The community living within the proposed UNESCO Global Geopark have identified over 90 potential geosites within the area. This is a move that takes Kenya a step closer to the establishment and the accreditation of Kenya’s pioneer UNESCO Geopark which will be Africa’s 3rd Geopark.
The stakeholders drawn from the local community, county and national government, conservationists and the civil society came up with the lists of the proposed geosites during a one-day geopark stakeholders’ consultative forum which was held on 24th October, 2018 at the Kenya School of Government, Baringo County. The aims of the forum were: undertaking stakeholder mapping; sensitization on the nomination process; goals and benefits of establishing a geopark; identification of potential sites; and agreeing on the road map. Experts presented talks on the role of culture in the geopark process, the geological diversity, paleontological studies, hydrological aspects of the Great Rift Valley and the various geological formations that make these sites as potential for geopark listing.
This interactive workshop was officially opened by the Deputy Governor, Baringo County. In his remarks, H.E Jacob Kurui Chepkwony thanked the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) for debunking the nomination process to stakeholders and providing them with an avenue to discuss the expected benefits to communities and the nation. He noted that Baringo County and generally the Great Rift Valley had a rich geological, natural and cultural heritage, which through the Geopark inscription, has the potential to turn around the fortunes of the members of the community. He acknowledged that the initiative would contribute towards the achievement of Kenya’s Big Four Agenda, Vision 2030 and the Global Sustainable Development Goals.
The workshop was also attended by Hon. Scola Jepkesei Kimeli, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Environment, Natural Resources, Tourism and Wildlife Management, Baringo County; Hon. Abraham Barsosio, (CECM) for Land, Water, Environment and Natural Resources, Elgeyo Marakwet County; and other senior County Government Officials from Baringo County and Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA).
The geopark process is a bottom-up approach and therefore the engagement of the local community, local and global partners, development of appropriate infrastructure and demonstration of the contribution of the geoparks to local livelihoods, are a prerequisite. This aspect was emphasized by KNATCOM’s Dr. Jaro Arero, the Director-Natural Sciences programme.
Hon. Scola Jepkesei Kimeli informed participants that the designation of the geoparks is an activity that was captured in the County Integrated Development Plan. She observed that the level of awareness had been raised and a road map developed which had encouraged the local community to pledge support to KNATCOM and other partners involved in the process.
On the second day, the inaugural National Geopark Committee meeting was held during which the committee members reviewed the Terms of Reference of the Committee, prioritized sites for the planned ground-truthing and mapping exercise and agreed on the road map including mobilization of resources during the preparation of the nomination dossier and recommending the fast tracking of the process of constituting the Local Management Committee.