The government will on Wednesday commission the Nairobi Rivers Commission at Korogocho, marking a high-level intervention from the Kenya Kwanza Administration to rehabilitate the Nairobi River and other rivers in the city.

President William Ruto in December last year appointed Dr. Pamela Olet to Chair the Commission whose other members include renowned environmentalist Elizabeth Waithuti, academician Dr. Duncan Ojwang, Eva Muhia representing riverine communities, Carlota Dal Lago who will hold brief for the private sector and Elijah Biama.

Subsequent to the appointment, President Ruto, through Executive Order Number 1 of 2023, placed Nairobi Rivers Commission under the Office of the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

The  appointment of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu to the Commission was last week halted by the High Court until the case filed to quash his appointment is fully heard and determined.

The Deputy President is tasked with overseeing functioning of the Commission for delivery on its mandate.

Among other functions, the Commission is expected to spearhead activities of stopping pollution, cleaning all rivers and rehabilitating the surrounding environment and establishing livelihood projects.

This will be informed by a review of past reports of projects by State and non-State actors for good practices.

This is move is a boost for community based organisations and other entities which have been cleaning the rivers.

Fredrick Okinda, the Chief Executive Officer of Combgreen Solutions, a community-based organization that has been cleaning Nairobi River since 2017, said the entry of the Deputy President will provide leadership in decisions.

He said Gachagua will be instrumental in making key lasting decisions like establishment of proper sewerage, taking measures to stop building on the riparian lands, among others.

Korogocho Chief Nahashon Opiyo said the community has been making efforts in rehabilitating the river, but it has been unsustainable.

“We need to join efforts to reclaim the river. Groups have planted trees. But they have no tools. They remove the waste with bear hands. The Commission is a major breakthrough,” he said.

Felistus Lebule, a resident of Korogocho said ongoing efforts have been fruitful and political goodwill from the government will be key to sustainability.

“Involvement of the community will be essential in the clean-up of the Nairobi River. They will be sensitized and involved in monitoring against dumping of waste in the river through the Nyumba Kumi,” she said.

Apart from Nairobi River, others to be rehabilitated are Ngong and Mbagathi Rivers, among others.

The Commission will complement ongoing initiatives including the Nairobi River Basin Project, Adopt-A-River Initiative, Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative and Urban Rivers Regeneration Programme.

While incorporating the Nairobi City County, other non-State actors like the World Resources Institute have expressed interest in providing technical and financial support to the clean-up.

By Fred Azelwa.