Kenya is Water Wealthy! The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) is continuing to lead efforts that will prove to the world that if stakeholders come together for the common use and management of water resources we will have enough water for all of us.
“Mt. Kenya is a crucial water tower that supplies water to the over 9 million residents surrounding Mt Kenya and a large part of Northern Kenya. Nothing significant can happen unless people start talking to each other in order to come up with sustainable solutions for water resource sharing, use and management,” said Stanley Kirimi, MKEWP’s Coordinator.
Already MKEWP has begun engagement with County Governments of Laikipia, Nyeri and Meru to manage the on-going water crisis that has resulted in some conflicts between communities in northern Kenya.
Mount Kenya Growers Group and the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group, also form the long list of partners tasked with providing a mechanism to end water resources conflicts in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment – an area of approximately 15,000 square kilometers.
An astounding 90% of water use in this area relies on rivers. Small-scale farmers in the upper region use 80% of the total available resource. A big number of this population also uses the water illegally, leaving the 20% with no water at all.
LWF continues to build on its many years of working with Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) for better water resource management. It also continues to serve as the Secretariat to the MKEWP, working closely with the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) because we know that current water and resources conflict can be solved through collective actions that balance the social, economic and environmental demands on water resources equitably.
There are some WRUAs that are providing exemplary leadership while others struggle due to an array of reasons. Here are some of their stories:
Kihoto Water Project – Margaret Wambui – Chairlady
“I want everyone to know that we all have a right to water, but we all must work hard in managing our water resources so that our children can enjoy this same right. I am specifically encouraging women to participate more by joining their local WRUA and also participate in taking a leadership role in water matters.
When I first joined Kihoto water project it was because we were facing serious water shortages. To add to that, we had nowhere of storing the little water we could find. When my neighbours saw the benefits they too helped in investing in the purchase of a tank and now we have two that serves about 370 community members.
As Chairlady for the water project the greatest challenge I face is to ensure that water is fairly shared and used by all community members that this WRUA serves. There is no reservoir and the taps need replacing, as they get rusty and dirty faster than we can buy new ones; and I know that is bad for our health!
LWF has really helped with the formation of WRUA Clusters too. The Financial help that we have received has allowed the committee of our water project to hold general meetings in order to sensitise people and we are finding that most people are eager to learn and execute change. We encourage our members also to stop viewing the forest as government property, and rather look at it as a resource that we are responsible for. People should be educated on the importance of trees and the effect it has on water.
The County Government should also get more involved and help us build infrastructure such as dams for water storage. We were promised a dam almost 8 years ago and that construction has still not happened”.
Nanyuki WRUA – Amos Ekale- Committee Member
“I have been farming for a very long time now. This is how I feed my family and meet our every day expenses including school fees for my children. Towards the end of last year and for the most part of this year we have faced many challenges but mostly as a result of the drought.
As an active Committee Member of Nanyuki WRUA, I am responsible for the management of the water-rationing project in the community, but I also scout the area as some community members have the tendency to abstract water illegally, leaving those living downstream with very little water.
We have benefitted greatly from LWF’s Water Programme and now things are looking up with the formation of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership. Our scouting initiatives have been boosted, and as a result, our river is flowing and deforestation has greatly reduced! But sometimes, and especially during this drought, we are finding that we have to be more stringent with community members on how they utilise our water resources. During dry spells the water appears as if it isn’t enough but it is! We have found that some community members block water intakes and this affects other members of the community. We always engage them as much as possible, teaching them about effective storage, farming and animal husbandry.
We have many dams in this area but they are all damaged and need to be repaired. New dams need to be built too. This will help more members to join the WRUA so that we can collectively engage in finding solutions to the challenges we face in the management of our water resource. At the moment some members feel that they are too far from the water source and find no need to join the WRUA. We then end up having to deal with issues such as abstraction as a result.
Another challenge we face, and which MKEWP is helping us with, are issues regarding the administration of our WRUA – we need change! Leadership is so important and so when we continue to have a chairman that has held the seat for 17 years things don’t move. I fear that our river may dry up in 10 years or less if we do not start to look at all aspects to do with the management of the resource as well as the WRUA.
I also want to urge, not only our members but all Laikipians, to stay involved and join forums that will help with conservation. During this drought people’s voices came out strongly and that is the way it should always be – engagement is the key to our success”!
Ngusishi WRUA – Samuel Maina- Project Manager-
“When we started the Ngusishi WRUA in 1999 we did so because we were experiencing a lot of conflict between upstream and downstream farmers. There were almost 102 illegal abstractors! We made a decision to put a system together that will stop the conflict and give equitable access to water for all members in the WRUA.
With the help of LWF, we now have different common water intakes that are serving 16 water projects including 9 commercial farms.
Our system works very well because we can see how many people are benefitting. We currently have 10 permanent employees with 2 project managers and an annual budget of Kes 2.4 million, which is enough to carry out important activities in order to manage our river. 70% of all water flows are channelled to the community and we allow the remainder to flow freely in order to support the downstream environment.
We have enough water to support everyone here because we work as a team and deal with our challenges as a team, which is very important. Farmers are successful in their businesses and we all get along – big and small. Many times LWF has brought other WRUAs to learn from us and we continue to talk to them even on our own without the Forum being present and I think that is important, not only for us at Ngusishi but also for Laikipia”.