International RiverFoundation has awarded the 2013 Thiess International Riverprize to the Mara River in Kenya.
The trans-boundary river, which is home to rich biodiversity and sustains the livelihoods of many, is the first in Africa ever to be awarded the prestigious prize in its 15 year history.
With a clear vision and in anticipation of potential conflict arising over scarce water resources, the community based Mara River Water Users Association overcame significant challenges and successfully collaborated with farmers, community groups, NGOs, consultants and many other stakeholders to implement the Mara River Environmental Management Initiative.
Much has been achieved as a result of the Mara River Environmental Management Initiative. Almost 1000 farmers within the basin have been educated and had their farms terraced, a 40km stretch of riverbank has been restored, and 40 springs have also been protected – providing easy access to clean water and reducing water-borne diseases. These on-ground works have been targeted through an integrated program of catchment and river management activities.
The Mara River Water Users Association also now has the opportunity to develop a ‘Twinning’ program – a chance to share their award-winning knowledge in a peer-to-peer relationship with another river basin organisation and share both their successes and challenges.