Addressing Water Security in the Upper Ewaso Ngiro Basin
In the last ten years, many actors have been working to address the challenges facing water resource management in the country. There has been a lot of progress in Kenya with regards to how we manage our water, reflected in the Water Policy of 1999, the Water Act of 2002 and Water Rules of 2007. Stakeholder participation has improved with the establishment of Water Resources Users Associations (WRUAs) and Catchment Area Advisory Committees (CAACs).
Kenya’s set-up of water resource management focuses on a drainage and sub-drainage system. The Laikipia ecosystem lies in the Ewaso Ngiro North Catchment Area (ENNCA) of which over 90% is classified as arid and semi-arid land. In this region, 65 WRUAs have been established with 34 from the upper basin, an area which has a high concentration of the catchment’s water resources. There is also a high population density in this section of the catchment, which means the water resources are heavily utilized. This has given rise to conflict.
Despite efforts by WRUAs, water resources still remain under extreme pressure. The population continues to increase with socio-economic activities such as commercial irrigation increasing the demand significantly. This trend is clearly documented in the National Water Master Plan (NWMP) that has projected annual surface water deficit for ENNCA to be 2,442 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) by 2030. This will be more than 3000% increase from the 2010 deficit of only 68 MCM, the highest rate of rise in the country.
As part of the push to address this growing water crisis, representatives from the private and public sector of the ENNCA got together at the end of last year for a one day session sponsored by LWF and facilitated by Rural Focus Ltd. The outcome of this meeting was the understanding that there are serious water risks in the region and that these risks are shared everyone. Mitigating these risks requires collective action. The meeting revealed a need for a public-private partnership which will address water access, use, management and conservation in the Upper Ewaso Ngiro North Catchment area.
A dedicated taskforce was created to deliver the Partnership’s terms of references. This team of 10 people met in February and came up with a plan that outlines the goals, purposes, principles and actions for this voluntary partnership. Dubbed the “Upper Ewaso Ngiro North Water Partnership”, this charter will be presented to the membership for adoption. LWF will serve as a secretariat to this partnership to support its establishment.