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Towards A Green Energy In A Green Economy: Kengens Tree Planting Perspectives In The Mau Forest Water Tower, Kenya

Congress: 2015
Author(s): LYDIA GATHUKU (KISUMU, Kenya), LYDIA GATHUKU
KENYA ELECTRICITY GENERATING COMPANY1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 6: Links with the energy, food and environmental sectors,
Abstract LYDIA N.GATHUKU Environment Officer, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN), Western Hydros, P.O Box 875 Kisumu (Code 40100) Kenya Abstract The forestry sector accounts for 1.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The forest sector in the country is faced with many challenges, including deforestation. Soil erosion losses to the economy have been estimated as equivalent to $390 M annually or 3.8% of the GDP. More frequent drought and flood episodes have been linked to deforestation. The Mau Forest water tower in the recent past has been in the limelight with faced with many political and social-economic as well as environmental challenges. The Kenya Vision 2030 on the other hand has provision for a clean, secure and health environment for the Kenyan people. This paper examines the current challenges facing the forest sector in the Mau water tower and the KenGen's investments in tree planting and afforestation initiatives in the same area within the context of the green economy. The green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The KenGen's reforestation program in collaboration with Kenya Forest Service in Mau water tower has contributed a lot to the green economy and this paper will highlight the early success, achievements, impacts and lessons learnt with potential for up scaling in other parts of the country. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) reforestation program in the Mau Water Tower Why Should we be concerned? * Part of KenGen's Environmental policy * Part of KenGen's Corporate Social Responsibility * Effects of deforestation can be costly to KenGen's business Effects of deforestation vs KenGen's business * Silt damages turbines. * It reduces the active storage capacity. * It makes the flood management in the regulatory pond more difficult. * The deforested area cannot hold onto the rain water, which will rush down the river and cause flooding in low places. * Where the river turns, the rush of water could cut into the banks of the river, changing its shape Why the Mau Water Tower? * Important Water Tower-Source of river Sondu which provides water for the hydro electric power generation for Sondu Miriu and Sang'oro hydroelectric Power Stations. * Micro-climate regulation Values: * Major micro climate regulators for crops * Tea growing areas are located near montane forests where conditions for optimum tea production are met:  Constant moisture  Soil temperature between 16-25o C  Air temperature between 10-30oC  The largest tea growing areas in Kenya are near the Mau Water tower in particular South West Mau (Kericho, Tinderet, and Northern Tinderet forests). KenGen's Investment so far... Social afforestation- * This involves communities and institutions near major power installations around the country. * The company has three well-established nurseries in Olkaria, Gitaru and Sondu power plants. * As part of the social responsibility, the company donates tree seedlings for planting every year to communities and institutions. * The seedlings are mainly to be used for the conservation of the Aberdares Lower catchment conservation- * The Company is involved in conservation of lower parts of the catchment areas close to the power installations. * Large areas of land especially in the main hydro stations have been afforested over the years and the activity still continues. * There is also a major afforestation activity going on in the Sondu area mainly around the regulating pond for environmental protection and buffer zone creation. * Support of private tree nurseries-Some support has been provided to women groups in Kipipiri through the provision of materials such as polythene tubes, tools and technical advice for establishment of tree nurseries. The challenge * Monitoring and documenting the impacts of KenGen's social forestry programme considering the fact that there are other players in the Mau water tower, including the government. * Limited resources to support tree planting initiatives hence need for innovating financing. * Balancing between forest conservation and the local community needs vis aviz settlement. Lessons learnt * Active engagement and involvement of the key stakeholders is critical for any meaningful and successful tree planting initiatives. * Need assessment prior to introduction of tree planting initiatives improves social acceptance and adoption rates. * Training and capacity building for the local communities should be integral to the Ken Gen's social forestry programme Meeting the future * Strategic support of tree planting initiatives in line with the KenGen's social forestry programme within the context of the Green Energy perspectives. * Monitoring, documenting and sharing success stories in the Mau region with a view to up-scaling our social forestry programme to other parts of the country. * Innovative financing for sustainable tree planting and forestry initiatives Key Words: Water Tower, KenGen, Green Economy, reforestation, energy
2011 IWRA - International Water Resources Association office@iwra.org - http://www.iwra.org - Admin