Local community prized for work in Mara river basin
The association, which also assists relevant authorities with water resources management, issuance of water use permits and water conflict resolution, was one of the 25 winners selected out of nearly 300 finalists from 66 different countries for their work to reduce poverty through the conservation of biodiversity.
The Mara River runs through Kenya and Tanzania and is a vital source of water for the region. People living along the river and its basin area are increasingly facing water shortages, poor water quality and environmental degradation as a result of pollution, agricultural runoff, large-scale irrigation projects, and mining and other industrial activities.
"I am extremely honoured our association has attained an international award. All this would not have been possible without WWF’s efforts to mentor and guide us," said Mr. Joseph Kones, Secretary to the Mara River Water User’s Association.
In 2005, WWF facilitated the establishment of Mara River Water Users Association in Kenya. The association was formed under Water Act (2005) of Kenya that sanctions local dialogue and management of water resources. Other partners are Water Resources Management Authority, National Environmental Management Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The 2010 Equator Award is fitting recognition of 5 years of hard work, relentless devotion and commitment by the association and WWF to the conservation of freshwater resources in the Mara River Basin,” said Ms. Doris Ombara, Project Manager for WWF’s Mara River Basin Initiative.
Through technical and institutional support, WWF has over the years built the association’s capacity. The association has therefore become a major contributor to the broader agenda surrounding integrated water resources management in the Mara River Basin. By supporting, leveraging and enabling such institutions, WWF is confident of good and sustainable approaches that benefit conservation, improve livelihoods of local communities, and foster peace through resolution of water conflicts.
According to a letter from the Equator Initiative, the association “joins an elite group of influential grassroots movement of local and indigenous best practice in biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.”
The Mara River Water User’s Association now also stands a chance to become one of five communities to receive a special recognition prize US$15,000, adding to the US$5,000 already won.
This is yet another major win for community organizations that are now taking lead in environmental conservation. In May 2010, two water resource users’ associations supported by WWF and Care Kenya in Naivasha Kenya were paid over US$10,000 for their work to sustain water flows in rivers within the Lake Naivasha catchment.