Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’
By Trek East Africa Correspondent
A three year funding agreement between the East African Community and the United States Agency for International Development is expected to ensure that the Mara River Basin is properly managed so as to avoid environmental degradation. The Mara River Basin eco system is considered a new wonder of the world.
Under the agreement signed two weeks ago, East Africa Community’s Lake Victoria Basin Commission is expected to implement the Mara River Basins 2009 Bio diversity Action Plan that was recently adopted by the EAC Ministers.
Aimed at addressing threats to bio diversity hotspots in the Mara River Basin, the projects implementation will involve Kenya and Tanzania government agencies where the $3 million grant will be provided under US Aid Africa’s Tran boundary Water for Diversity.
The Mara basin water shed extends from Kenya to northern Tanzania covering areas of Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and also makes up part of the eastern rim of the Lake Victoria basin.
This eco systems survival depends on the flow of the Mara River. With less water flowing in the Mara, there is a possibility of less water to drink for wildlife and this could easily lead to human wildlife conflicts.
Rotich, the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration at the East African Community emphasized the importance of the Mara River Basin eco system. He said the intervention on the Mara River Basin was timely, since environmental issues in particular global climate change are affecting all people.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to convince people about the environmental devastation that is being experienced. Rains are failing, rivers are drying up or getting polluted. We have all contributed to environmental degradation. And now we must do something about it”, he added.
Lake Victoria Basin Commission was established in 2005 as a specialized institution of the East African Community responsible for coordination of activities aimed at sustainable development of the basin.
By Arthur Baguma
The East African Community plans to start a single tourist visa for the region. The member states are discussing a protocol to create and market the region as a single tourist destination. Member states have started to coordinate their policies in the tourism industry and were establishing a frame work that would ensure equitable distribution of resources. In addition the partner states are establishing a common code of conduct for private and public tour and travel operators, standardized hotel classification and professional standards of agents in the industry.
A collective policy for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites in the region is also in pipeline.
“They include harmonizing policies for the conservation of wildlife within and outside protected areas, exchanging information and adopting common policies on wildlife management and development, coordinating efforts in controlling and monitoring encroachment and poaching activities,” information at the EAC states. The policy encourages joint use of training and research facilities and developing common management plans for trans-border protected areas.
These developments are good news to East Africa tourism potential. From some of the world’s finest beaches to unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique Bwindi National Park home to some 340 mountain gorillas, the Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park are also preferred sites for tourists. In Kenya, the magnificent Maasai Mara reserve, among 48 wildlife parks and reserves, including the amazing Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks attract tourists both local and international. In Tanzania, the world famous Ngorongoro crater, the breath taking spectacular Serengeti plains, wildlife conservation areas and Mt. Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain are just the tip of the ice berg of what Tanzania can offer tourists.
Apart from the scenic attractions, East Africa has a lot more to offer. Hotel and beach tourism is at its peak. The region offers a large number of historical sites spread through the region. It boasts of interesting traditional culture, the Makonde sculptures and Akamba wood crafts as well as the Uganda Kingdoms, cultures and tradition. The Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania is the site of discoveries of the traces of early humanity.
There is, however potential for development, expansion and promotion of East African tourism, taking into account on going development of tourism and other potential of the lake Victoria basin. The world’s second largest fresh water body is shared by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The number of tourists to the East African region increased significantly between 1995 and 2002.In Tanzania the number increased from 285,000 to 550,000 while in Uganda it increased from 160,000 to 254,000. In Kenya there was a slight decline from 896,000 to 838,000 but the figures rose to one million in 2003.
Currently the three countries attract more than two million tourists. The figures indicate a vibrant trend of the tourist sector in East Africa. With joint promotion of the industry, tourist visits in East Africa are expected to double in the near future. In 2005, the East African Community countries launched the plan for joint tourism and wildlife development including joint marketing and promotion of East Africa as a single tourist destination.
Starting with the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB), Berlin 2006, the tourist boards of East African countries participate in international trade fairs under one roof, the East African Village exhibition area. On going activities aim at developing both short and long term measures in the joint promotion and marketing of East Africa as a single tourist destination.
The plan and strategy for joint development and promotion of tourism envisages steady growth due to stable political and peaceful conditions prevailing in the region coupled with modernization of infrastructure, transport and communications facilities and links to all parts of the world by major world air lines and ocean cruises.