executive Mary Njogu said that action needs to be taken to avert adverse climate change repercussions.

“Climate change and water scarcity are a big challenge. We need to mitigate the effects of climate change by planting more trees and appraise our forest cover in the county to 15 per cent,” said Njogu.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said that climate change has affected the water patterns in the region, and impacted the economic growth.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu (second left), Chief Administrative Secretary Water, Sanitation and irrigation Andrew Toimur (centre) and MD Eldowas Peter Biwott at the forest exhibition stand during the inaugural climate action conference at Eka hotel in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County on April 8, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Forest cover

Mandago said that the County has embraced climate change action through the Eldoret City Marathon.

According to the Governor, when the marathon began, the county had only four per cent of forest cover and 20 million more trees were needed to improve the forest cover.

“In the last three editions of the green marathon, over 10 million trees have been planted in the county, raising the forest cover to 8.2 per cent at the moment. The fourth edition will help raise the forest cover to 10 per cent,” said the county boss.

He said that the Green marathon is internationally recognized and is the highest paying one in Africa, praising it for working towards a good course of planting at least a target of 20 million trees.

Mandago advised that the planted trees should be tended to ensure that they grow while calling for fast gazettement of the Kaptagat forest as a water tower.

“We will plant trees in the forest which will not be used for commercial purposes but for the sole reason of enriching our water towers and reducing issues of water scarcity,” said Mandago.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu said that media plays a critical role in the advocacy needed for the success of climate action.

“Climate action conversation is relevant and comes in handy since climate change remains one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time due to land degradation, deforestation biodiversity loss and extreme vulnerability to climate change,” Mr Lyomu said.

Mr Lyomu said that the Standard Group will take part in advocacy, programmatic involvement and partnerships that aim at addressing the climate change issue

Rebecca Mbithi, Family Bank CEO, noted that the financial sector has a role to play in the attainment of SDGs and climate change action initiatives.

“We all have a great role to play in facilitating economic activities that add value to the people. Banks can mobilize green investment and help by pioneering afforestation initiatives for a better, sustainable future,” said Ms Mbithi.