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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Addressing water resource problems in Sipili sub catchment

By Bob Aston
The dwindling water volume from the water source around Sipili sub catchment area has been prevalent for a long time now. This is exacerbated by encroachment of the catchment area hence general decrease in vegetation as a result of human activities.
Previously, little effort has been made to protect water quality in the sub catchment. Most of the resources in the sub catchment are not protected hence deterioration both in quality and quantity. Some of the most common causes of poor water quality are siltation, direct watering from springs, dams and streams by people and livestock and poor cultivation methods.
A section of Wangwachi A dam

Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) together with Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) through support from Tree Is Life Trust (TILT) and stakeholders like Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and local leaders from the national government have now come together to address water resource problems and catchment protection by developing Sub Catchment Management Plan (SCMP).
The SCMP will enable Sipili WRUA and other stakeholders to improve the status of the catchment and water resources within Wangwachi and Sipili.
The SCMP reflects a set of activities designed to meet identified objectives to address water resource management problems within the Sipili sub catchment. It also provides a framework through which various stakeholders can collaborate towards improving the water resources in the sub catchment.
Ground water is the predominant water source covering a significant amount of total water demands within the households in Sipili and Wangwachi. There are also several seasonal streams and low yielding boreholes in the catchment area.
Currently information from Sipili WRUA and WRMA indicates that the sub catchment has eleven (11) dams and one (1) water pan. This includes; Karungubii, Wangwachi A, Wangwachi B, Kauka, Ndaragwiti, Ndemu Ndune, Muraya, Dimcom, Marura, Kahura, Mwireri and Mwireri B dam. The area also has two springs namely Kiriko and Kagwaru and a water pan called Leleshwa.
One of the problem listed by dam committees include scarcity of water which is caused by riparian destruction, deforestation, diminishing resources, lack of water harvesting facilities and uncontrolled water use. Solutions proposed include; awareness creation, marking of the riparian area, planting water friendly species, promoting controlled and legal water use and increasing water storage facilities.
Destruction of water catchment has also been on the increase and this is mainly through riparian destruction, over abstraction, increased pollution, poor farming methods, increase in population, charcoal burning and illegal logging, ignorance, poverty and encroachment. Some solutions provided include; creating awareness, adopting alternative livelihood practices, planting of water friendly trees, compliance and enforcement, exploiting alternative sources, pegging of riparian areas and adopting good agricultural practices.
Sipili WRUA members inspecting one of the boreholes
Soil erosion has also been a major problem and this is mainly caused by overstocking, poor farming practices, lack of soil erosion structures, catchment destruction. Solutions provided include; controlled grazing, adopting conservation agriculture, erecting gabions and terraces, afforestation and riparian conservation.
Poor drainage due to poor planning and undefined sewer lines has also been a problem in the sub catchment. Solutions provided include; proper planning, developing defined sewer lines and enforcement and compliance.
Another problem has been illegal abstraction caused by lack of awareness, ignorance and poverty. Solutions provided include; awareness creation, livelihood empowerment, promoting legal water use and helping Sipili WRUA to be proactive.
Water use conflict caused by inadequate water, competition between various water users, climate change, lack of awareness and violating of water laws has also been a problem in the sub catchment. Solutions provided include; increase water storage, explore ground water resource, legalize water use, creating awareness, empowering Sipili WRUA on conflict resolution and compliance and enforcement.
Another issue that has been common is water pollution which is caused by agriculture chemicals, poor drainage, poor cultivation methods, direct watering of livestock, poor location of spraying sites, washing of clothes, vehicles and motorbikes near water sources. Solutions provided include; proper disposal of the pesticides cans, construction of watering troughs, improving on cultivation methods and carrying out anti pollution awareness campaigns.
The various water stakeholders are set to finalize the development of SCMP before end of October.

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