LETTERS: Water shortage demands urgent restoration of threatened towers

A woman draws water from a shallow and temporary source in Makueni County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A woman draws water from a shallow and temporary source in Makueni County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya launched The National Master Plan 2030 intended at revitalising investments and policy in the water and sanitation sector.

This master plan aims to ensure access to water services for all by 2030, having missed the National Water Services Strategy (NWSS 2007-15) targets under Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Vision 2030 to provide affordable water for all and basic sanitation by 2015.

Water Act number 8 of 2002 established a number of institutions as part of reforms. However, assignment of roles among the institutions under the Act only made policy harmonisation harder.

Each establishment devised policy guidelines that were in conflict with sister establishments. In other instances, institutions were positioned under competing government ministries hindering service delivery and partnership.

Following a three-year drought, Theewaterskloof dam that serves Western Cape has continued to register reduced water levels. A water crisis is expected by April this year with taps running dry.

According to Associated Press, residents of Cape Town have realised that life is water-conscious and every drop counts. Residents are accusing government officials of failure to plan to mitigate looming water crisis considering Western Cape is a water-scarce region.

Kenyan authorities and citizenry should learn from Cape Town crisis. Water provision is a devolved function. County governments should give priority to water projects by use of Elsen-lower-matrix.

In the recent past, there has been extensive coverage of water crisis incidents in Nairobi, drying of rivers in central Kenya, low water levels in our lakes like Olbolosat in Nyandarua.

Unfortunately, county authorities seem to be out of touch with reality. While an underground tunnel is under construction that will draw water from Murang’a County to relieve Nairobi residents of water shortages, water supply to Murang’a County residents is wanting.

In Nyeri, the county government is attributing low river flows to logging in Mount Kenya Forest.

Citizens have to wake up to the fact that global warming is real. People should learn to adapt to changing weather patterns and mitigate effects thereof.

A closer look at the peak of Mount Kenya is a testimony of declining glacier volumes, a big contrast only a few years ago.

Majority of rivers originating from the mountain depended on glaciers for recharge. But over-use of rivers by upstream communities and community water projects further worsen the crisis.

For example, there are 45 and 75 licenced intakes along Thegu and Sagana rivers respectively in Kieni East. There are also countless unregistered diversions downstream by use of gen-sets doing minor irrigation along river lines.

As there is no substitute to water, authorities should come up with policies that harmonise water usage, abstraction, and supply.

The 52 ninety-day reservoirs should be a priority as a matter of urgency to harness and harvest surface flows during rainy seasons.

The county governments should embark on catchment restoration of all water towers. The national government needs to reclaim forest reserves with indigenous tree species, a reverse policy on commercialisation of forest resource through logging and providing a marshall plan on water resource harnessing.

Anything else will lead to a bigger crisis like resource based conflict, food insecurity, and high energy costs.

Kiragu Kariuki, public policy and administration expert, Nyeri County