Over the last 2 weeks, WRUAs, WRMA and MKEWP have entered into formal agreements to restore and sustain rivers flowing within the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin. This is a culmination of a month long consultation process that included the private and public sectors. Focus was on the implementation of a strategy to mitigate the water crisis that has been affecting the basin since the beginning of this year.
The agreement signed by 14 WRUA chairpersons and WRMA describes a framework for collaboration and provides details of a partnership arrangement between the parties with clear mandates and responsibilities. WRUAs are responsible for:
- Awareness campaigns at the sub-catchment level,
- Preparing and implementing river water rationing programmes and,
- Promoting compliance among its members and work towards conflict resolution.
WRMA on the other hand is providing WRUAs with technical support in developing the rationing programs, enforcement support to increase compliance and water flow monitoring. 4 WRUA clusters (Timau, Nanyuki, Naromoru and Ewaso Ng’iro North) have been established for joint monitoring and evaluation of WRUAs in the same sub catchment, and also WRUA to WRUA mentorship.
This intervention has resulted in increased water flows for almost all the rivers at the end of February.
However this increase in water flow has been observed mostly on the upper and middle zones of the rivers, which before this effort, were experiencing, almost zero flows. Illegal water abstraction is the biggest problem in the middle zones of the Basin. WRMA has prohibited this and is working with WRUAs to enforce this regulation. However, this is still a challenge especially due to the expansive coverage of river networks within the sub basin.
Increasing climate change pressures, growth in human and livestock population and other factors inherent to water management and conservation are forcing inevitable change in the way we manage our natural resources. Severe water shortages and drought are occurring more frequently, more intensely with the majority of devastating effects taking a toll on local communities and wildlife.
Many of us are asking; what can we do? The answer is a lot! We can begin by learning more about our WRUAs and supporting them so that they can carry out the work that they have been mandated to do.
WRUAs are established under the Water Act as grass root structures to manage sub-catchments with or on behalf of WRMA. Their mandates include:
- Surveillance along the river on illegal abstraction, damage on plantations and pollution into the river.
- Conflict Management and Resolution on competing water needs among different users by:
- Helping WRMA issue abstraction permits by putting their approval/comments on the suitability of water applications.
- Regulating abstraction, particularly in times of drought to ensure that the available water is shared equally.
- Ensuring environmental flows are always maintained.
More effort is needed to restore the river flows especially in the Timau and Naromoru sub-catchment. This can only be done if stakeholders continue to work with their WRUAs and if the County Government strengthens its support for the WRUAs and partnership with the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP). Also continuous river water rationing is needed to ensure the rivers are flowing until the situation normalises.
The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership supports this effort. With support from the International Finance Corporation, our KSH are being matched by the IFC. Other supporting partners include the Mount Kenya Growers Group, National Drought Management Authority, and Laikipia County Government.
Obey your WRUA water rationing rules. Consider your water use carefully. And most of all, consider the impacts of your actions on your downstream neighbours. Don’t cut off their water supply!