• Home Home

Government faces opposition over plans to build road through critical water system — can balanced progress be achieved?

Open-minded dialogue and cooperation among vested parties are vital for optimal solutions.

Open-minded dialogue and cooperation among vested parties are vital for optimal solutions.

Photo Credit: iStock

Kenyan officials are looking to make travel easier between neighboring counties, but the voices of scientists have given them pause.

What's happening?

The Kenyan government wants to construct a 32-mile tarmac road connecting Nyeri and Nyandarua counties, the Associated Press reported.

The proposed route would cut through 15 miles of the biodiverse Aberdare Range's cloud forest and moorland ecosystems — a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate boasting endangered wildlife such as mountain bongos and African cherry trees. It's also home to one of Kenya's main water systems.

On the positive side, the route would improve trade on both sides of the Aberdare Range. Kenya's van drivers are especially excited for their livelihoods to improve.

"We feel very happy, and we thank the country's leaders for coming together and deciding to open this road," driver Patrick Maina said.

Why does the Aberdare Range matter?

The Aberdare Range provides over half the water consumed in Nairobi and helps power Kenya's electricity as one of five major "water towers."

Preserving this ecosystem preserves human health and welfare. Its tourism also employs hundreds of thousands of people. Yet many farmers eagerly await an easier route to transport goods to Nyeri's bustling markets.

Balancing these interests is difficult but vital. While residents welcome the business opportunities new infrastructure may bring, the country's environmental agency, the National Environment Management Authority, warns that such roads have irreversibly harmed similar ecosystems by deforestation and increasing traffic in animal paths.

"This is the one road that a lot of people that come here to see the wildlife will take," Isabelle Aron, a tourist visiting the park, told the AP. "Turning that into commercial is going to be taking away from why people come to the Aberdares."

Still, President William Ruto insists construction should proceed immediately, calling objections "frustrating."

What can be done to protect the Aberdare Range?

If road construction proceeds, strict mitigation measures must be enforced, including elevated wildlife crossings and barriers limiting off-road access. Most importantly, open-minded dialogue and cooperation among vested parties are vital for optimal solutions.

We all share an interest in balanced progress. Citizens can advocate for environmental impact policies that benefit communities long-term and take small daily actions such as conserving water. Leaders willing to have thoughtful discussions while safeguarding the Aberdares can pave the way to prosperity for both Kenya's economy and irreplaceable natural heritage.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider