Ondiri shines again during World Wetlands Day
Ondiri wetland in Kenya will host the official national World Wetlands Day
celebration on the 2nd of February. This news was received with much joy by the residents of Kikuyu Town and conservationists. For many years, Ondiri Wetland was
polluted and degraded, especially due to encroachment and greenhouse farming. But thanks to sustained and concerted efforts by the residents together with a broad range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, the conservation of this critical wetland is now being secured. Violet Matiru from Kenyan organisation Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI), finds it a great honor that Ondiri was selected for the celebrations. "The cherry on the pie!"
Once you realise that 80% of Kenya is classified as arid/ semi-arid, you understand the
importance of Ondiri wetland, which is the source of Nairobi River – a tributary of Kenya's second largest river: the Athi River. "According to the elders, Ondiri was once an open lake, which the locals called Kîhenia ("Shining") because it would shine from afar", says Violet. "Now, the wetland has a floating mass of peat on which plant species grow that have adopted to wetland conditions. It provides an important carbon storage, because peatlands store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests, while they only cover 3% of the planet's surface."
Besides its carbon storage, the wetland is home to numerous birds, which are returning now that the wetland is being restored. More than 300,000 residents of Kikuyu Town rely on water from the wetland, which also recharges up to 40 springs. Violet: "Even the official residence of the President of Kenya relies on this source of water." But over the years, Ondiri shrank in size and depth as it was being over-abstracted and polluted by greenhouse farming, planting of non- native, high water-consuming Eucalyptus trees, and residential waste.
The efforts to conserve Ondiri already date back to 2008, when Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI) requested the Water Resources Management Authority to help the residents surrounding Ondiri in establishing a Water Resources Users Association (WRUA). Violet: "It took quite some effort, but after numerous training and sensitisation sessions, the Ondiri, Nyongara, Kabuthi and Rungiri (ONKARU) WRUA was registered. Unfortunately, the WRUA struggled to implement its mandate due to limited funding, so concerned residents started doing community work for the conservation of the area."
These community-based initiatives – notably Friends of Ondiri Wetlands Kenya (FOWK) –proved to be very valuable for awareness-raising and mobilising people for
the conservation of the wetland. But members of the community groups realised that more coordination and collaboration through ONKARU WRUA would offer an opportunity for realising their shared goals more effectively, because it is recognised by the Kenyan government as an official institution for the management of the local water resources. Hence, FOWK organised workshops with stakeholders in the area and MCDI invited a representative of the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) and Ms Kiruri of the Water Resources Authority, who encouraged the residents to become a member of the WRUA so that they could effectively collaborate with the Water Resources Authority to conserve the wetland.
"This was the push that was needed", says Violet. "As a result, the various groups surrounding Ondiri are now coordinating and collaborating for the conservation of the wetlands. And the commitment of the residents to stop the continued degradation of Ondiri Wetland has borne fruits, resulting in not only its recognition by key national and country government agencies but also their support. The Kenya Forestry Research Institute for example, provided technical information on the species of trees that were suitable to plant around the wetland. And, more recently, the Water Resource Authority acted upon the concerns of the residents and placed a perimeter fence around the wetland. Also, the National Environment Management Authority recently installed an Eco-Toilet near the wetland, to serve the growing number of bird watchers and nature lovers who come to enjoy the nature trail." Through collaboration with Nature Kenya, already more than 100 bird species have been identified at the Wetland. More studies of the wetland will be undertaken, including hydrological studies to get a better understanding of the Ondiri wetland so as to further promote its protection and rehabilitation.
Ondiri Wetland in the spotlight
On February 2nd 2022, all eyes shall be on Ondiri Wetland where people will gather to
celebrate the result of the concerted efforts of a broad range of agencies and concerned citizens. The theme of the celebration will be "Wetlands Action for People and Nature". Violet: "We will show videos about the journey to conserve Ondiri Wetland and other sub-catchments within the Athi River, and we will serve organic foods grown by communities living around the Ondiri Wetland. I'm very much looking forward to it. It's unfortunate that Both ENDS cannot be present, as Both ENDS' support for networking and capacity building has been key. It provided opportunities for concerned residents and conservation-minded individuals to learn more about the relevant policies and laws that promote conservation and also to establish linkages with each other for solidarity and collective action."
Update January 10: Check out the video below made of the event for the World Wetlands Day on Wednesday 2nd February 2022.
For more information
Read more about this subject
News / 26 July 2021
Both ENDS, together with nine other parties has expressed their concern on the development of a new airport off the coast in Manila Bay, Philippines, where the Dutch company Royal Boskalis Westminster has been contracted for the land development. In a joint letter of concern, different organisations and stakeholders describe the alarming situation around this contested airport that will be built on newly reclaimed land.
A Negotiated Approach envisages the meaningful and long-term participation of communities in all aspects of managing the water and other natural resources on which their lives depend. It seeks to achieve healthy ecosystems and equitable sharing of benefits among all stakeholders within a river basin. This inclusive way of working is an essential precondition for the Transformative Practices that are promoted by Both ENDS and partners.
News / 22 March 2021
An increasing number of stakeholders in the Dutch water sector are acknowledging the importance of an inclusive approach to climate adaptation. However, where our knowledge institutes and companies are involved in delta plans and master plans, as in Bangladesh and the Philippines, this approach is proving difficult to apply in practice. Taking local realities, vulnerabilities and inequalities – such as those between men and women – as a starting point is essential for good plans that give everyone the opportunity to adapt to climate change.
News / 13 August 2021
The situation in the southwest delta of Bangladesh is critical. Because of sea level rise, floods are increasing and the area is about to become uninhabitable, despite Dutch-style dikes and polders built in the previous century. Partner organisation Uttaran works with local communities on climate-friendly solutions that restore the living environment and give the inhabitants a say about their future and food production.
News / 4 July 2019
Tidal rivers in the southwest coastal area of Bangladesh have been dying since flood plains were replaced by Dutch-style polders in the 70s. Rivers are silted up, and during monsoon season water gets trapped within embankments. Every year, this situation of waterlogging inflicts adverse consequences particularly on women, as they take care of the household in waterlogged conditions in the absence of men who travel to the city in search of temporary work. NGO Uttaran is advocating for a change in policy and practice.
Publication / 21 March 2023
News / 22 March 2022
These past weeks we have been joining the #WeWomenAreWater campaign to put the spotlights on just climate solutions of and for women, girls, trans, intersex and non-binary people around the world. The campaign started on International Women's Day (March 8th) and ends today, on World Water Day. Just climate solutions already exist but these initiatives are grossly underfunded, and the people implementing them are also those most impacted by climate change and climate-related water scarcity. Therefore, we would like to highlight, especially today on World Water Day, some of these solutions below. And we also have a special message from the colleagues at Both ENDS working on inclusive water governance.
Blog / 2 February 2019
Last week Mark Rutte met with Ban Ki Moon, Bill Gates and World Bank Director Kristalina Georgieva in Davos. They are the chairpersons of the Global Commission on Adaptation, which was also founded by the Netherlands. This is an important organisation because, as Rutte wrote on Twitter, "climate change is the biggest challenge of this century," and as an international community we should "pay attention to the problems of the countries that are being threatened by climate change."
Video / 8 November 2019
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.
News / 3 July 2019
Through pollution and water scarcity, communities along the Kenyan Athi River have learnt the hard way that upstream and downstream communities are inevitably connected. In response to indiscriminate impacts on the environment and people's livelihoods, civil society organisations within the Athi River Basin formed the Athi River Community Network (ARCN).
News / 2 July 2019
The water quality of East Java's largest river, the Brantas River, is increasingly deteriorating due to a combination of industrial and household waste. This environmental pollution has a disproportionate impact on women. Yet, their participation in decision-making remains lacking. ECOTON is working to improve the situation.
All around the world small-scale farmers are using sustainable and inclusive methods to produce food. Working together with nature and each other, they provide their families and communities with sufficient and healthy food. But their production methods are under pressure from large-scale agriculture and the globally dominant system of industrial food production. Together with our partners, Both ENDS is trying to turn the tide in favour of sustainable, local practices that are mostly known as 'agro-ecological' or 'nature-inclusive'. Why are we focusing on these methods? Agro-ecological practices are climate-proof and inclusive and increase the opportunities for communities around the world to produce their food sustainably.
News / 19 August 2021
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
News / 14 June 2021
In Manila Bay, a vulnerable coastal area next to the Philippine capital city, a new airport is being planned, with involvement of the Dutch water sector. Local civil society organisations raised their concerns about this airport, which has large impact on the lives of local residents and on the ecosystem.
Event / 23 August 2021, 13:00 - 14:00
What do we mean when we say the 'politics of water'? How are the distribution of water and the access to water influenced by political-economic interests? And who has the power to reverse the flow and change tides?
News / 21 March 2023
Water is literally life, the lifeblood of ecosystems, of nature, of humans. However, in many places the distribution and use of water is unjust and unsustainable. Water management is generally focused on short-term economic interests, on maximizing the profit of a well-connected few at the expense of people and nature. This dominant view of water and water management has its origins in the European industrial revolution, which became the global norm through colonialism and globalization. But according to Melvin van der Veen and Murtah Shannon, water experts at Both ENDS, this view will have to give way to equitable, sustainable and inclusive water management. Both ENDS cooperates with and supports communities and organisations worldwide who are working to this end.
News / 10 August 2021
As a response to the latest IPCC report, the directors of IUCN NL, Tropenbos International, Wetlands International, Both ENDS and the Institute for Environmental Security wrote an op-ed about the role nature policy can and should play in stopping climate change, which was published in Dutch in De Volkskrant of August 10, 2021. Below, you find the English translation of the article.
Press release / 6 May 2019
Almost 100 candidate EU Members of Parliament have signed a pledge drafted and endorsed by European NGOs and prominent individuals in which they commit - once elected - to promoting policies to protect and restore forests worldwide and to recognising and securing forest peoples’ territories and their rights, including the rights of women, for generations to come. The organisers hope to get many more signatures before the EU elections, to make sure the new EU parliament will start treating these topics with high urgency as soon as it is installed.
Publication / 19 April 2016
External link / 19 June 2020
Tidal River Management (TRM) is based on age-old community practices. In 2019, Uttaran helped ensure that TRM was seen by policymakers as a solution to waterlogging in the delta of Bangladesh, and that the voices of women and youth were being taken into account.