Five arid counties picked for Sh3.5 billion water supply

Women draw water from a well during a drought in Garissa County. file photo | nmg
Women draw water from a well during a drought in Garissa County. file photo | nmg 

Semi-arid counties of northern Kenya will get improved water supply in a Sh3.5 billion plan between a US development agency and the Ministry of Water.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and other partners have launched the programme to increase supply in five counties.

Running for five years, the public-private partnership will cover Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir.

“The programme seeks to improve and increase water supply availability from 37 per cent to more than 50 per cent of residents in the five counties,” said James Peters, the USAid’s deputy assistant administrator and acting Global Water co-ordinator.

The partnership between USAid and the ministry has led to construction of Sh 5.6 million Lorengelup community water project in Turkana Central sub-County.

“The scheme will serve about 5,500 beneficiaries and expand access to water and sustainable livestock and rangeland management,” explained Mr Peters.

The Lorengelup water project is part of the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Intergrated Development (Kenya Rapid) programme, a collaboration between USAid and the Millennium Water Alliance.

Turkana leaders have, however, petitioned the county and national governments to develop a comprehensive plan on use of the 250 billion cubic metres underground water reservoir discovered a few years ago to resolve recurrent crop failure.

“Both governments to develop blueprint on how the water can be used to promote irrigated agriculture to increase crop production and attain food security,” said Joyce Emanikor, Turkana Women Representative.

She asked the county government to allocate funds for distribution of water for domestic and livestock use that has been source of conflict among pastoralists in the region.

“A proper strategy needs to be put in place to address water being source of conflict instead of resolving the problem,” shed said.

Rift Valley Water Services Board last year commissioned the drilling of water from the aquifer to the tune of Sh1 billion.