Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) participated in the 1st Kenyan Water Policy Hackathon. The event, organized by the International Water Institute (IWMI), CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies, and Wetlands International, took place in Nairobi from May 18th to 19th, 2023. The Hackathon brought together over 35 stakeholders from Civil Society Organizations, the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, and youth players in the water sector.
The primary objective of the Hackathon was to explore the commitments of the UN Water Action Agenda within the context of Kenya’s water governance and its links to the challenge of synergy between food, land, and water systems policy. Participants were tasked with identifying key areas for improving policy delivery and planning approaches under Kenya’s legal framework.
The Hackathon provided a valuable platform for participants to share knowledge and experiences, foster dialogue and collaboration, and develop strategies and recommendations for enhancing water security, multi-level governance, and cooperation in Kenya. The discussions revolved around vital topics such as Water Resource Management, Climate Change, Water Food and Energy nexus, Water, Peace and Security, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).
One of the keynote speakers at the event, Gladys Wekesa, Director of Trans boundary Water Resources at the Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation in Kenya, emphasized the Government’s commitment to the Water Action Agenda. She highlighted the importance of increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation. She also acknowledged the challenges faced in enforcing laws and regulations in the water sector.
Dr. Alan Nicol, Director of Water, Growth, and Inclusion at IWMI, set the tone for the Hackathon with his opening remarks. He encouraged participants to think differently about water and consider what the new water governance agenda needs to improve Kenya’s water policy landscape. Participants were urged to explore innovative solutions that would benefit the water sector in Kenya, whether through science, increased collaboration, accountability, or stronger monitoring.
LWF had the opportunity to present on “Water Use and Allocation: A Case of the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin.” The presentation provided an overview of the basin, highlighted water use patterns, discussed the existing water allocation framework, identified challenges, outlined existing opportunities, and emphasized the importance of engaging and empowering communities in water resource management. The aim was to give participants a comprehensive understanding of the critical issues and dynamics within this basin.
Throughout the two-day event, participants engaged in intense discussions within their hacking groups. They identified key challenges and solutions related to climate change, water, peace, and security, water resources management, and the WASH sector. Importantly, the participants made strong commitments to follow up on these solutions and implement them to the best of their abilities.
Mr. Felix Brian Kwena, a Programme Manager with the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO), summarized the significance of addressing water issues at the local level. He stated, “Water problems are local in nature. For resolutions passed at conferences like the recently concluded UN Water Conference to have an impact, they have to be localized and made relevant for the local communities.”
Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s participation in the 1st Water Policy Hackathon exemplifies its commitment to advancing water resource management and conservation efforts in Kenya. By actively engaging with stakeholders, sharing knowledge, and advocating for sustainable solutions, the organization continues to play a vital role in shaping Kenya’s water policy landscape.
The Hackathon laid the foundation for future collaboration and progress in addressing the challenges facing Kenya’s water sector. It is through such events like that innovative ideas are cultivated, partnerships are formed, and practical solutions devised to ensure water security, sustainable development, and the well-being of communities across Kenya. Laikipia Wildlife Forum looks forward to building on the outcomes of the Hackathon and contributing to the transformation of Kenya’s water governance framework for the betterment of all.