Baringo County is set to host a global geopark, the second in Africa after Morocco and the first in sub-Saharan Africa.
A geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance. It uses its rich history to promote awareness on key issues facing society.
Kenya National Commission of Unesco chairperson Rashid Aman said the county’s ecosystem, with breathtaking scenery, qualifies for the accolade because it has all the features needed to be a Unesco geopark.
“For an area to become a geopark, it must have geological features of universal importance,” said Dr Aman at Kapsoi Primary School in Baringo South last week during celebrations to mark the International Day of Peace.
He said the event, set to take place later this year, will involve five counties in the North Rift which fall under the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb).
“Mountains, rocks and other geographical features make Baringo the best to be listed as a geopark. The fact that the county is in the Rift Valley, a geological feature, is an added advantage,” he said.
However, Dr Aman cited insecurity as a major threat to development of the resource-rich region and called on leaders to help in uniting warring communities.
He said Africa has had its fair share of insecurity, resulting in human suffering, poverty, inequality and economic stagnation.
“Children and education systems are often on the front line of these violent conflicts. It is sad that Africa has the majority of children who are out of school. The main cause of this is inter-community conflicts and wars,” said Dr Aman.
Counties under Noreb include Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Samburu, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot. They are all upbeat about implementing key development projects in the region amounting to more than Sh300 billion.
The projects are in agriculture, water, energy, tourism and infrastructure sectors which are expected to turn around the region’s economy.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said they have already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and developed legal instruments to implement the bloc’s objectives.
In 2013, Unesco listed Lake Bogoria as a world heritage site, boosting the region’s marketing status and opening up the area to the world.
Baringo County Governor Stanley Kiptis welcomed plans to host the prestigious global geopark.
He said the county government has re-organised the tourism sector under one name: Baringo County Reserves, in a bid to market the area.
Mr Kiptis said that besides Lake Bogoria, which has more than 200 hot springs, the devolved unit has discovered other springs in Kerio Valley, Kabartonjo, Eldama-Ravine and parts of Tiaty sub-county.
He said that apart from the hot springs, they have discovered other hidden treasures in the area, including caves in Kabarnet, Kapkut, Kapchomuso, Sesya and Seretunin.
Among the major hotels in the county are Lake Bogora Spa Resort, Soi Safari Lodge and Kabarnet Hotel.