Key issues in the governance of linked forest and water resources: Cases from East Africa’s “water towers”

October 12, 2018
12:00 noon, UTC +3Kenya

Esther Mwangi and Douglas Bwire

The Mau forest complex and Mt. Elgon forest (on the border of Kenya and Uganda) are important “water towers” in East Africa. They are the sources of numerous streams and springs that drain into major rivers that eventually drain into lakes and which sustain agriculture, industry, hydro power generation and the overall economy. The Mau forest is the largest indigenous forest in East Africa and the main catchment area for 12 rivers, which drain into four lakes including Lake Victoria, one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. Mt. Elgon forest is an important water catchment for rivers that also drain into Lakes Victoria and Turkana. Despite their importance, these water towers are facing threats such as deforestation, conversion to other land uses, and encroachment of settlements.

CIFORs work in the Mau Complex has shown that the quality and quantity of water in streams and rivers downstream is related to forest health further upstream. Though this biophysical relationship between forest health and water condition is increasingly recognized and acknowledged, there is much less examination of the governance side of it. The question of how to govern such linked resources, how to coordinate across actors and interests to ensure that forests and water are sustainably used and managed, and that their benefits are equitably distributed is still an open one.

This presentation will explore the roles, organization and interactions between community-based institutions for the management of forests (i.e. community forestry associations) and water (i.e. water resource users associations) in 5 sites across the Mau and Mt. Elgon forests in Kenya. In particular, we will analyse some of the enablers and barriers to effective coordination between the CFAs and WRUAs and identify opportunities for strengthening joint forest and water governance.

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Time information

  • 12:00 noon, UTC +3

  • 12:00 noon presenter local time (Kenya)

  • 5:00 AM, moderator time (Amherst, MA, USA)

  • Use this link to calculate your own local time if needed 


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  • Webinar ID:  235 173 206