A partnership bringing together water actors in Laikipia, Nyeri and Meru have teamed up with county governments to seek solutions to the current water crisis that is affecting millions of Kenyans.
The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership—MKEWP— a partnership of public, private and civil society organizations which has committed to socially acceptable, economically favourable and environmental sound practices, is spearheading a campaign to address issues surrounding water access, use, management and conservation for the counties.
“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 ongoing water crisis, which has resulted in some conflicts between communities in northern Kenya.
The MKEWP plans to engage with Nyandarua, Isiolo and Samburu Counties. Flower farmers, horticultural growers, water resources users associations (WRUAs), national government agencies, researchers, civil society and other water service actors have come together to identify, discuss and take action on common water problems in the areas.
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 and resources conflict in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment area – 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 uses the water illegally leaving the remaining 20% with no water at all.
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum which serves as the Secretariat to MKEWP said current water and resources conflict can be solved through collective actions that balance the social, economic and environmental demands on water resources equitably.
Rumuruti, Doldol, Isiolo, Kipirpir and the Aberdares also fall under this region.
Concentration of the area’s water resources in the south western part of the catchment—where the Mt. Kenya and Aberdares water towers are—coupled with the region’s high population density and settlement have led to intensive use, competition, and conflict over existing water resources.
“Weak linkages between stakeholders in water conservation translates to weak management of the invaluable resource while prolonged dry spells with inadequate Storage Facilities worsen water situation in the region,” said Mr Kirimi.
Kenya’s per capita water is 600 cubic meters, which is below the Global threshold of 1000 m3.
The country receives enough rainfall to support six times the current population but due to lack of water storage ends up with false deficits.
The partnership has called for development of water resource infrastructure, strengthening institutional capacity in the catchment and introduction of effective regulation as a pre-condition for effective allocation decisions.
“Strengthening water abstraction, monitoring and regulation, in addition to creating proper incentives for monitoring and enforcement will be instrumental to the effective management of water in the catchment,” added Kirimi.