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Monday, 29 June 2015

Ensuring proper management of water resources in Laikipia

By Bob Aston
Increase in population and economic activities have led to increase in demand for water resources across the country. This has not only affected agricultural production but has also contributed to water related conflicts.
In some areas covered by Ewaso Ngiro North Catchment Area (ENNCA), excessive abstraction of river water for both irrigation and domestic use in the upstream areas usually leaves very little water for downstream users.
Water scarcity issues have become critical along a number of tributaries resulting in water conflicts within the catchment area. This continues to escalate as surface water which these activities depend on gets scarce.
Importance of protecting our wetlands
The area covered by ENNCA is about 210,226 square kilometres, which is about 36 percent of the total area of Kenya spread over ten counties. It covers the whole of Laikipia, Samburu, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo and Mandera counties and also parts of Nyeri, Meru, Nyandarua and Garissa counties.
It is the largest of all the six sub catchments but with the least population as it falls in a semi-arid landscape. It lies in Kenya’s dry corridor with well-defined double maxima of rainfall in March-May (long rains) and October- December (short rains). Most of the catchment is below 1,000 m above sea level.
Drainage is controlled by four major independent systems namely: Ewaso Ng’iro North River, Ewaso Laggas, Daua system and Chalbi system. It also has five sub regions namely: Upper Ewaso Ng’iro, Middle Ewaso Ng’iro, North Ewaso Laggas, Ewaso-Daua and Engare-Narok Melgis.
Water related issues
Mr. Timothy Mutie, ENNCA Regional Technical Manager, noted that proper water resource management can help in addressing the food security situation in Laikipia County. He said salient issues facing the catchment include: extensive degradation in the past as a result of deforestation, encroachment into water catchment areas, cultivation in wetlands and overgrazing.
Pollution from agro-industries, effluent discharge and solid waste from urban areas are also issues which continue to affect water resources in the catchment.
Addressing water related issues
He said that they came up with catchment management strategy (CMS) to regulate management of the water resources and related land resources in the catchment. CMS also outlines how the concept of integrated water resources management can be implemented at the catchment level.
Some of the strategies that ENNCA is currently pursuing to resolve water issues include: improving the use of water resources management tools for effective water resources planning and allocation; strengthening stakeholder collaboration to enhance water storage; and adaptation to climate change impacts and to strengthen use of water resources management tools and collaboration for effective catchment protection and conservation.
The ENNCA management has been collaborating with stakeholders like Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Water Resource Users Association (WRUA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Ministry of Water, Environment and Natural Resource in resolving water related issues in the sub catchment.
ENNCA future plans
In order to meet customers and regulatory requirements in water resources management, ENNCA regional office management is planning to: enhance equitable allocation of water resources through increasing the time the reserve flow is maintained at determined points by two percent; and reducing water use conflicts by addressing reported complaints within ten working days.
Source: Laikipia Mali Asili. You can download a copy of the newsletter here
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