December 14th 2017

Society / Environment

Kitui County turns to bamboo in effort to conserve soils and water catchments

The scientist also addressed concerns farmers had about the eucalyptus tree. “Eucalyptus requires swampy places because it requires a lot of water,” he said, adding that the droughts and ants are its main destroyers.

By Boniface Mulubmulu@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 10 Nov 2016 09:35 EAT

A bamboo plant.

Protecting the siltation of dams, rivers and streams is the biggest environmental challenge facing the Kitui County government. The assistant director for environment in the county, Dominic Mutisya Mumbu, has said that Kitui will promote the planting of bamboo trees to curb soil erosion. “The aim of that project is to control the soil erosion for the good of protecting the Matinga Dam, and other dams and rivers and streams from siltation,” the officer said. The Matinga Dam, located in Kivani Location of Kitui West District, was constructed by the colonial administration in 1955. It has been completely silted over the years. 

Speaking at the Kathangathini Shopping Centre during an environmental education day for conservation groups members from Mutonguni Location, Kitui West District, yesterday, Mr Mumbu thanked the residents for taking up bamboo planting and conserving the environment. “The Mutonguni residents are the ones leading in bamboo planting and conservation in Kitui County,” the director said.

He announced that the county government in partnership with the Anglican Development Services Eastern are currently constructing the Kwa Mboo Sub-surface Dam in Yatta Location, Lower Yatta District at a cost of Sh4.5 million. The director was accompanied by officials Marian Nduku John, Mirian Muli and Winfred Mwende from his office, and they provided the groups with 2,000 bamboo cuttings together with another 2,000 indigenous trees seedlings to plant.

The education day was organised jointly by the Kitui County Environment, Energy and Minerals Investment Development Ministry in conjunction with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). Mr Bernard K. Kigwa, an official from KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre, said that the bamboo is not a tree: “It is a grass, and it is special because it has so many uses including as human food, fodder and for making furniture and for construction.”

Mr Kigwa said that the bamboo is widely used for construction in countries like China and Japan, and was known the world over for water stabilisation and conservation. He said that the bamboo matures  in 3-5 years if well taken care of. The expert said that the bamboo is very expensive and he therefore thanked the Kitui County government for buying it for local conservation groups for planting.

Mr Kigwa said that the KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre is currently running a Melia volkensii tree grafting project for the good of propagating the tree in the region. The scientist also addressed concerns farmers had about the eucalyptus tree. “Eucalyptus requires swampy places because it requires a lot of water,” he said, adding that the droughts and ants are its main destroyers.

On cypress, he said the species grows very well at the Museve Hills in Kitui Central Division. He added that pine grows very well at the Kasyala Hills also in Kitui Central Division. The area (Mutonguni Ward) Member of County Assembly Stephen Mwendwa Kithuka thanked the Kitui County government for its commitment and efforts towards conserving the environment in his ward.

And in his speech, the Kitui West District Agricultural Officer, Festus Muthui Muatha, said that the impact of soil erosion by rains in the entire district is extremely high. And he therefore called upon the locals to plant either grass or sorghum on their farms  because they (the grass and sorghum) control the soil erosion.

Boniface is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Kitui County





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