Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 15 - Mara Day

"The Mara is one of the critical ecosystems in the Lake Victoria Basin that support sustainable socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation.

Recognising the importance of the Mara ecosystem, the 10th Sectoral Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin, held in Kigali, Rwanda, in May this year declared every 15th September the “Mara Day” to coincide with the great migration of wildlife from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Maasai-Mara National Game Reserve in Kenya.  The celebrations shall be held on an annual rotational basis between Kenya and Tanzania."

This year, the inaugural Mara Day was held in Mulot, Kenya, at the new Resource Center of the Mara River Water Resource User's Association (MRWRUA)The celebrations were organised by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and the County Councils of Bomet, Trans-Mara and Narok in Kenya, and were supported with funding from USAID - East Africa. 

Hundreds Attend First Mara Day Celebrations

I was impressed by the size of the event, with large tents erected, a mobile sound system, stalls set up by local organizations, and hundreds of attendees, including Ministers from Kenya and Tanzania and the Executive Secretary of the LVBC. 

Hundreds of people attending Mara Day in Mulot

The celebrations got underway with a parade through the town of Mulot, followed by singing and dancing performances by school children, representatives from both Maasai and Kalenjin tribes, and a spirited group of elders.

A group of elders performing at Mara Day
Then a number of speeches were given by representatives from WWF, the Nile Basin Initiative, LVBC, local governments and others, culminating with guest of honor, Chair of the East African Community Council of Ministers and Minister for East African Community in the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Musa Sirma.

The theme of the day was "Mara - Uhai Wetu" or "Mara - Our Life." It was really exciting and inspiring to see so many people gathered to celebrate a river and to recognize its central role in supporting life in the basin. Hopefully all of these sentiments will translate into positive action on the ground to support protection of the river and its catchment area.
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