Laikipia Water Strategy






The Kenweb Project

The concept for the Kenya Wetland Biodiversity Research Team (KENWEB) was developed in May 2010 bringing together a multi-disciplinary group of wetland experts and strengthening existing linkages among member institutions.

The team so far consists of five permanent members from the National Museums of Kenya, University of Nairobi and Kenya Wildlife Services, three temporary members from the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK). Students in the project include:  two undergraduates; two Master's and four PhD students mentored by various members of the team. Plans for linkage with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology are also under negotiation. Members of KENWEB are also involved in outreach to secondary schools science clubs through collaboration with programmes by the French Embassy in Kenya.

Over the last fifty years, Kenyan wetlands have experienced major changes due to climate change, land use changes, upper catchment impoundments, agricultural development through irrigation schemes and species introductions. The effects of these changes have led to the loss of livelihoods for communities that are directly dependent on wetland resources. Rapid biodiversity loss in these wetlands has created a need for better assessments of the ecosystem functions, socio-economic values and important biodiversity.

In the past, several independent studies have been carried out in some wetlands but information necessary for mitigation, conservation and management has failed to effectively reach policy makers, often because of the inability of scientists to communicate it in suitable form.

In Kenya, the Kenya Wetlands Forum (based at the East African Wildlife Society offices), Nature Kenya and other organisations have been actively involved in advocacy for wetlands but  recent petitions against developers in the Tana Delta and other areas could benefit from reliable scientific information on biodiversity values, ecosystem services and the effect the projects would have on local communities.

The high demand for biodiversity information for East African wetlands has necessitated the coalition of wetlands experts to form a team, KENWEB, to provide timely, unbiased and accurate data for purposes of conservation and management of wetlands as socio-ecological landscapes.

The project priority focus is on the coastal Tana River Delta and the inland Loboi Swamp in the Great Rift Valley. This choice was driven by three main reasons:

  • both capture the variety of situations of wetlands in the region;
  • both have experienced major changes in their hydrology and
  • both are currently targeted by development projects that could greatly modify their functioning.

The methods developed for both wetlands will form the basis for studies of other inland and coastal wetlands.

Tana Delta, The Movie

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