Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mara Day 2013

Happy Mara Day! Last year the East African Community began the annual tradition of having an official day to celebrate the Mara River Basin and work towards its conservation and sustainable use. The first Mara Day was held last year at the Mara River Water Users Association in Mulot, Kenya. This year, the celebrations were held in Mugumu, Tanzania, on the border of the Serengeti National Park.


This is a truly incredible event, as thousands of people come from all over the Mara basin to spend several days celebrating a river basin and talking about how they are working to conserve the remarkable natural resources the Mara provides. The celebrations went on for three days, including a research conference, tree planting events, bicycle race and the focal celebrations today.

It's difficult to describe the scale of this event. In a large fairground on the edge of town, there were rows and rows of tents. In the center was a large tent where the dignitaries sat and gave speeches. In front of them was a large open space for dancing and theatrical performances by community and school groups. In a large row surrounding this area were tents where a huge range of government, NGO and community groups from the basin presented on their work. And behind that was a huge row of tents housing small restaurants and bars serving freshly prepared food and cold drinks. Here's a great 360 degree shot Chris captured of the event.


Local government and community groups had developed a wide range of displays, including a miniature-scale version of the Mara River, complete with crossing wildebeest and feasting crocodiles.


There were a number of groups showcasing artistic work they are doing to support livelihoods that don't cause destruction of natural resources.


And our colleagues from WWF and the Mara River Water Users Association were there, talking about their work developing water users groups that promote grassroots water resources management.


We have been so excited about attending this event, as it's a great opportunity to celebrate the Mara River and to see colleagues from all over the Mara working on different aspects of conservation. Congratulations to the EAC, USAID (who provided the funding) and all the folks who worked so hard to host such a wonderful event!
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