6th Mara Day Celebration - Remarks by Brad Arsenault, Deputy Director for East Africa and Operations, Environment Office, USAID Kenya and East Africa

Friday, September 15, 2017

Good morning.  I am honored to be with you today to celebrate the commendable progress that has been made to protect and conserve the Mara River Basin.

Famous all over the world for its beautiful landscapes and rich biodiversity, the Mara-Serengeti attracts millions of tourists each year between July and October to watch the spectacular wildebeest migration.

Not only does the Mara River need to be protected because of its one-of-a-kind migration phenomenon and natural beauty, but also because the Mara River is critical for people’s livelihoods in Kenya, Tanzania and throughout the entire East African region.

In fact, more than one million people depend on the resources of the Mara River Basin for their livelihoods, including small and large scale farmers, livestock and fisheries production, pastoralists and people living in towns and settlements across the region.

Although the Mara River is a critical resource for East Africa’s economic and social development, its very survival is threatened by unsustainable development patterns and climate change. These threats can only be overcome by working together at both national and regional levels. 

But know you know that. The Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between Kenya and Tanzania during the 4th Mara Day held in 2014 in Butiama, Tanzania, is the only document of its kind in the region. 

The memorandum lays out a framework for how the two countries will work together to jointly manage the resources of the Mara River Basin.  The governments of Kenya and the United Republic Tanzania deserve credit for their unwavering commitment to the conservation of the Mara River Basin’s precious resources.

I also congratulate the East African Community and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission for taking a strong leadership role in supporting the effective management of East Africa’s transboundary natural resources. Today we are celebrating the spirit of working together toward a common goal.

USAID is proud to have partnered with you every step of the way and we will continue to support broad stakeholder engagement from governments to inter-governmental organizations, from non-governmental and community-based organizations to the private sector. 

Through our new five-year regional strategy, we will continue to deepen our longstanding partnerships with the East African Community and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission.  The strategy affirms our commitment to East African-led economic growth that is both sustainable in its management of natural resources across national borders as well as resilient in the face of climatic changes.

It is our hope that the East African Community and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission take the best practices from this memorandum to other critical ecosystems throughout the region.

As you know, it is our collective responsibility to protect and conserve the Mara River Basin ecosystem as a jewel in East Africa’s crown of prosperity. I am confident that we will have many more achievements to celebrate during future Mara Days if we continue to work together in the spirit of bilateral cooperation and regional integration.

Asanteni Sana.

Tarime District, Tanzania
Issuing Country