This is How Nairobi Rivers can be Our Economic Nerve Centre

Do you know what the Nation­al The­atre in Lon­don, the South­bank Cen­ter, the British Film Insti­tute, the Tate Mod­ern Art Muse­um and Shakespeare’s Globe have in com­mon? They are all artis­tic and per­for­mance spaces that are locat­ed with­in Riv­er Thames’ envi­rons in Lon­don. South­bank Cen­ter is the UK’s largest arts cen­ter which hosts at least 3,500 annu­al events.

The river’s nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment lends its mag­ic and seren­i­ty to the area’s‑built envi­ron­ment. In so doing, Riv­er Thames trig­gers an unmatched eco­nom­ic chain reac­tion that has gen­er­at­ed tril­lions of pounds and cre­at­ed mil­lions of jobs for Lon­don City. This, is the pow­er of a riv­er and this, is what our Nairo­bi Rivers can do for Nairo­bi, if we fea­si­bly do the fol­low­ing four things.

First­ly, Nairo­bi res­i­dents must build a strong affec­tion­ate rela­tion­ship with their rivers. Most of Nairobi’s five mil­lion res­i­dents broke up with the rivers a long time ago. They have zero feel­ings for them. They don’t care what hap­pens in or around them, which cre­ates room for exploiters to do what­ev­er they want with our rivers. We need to cher­ish Nairo­bi Rivers. If we do so, we will not con­done any harm to it.

Sec­ond­ly, we need to secure Nairo­bi Rivers ripar­i­an land and pros­e­cute the cor­rupt play­ers who have grabbed land with­in the basins. All across Nairo­bi, from Moun­tain View to Kibra, Nairo­bi West and numer­ous oth­er loca­tions, ripar­i­an land has been grabbed. The land that was grabbed in Moun­tain View is a wet­land that is the source of Rivers Wait­i­ti, Thi­boro and Mach­agucha, trib­u­taries of Nairo­bi Riv­er. Nairo­bi Rivers restora­tion must pri­or­i­tize restora­tion of all trib­u­taries togeth­er with their catch­ment areas. As part of this, all grabbed ripar­i­an land must be reclaimed.

Third­ly, I sug­gest that the recent­ly launched Nairo­bi Riv­er Com­mis­sion must take urgent, deci­sive and strate­gic action. This action must be deci­sive because cor­rup­tion will fight back and besides at the face of the immi­nent reha­bil­i­ta­tion process is the com­mu­ni­ty at the bot­tom of the pyra­mid- the hus­tlers! The Com­mis­sion must also be strate­gic because our Nairo­bi Riv­er basins is so degrad­ed that it will take years of con­sis­ten­cy to restore it. Just like a tree grows, it will not take two years or even one pres­i­den­tial term to design the envis­aged Nairo­bi Rivers. Accord­ing­ly, I sug­gest that the team focuss­es on the big pic­ture even as they move fast to cre­ate a notice­able frame of pos­si­bil­i­ties to attract sup­port from the masses.

Fourth­ly, we need to ensure that Nairo­bi Rivers ripar­i­an com­mu­ni­ties are at the fore­front of its restora­tion. In that cur­rent seem­ing­ly mess of Nairo­bi Rivers exists the liveli­hoods of inno­cent Kenyans. One sure way of doing this, is by attach­ing eco­nom­ic val­ue not just to the rivers restora­tion process, but more to the ulti­mate­ly restored rivers. It was music to our ears when Pres­i­dent Ruto recent­ly announced that the Min­istry of Envi­ron­ment, togeth­er with Nairo­bi Coun­ty Gov­ern­ment will employ 12,770 youth and women to clean up the riv­er and grow trees. The Nairo­bi Rivers Com­mis­sion can pain­less­ly increase tan­gi­ble job oppor­tu­ni­ties to a min­i­mum of 500,000 jobs with­in a year and with­out a sin­gle pen­ny from the Gov­ern­ment. I can clear­ly envi­sion a glimpse of tril­lions worth of mind-bog­gling eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in ten years’ time.

The Euro­pean Cen­ter for Riv­er restora­tion explains that riv­er restora­tion leads to a healthy riv­er ecosys­tem that can boost recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties and increase adja­cent real estate prop­er­ty values.

The need for all to join hands in restor­ing the rivers was under­scored by Makueni Gov­er­nor Mutu­la Kilo­n­zo Jnr when he recent­ly said that “The water that is black in Koro­go­cho is green in Machakos and black in Makueni. The inno­cent peo­ple in Machakos and Makueni are farm­ing and the food comes back to Nairo­bi. We are con­sum­ing poison.”

Indeed, our health and econ­o­my depend on the health of our Rivers and oth­er ecosys­tems. ‘Kazi kwe­tu’. Think green, act green!


About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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