Kenya Wetlands Forum is a multi-institutional stakeholder consortium working to promote wetlands conservation and wise use in Kenya. It provides an institutional framework for participation of all wetlands stakeholders in discussions and activities to save Kenya’s wetlands.
We offer a platform for constructive dialogue and discussion, and sharing of ideas for the conservation and sustainable use of wetland resources in Kenya.
The origins of Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF) can be traced to a series of initiatives on wetlands management and conservation experiences in Kenya over the last two and a half decades.
A workshop on wetlands of Kenya was held at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) in 1990, whose proceedings were published in 1991. Though there was some academic understanding of wetlands then, other sectors had little appreciation of wetlands.
The Kenya Wetlands Working Group (KWWG), a precursor to the Kenya Wetlands Forum, was conceptualized following recommendations made at a workshop on Wetlands and Waterbirds in Eastern Africa held in Uganda in 1990 under the auspices of International Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB) and Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (MUIENR). Its main purpose was to steer debate towards the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in Kenya. KWWG was subsequently formed in January 1991 and existed as a sub-committee of East African Natural History Society (EANHS). In July 1997, the KWWG broke away from the EANHS and was housed at the NMK wetlands programme.
The KWWG in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wetlands programme was equally successful in initiating a project on the inventory of Kenya’s wetlands. This included the development of a comprehensive data sheet for carrying out a national inventory of wetlands in Kenya; inventories were carried out in a number of districts including Kiambu and Uasin Gishu. The working group however, could not undertake a comprehensive inventory of the whole country as planned due to funding and manpower constraints. In July 1997, the KWWG broke away from the EANHS and was housed at the NMK wetlands programme.
In the decade that followed,The World Conservation Union (IUCN), National Museums of Kenya (NMK), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other stakeholders raised awareness on the importance of wetlands and the need for wise use on their own initiative. At the time, there were more than 20 NGOs working on wetlands conservation, and over 300 academic theses had been published, there were also several government agencies with wetland programmes, and some such as the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute (KWSTI) continue to have a wetlands training component to date. Though awareness on the importance of wetlands had increased, wetlands were not accorded the attention that they required within the national planning processes. The collapse of the KWWG in the years that followed was a serious blow to the wetlands conservation cause.
It was out of this reality and understanding that IUCN and KWS called for a consultative meeting on the 6th of February 2002 at IUCN EARO to brainstorm on whether a new platform or discussion group was needed and if so, what its strategic direction would be. All relevant and major wetland sector stakeholders in the country attended this meeting. The meeting endorsed a decision on the formation of a Forum and a multi-sectoral consortium to provide institutional mechanisms for independent discussions and actions for wetland conservation, management and wise use in Kenya. Modalities on how such an entity could be formed and operationalized were discussed leading to the formation of the KWF in the same year. There was apparently a state of inactivity following this meeting which led concerned parties to request the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) to provide and coordinate on an interim basis, the secretariat and the activities of the Forum until such a time that the Forum was capable of independently operating on its own. The EAWLS, a regional organization based in Nairobi agreed to house the secretariat and has continued to do so since. The KWF eventually became fully operational in February of 2005 when it held its first inaugural meeting and currently operates as a sub committee of the EAWLS but with autonomy over its activities, planning and budget.