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Government sourcing water for Nairobi

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – The government has announced its intention to look for a new source of water for Nairobi.

Water Permanent Secretary Eng David Stower told a media briefing on Tuesday that once identified, the source would help address the perennial water shortages experienced by many Nairobi residents.

“We are working with the World Bank and the French Development Agency to search for a new water source,” he said, adding that a mission had toured the country last month to assess the viability of the plan.

“Work is in top gear to be able to find a sustainable solution to the water problem in the city. We in the ministry are confident that this will happen,” he stated.

Nairobi and its environs have been experiencing severe water shortages due the degradation of the country’s water catchment areas owing to various factors, including human settlement and rain failures, and this has been exacerbated by the tightened water rationing program.

He said the ministry was in consultations with their Finance counterparts to work out how to fund the project.

Eng Stower also said repair works on the Sasumua Dam, which is a major source of water for Nairobi, should be completed by next year.

This, he expressed, would increase the volume of water by an additional 12 million cubic metres, which would in turn ease the water rations in the city.

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The dam was spoilt by heavy rains in 2003 but its rehabilitation, which began in 2007 and was expected to take one year, has been delayed.

“We are now back on course and work is underway. We will be able to store an additional 12 million cubic metres of water from the current five million M³, which will bring the total storage capacity to 17million M³ for Nairobi residents,” he said.

Kenya is among the lowest ranked countries in terms of water security. It is estimated that the country’s water storage per capita is about four cubic metres compared to the US which has over 6,000 M³and that is why it is so vulnerable when dealing with challenges such as drought.

At the same time, the PS said his ministry was developing an Irrigation Policy that upon implementation will re-arrange how the irrigation sub-sector is managed. Previously, most of the work within this sector was handled by the National Irrigation Board and a few players in the private sector.

“We are re-organising the sub-sector to have one institution that is going to be dedicated to infrastructure development to bring water from the sources to the farm level and then the farming community takes over from there and engages in crop production,” he explained.

Mr Stower decried Kenya’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture, which has failed to ensure food security for the country.

“Most of the irrigation schemes that were constructed in the 1970s and 1980s have not performed and so the ministry is up scaling its efforts in that sub-sector,” he said, adding that it was a concerted effort with their counterparts in the Agriculture and Livestock ministries.

Another strategy – the Water Storage Policy – Eng Stower added, had been formulated to aid the government to raise the storage per capita from four cubic metres to 30M³ in the next ten years.

This would also involve the construction of about 30 large dams across the country within that period, to aid water storage and harvesting.

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