Nairobi… a place of cool waters. To others, it is a nightmare. Nonetheless it is the capital of Kenya with a serene national park, beautiful hotels and stunning architecture. However, water shortage is ailing Nairobi. There is a supply of 505,000 cubic meters against a demand of 760,000 cubic meters. Reports have indicated that the problem will persist up to 2026. Climate change, deforestation in major water catchment areas among others have been attributed as the main causes of the problem. Many initiatives have been undertaken to deal with this problem. They include: construction of northern water tunnel project and the sinking of boreholes to deal with the water problems.
However, this begs a question: are these projects sustainable given that the encroachment of water sources of these projects ? There has been a high rate of deforestation in these water catchment areas. This means that these dams would soon dry up if water sources do not keep up with the demand. And is there a way we can make sure that these sources are able to keep up with the increasing demand for water. This brings us to the concept of payment for ecosystems service.
What is an ecosystem?
According to the Collins Dictionary, an ecosystem is all the plants and animals that live in a particular area together with the complex relationship between them and their environment.
What are ecosystem services?
It is the direct and indirect contribution of ecosystems to human well-being. They support directly or indirectly our survival and quality of life. They include control of flooding by forests and water purification.
What is payment for ecosystem services?(PES)
According to the UNDP, this occurs when a beneficiary or use of an ecosystem services makes direct or indirect payment to the provider of such services.
people are paid for providing services that are of important to an ecosystem
Therefore, simplifying all these jargon, it means that people are paid for providing services that are of important to an ecosystem. Such as landowners being paid for planting trees. Other countries have employed this where landowners either plant trees or promote water purification and are paid.
Has PES been employed anywhere else?
To begin with, in Costa Rica, the government pays those who plant and protect trees for carbon fixation, watershed protection, biodiversity conservation and scenic beauty. The payment takes the form of tax incentives that take the form of a certificate. Those who buy the certificates receive bonds that could be traded and used to pay taxes. The landowner has to plant trees before applying for the certificate. This program has 7,000 beneficiaries. As a result of this, a country that was once suffering from the effects of deforestation is now swathed in green.
In New York, the government developed the watershed agricultural program where farmers would be paid for water purification in the Catskill Mountains. In this, instead of investing US$ 6-8 billion in a water filtration program, the city authorities otherwise invested in proper land use which costed them US$ 1.5 billion. This program works through providing technical assistance to farmers who chose to take part in this program. The council also helps farmers to find the potential sources of pollution on the farm and deal with them. As a result of this,New York gets more than 1.1 billion gallons of water daily.
These projects have been a success. They have ensured that there is a clean and healthy environment as well as adequate supply for water. As noted earlier, the supply of water is low and the demand is high. According to the United Nations, 68% of the population will be living in cities by 2050. This means that the demand for water will soar. As seen in this decade, due to climate change, there has been unpredictable weather patterns. As a result, rains will not really help in ensuring that water levels in dams will be sustainable.
Consequently, PES will come a long way in ensuring that there is no crisis. First, by providing incentives for communities that live around water catchment areas to protect them, this will make sure that there is adequate supply of water. Secondly, by providing incentives to land owners to plant trees, this will go a long way to make sure that Kenya achieves the 10% forest cover. It will also make sure that there is serenity, carbon fixation among others.
PES will also help in dealing with the Mara River problem. There has been reports that the Mara is drying up and soon we might not have the wildebeest migration. Well, the Mara situation is a bit complex since it involves allegedly illegal land allocations. Notwithstanding that, giving incentives to communities that dwell in this region to plant trees will make certain that water levels in the Mara soar. Due to this, this wonder will not fade and Kenya will continue receiving foreign exchange.
if the sources are not well taken care of, we will continue dancing to the tune of lower dam levels and water rationing
The efforts by the County government of Nairobi and the national government are plausible. However, if the sources are not well taken care of, we will continue dancing to the tune of lower dam levels and water rationing, which sucks anyway. By promoting conservation of water catchment areas, this will supplement the dams and make sure that there is adequate and clean water.
PES will promote the right to clean and healthy environment,ensure adequate supply of water and will give a mechanism for cooperation between the state and its citizens…
The Constitution recognizes every person’s right to a clean and healthy environment. It also recognizes the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities. Moreover it places an obligation on every person to cooperate with the state and other organs to protect and conserve the environment. PES will promote the right to clean and healthy environment,ensure adequate supply of water and will give a mechanism for cooperation between the state and its citizens in ensuring the right to a clean and healthy environment.
Anyway, who wants to live in a city where there is no water?