National Museums of Kenya


Speech for the launch of

Wetlands Biodiversity Monitoring Scheme for Eastern Africa




National Museums of Kenya Headquarters

18 November 2003

Our chief guest, Honourable Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife, Prof. Wangari Maathai, your Excellency High Commissioners and Ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.


I feel greatly honoured to welcome you all to the National Museums of Kenya for this auspicious occasion.


Ladies and Gentlemen:

The National Museums of Kenya is a complex organization with diverse resources and activities. It is an important center for conservation, education, curation and research in Africa, and a leading research institution in our country. For over 90 years, we have contributed to scientific advancement through research, publications, and forum for international scientific collaboration.


Kenya is very rich in biodiversity, both flora and fauna. In particular, the country has one of the highest bird species diversity (over 1,081) in this part of Africa. Our institution has been at the forefront in conducting targeted ornithological and other biodiversity research. We always aim at providing adequate information to guide our policy makers in management of biodiversity. To achieve this objective, we collaborate with a number of local, regional and international institutions.


One of the key habitats that our institution has prioritized for research are wetlands. Wetlands cover about 14,000 km˛ (4%) of Kenya’s surface area, and are very rich in biodiversity. However, wetlands are among the most threatened habitats in the country. This therefore calls for our total commitment as a leading research institution in this country to enhance our efforts in wetlands research with the aim of providing adequate information to guide our policy makers on wetlands conservation.



Ladies and Gentlemen:

Since 1990, the National Museums of Kenya through its Department of Ornithology in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service, local and international non-governmental organizations initiated a coordinated monitoring programme of Kenya’s wetlands through annual waterbird counts each January. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention) to which Kenya is a signatory recognizes birds as key indicators of the environmental health of the wetlands.


The monitoring programme has continued uninterrupted and has become part of the Africa Waterbird Census programme coordinated by Wetlands International. Key wetland sites (listed Ramsar and potential Ramsar sites) in the country have been monitored regularly for their waterbird populations. We have also continued to play key roles in other activities of the Wetlands International in Africa.


As part of our output in the wetlands monitoring programme in Kenya, we have contributed valuable information for the listing of four sites (Lakes Nakuru, Naivasha, Bogoria and Baringo) in Kenya under the Ramsar Convention. In addition, we have provided information that has enabled Kenya ratify the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Our institution will endeavor to assist the Kenya Government fulfill its obligations under Ramsar, African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). We shall continue to undertake targeted research to provide adequate information to our government, wildlife management authorities and other conservation agencies in Kenya. We shall collaborate with all institutions in eastern Africa under the agreement, and offer the required support within our capacity.



Ladies and Gentlemen:

Our institution has successfully hosted a number of regional initiatives in Africa such as AFRICOM, Regional Programme for Sustainable Use of Dryland Biodiversity (RPSUD) among others.


In addition, we have continued to offer our human resources in other key areas of research, conservation, curation and education at regional and international levels.


Hosting the Wetlands Biodiversity Monitoring Scheme (WBMS) provides an opportunity for our continued commitment and support to regional conservation and research initiatives.


“The previous speakers have given the overview of the Wetlands Biodiversity Monitoring Scheme. I would however, mention briefly about the scheme”


Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Wetlands Biodiversity Monitoring Scheme is unique to the eastern Africa region. It is the first such scheme focusing on wetlands biodiversity monitoring in this part of Africa. It therefore provides us with an opportunity to strengthen and underscore our commitments to wetlands biodiversity monitoring as a region.


The National Museums of Kenya feels greatly honoured to be the host institution for this regional initiative. We shall provide adequate support to the project officer we host and play our role most effectively in the steering committee for the scheme. We shall endeavor to provide the necessary support to the scheme by liaising with the local and regional institutions for its success.


I urge all the participating organizations (in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania) to feel at home and enjoy the facilities the National Museums of Kenya provides.


I have the pleasure now to officially invite our chief guest, Honourable Assistant Minister to address and officially launch the scheme.