by Peter Mutai
NAIROBI, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ecosystem is undergoing serious degradation that also threatens the country's economic productivity, a senior official said Thursday.
Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, said deforestation that remains the greatest threat to the country has impacted negatively on the quality and quantity of water flowing downstream.
"We are now enlisting the services of the private sector to help restore the ecosystem and in the process improve economic growth," Wakhungu said during the launch of a partnership for sustainable restoration of Mount Kenya forest ecosystem.
She said that the low economic growth has resulted into budgetary constraint as the country's economy depends on tourism and agriculture that are heavily supported by the natural resources.
Wakhungu noted that the condition has forced the government to allocate little money to environmental conservation programs.
"Climate change and human activities are to blame for the degradation of the water catchment towers," she noted.
Nature Kenya Executive Director Paul Matiku said over the years there has been a decrease in water volume due to forest cover loss in Mount Kenya.
"Hydropower and water abstraction reservoirs have become silted with sediments, significantly raising water treatment costs," Matiku said.
Rapid urban population growth and unprecedented industrial activity have further increased water stress levels.
He called for swift attention to help the ecosystem recover the lost glory, adding that the region provides water to key national parks, generates half of the country's total hydropower, and supplies 95 percent of Nairobi's water.
Financial Director of Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) Kinya Kimotho announced 80,000 U.S. dollars to support the initiative.
The support will go alongside forest restoration and will lead to the planting of over 100,000 trees around Mt. Kenya and Upper Tana River ecosystem in central Kenya that holds one of the key pillars to Kenya's economic development.