Voice for Wetlands and Water

“Watershed-Empowering Citizens” is a strategic partnership of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IRC, Simavi, Wetlands International and Akvo. The Programme works to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations to influence policy and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mali, Uganda and The Netherlands.

Voices for Wetlands and Water: Case Studies on Water Resources Management and WASH in Kenya 2016 - 2020

Authors: Edward M. Indakwa; Elizabeth Wamba

© Wetlands International, 2021. All rights reserved.

This publication is the property of Wetlands International and is protected by intellectual property laws. Portions of the text may be reproduced for educational or non-commercial use without prior permission from Wetlands International, provided that the source is acknowledged, with mention of the complete name of the report, and that the portions are not used in a misleading context. No use of this publication may be made for resale or other commercial purposes.

Suggested citation: Wetlands International (2021). Voices for Wetlands and Water: Case Studies on Water Resources Management and WASH in Kenya (2016 – 2020). Wetlands International, Nairobi, Kenya




Acknowledgement About Watershed

2 2 4 4 5 6 7


Investing in Joint Solutions

List of Acronyms Executive Summary

Key Messages

8 Case Studies on Linkages between WRM & WASH 8 Kajiado County: Thirst in the Dust of Kilimanjaro 8 Community Voices in Decision-Making Processes 12

Isinya: Women Cooperatives for Ecologically Sustainable Livelihoods

14 16 18 20 21

Kimana Swamp: Why Birds Fled the Nest

Entasopia: Oasis between Wilderness and a Salty Lake Leveraging Resources for Catchment Management Using Media to Amplify Community Voices Policy Gaps in Coordination of WASH and WRM

pg 42

pg 17

pg 9

Laikipia County: Scarcity in Abundance

24 24 26 27 28 29 31 32 33 34 34 35 35 36 36 36 38 38 40 44

Strengthening Public Private Partnerships in Laikipia Maji Chap Chap: Bringing Rain Water to the Kitchen Table Best Practice in Sustainable Water Resources Management

Changing Times for Pastoralists Never Take Water for Granted

Awareness and Efficiency to Curb Wastage

Community Engagement and Partnerships in Action Enabling Disadvantaged Pastoralist WRUAs

pg 32

Leave No One Behind

A Helping Hand for Women with Disability Water, Marginalisation, Women and Children

Double Tragedy for Mothers Water Sector Governance

From Source to Homes

Rising Demand, Dwindling Resource

Lessons Learned

Building Strong Partnerships for Change

pg 34

Devolution, Challenges and Opportunities for Water Governance

References and Photo Credits



Acknowledgement Wetlands International is indebted to our partners and the national water sector stakeholder institutions and county governments of Laikipia and Kajiado for their support and collaboration. Special mention goes to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Centre for Social Planning and Administrative Development (CESPAD), Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT), Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET), Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO), Mt Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) and Neighbours Initiative Alliance (NIA) for their time, resources and ideas. We would particularly like to thank the national and county government officials and water governance CSOs for their collaboration and partnership and, above all, the Water Resources Users Association (WRUA) officials who volunteer their time and resources to protect water catchments in very difficult circumstances.

About Watershed “Watershed-Empowering Citizens” is a strategic partnership of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IRC, Simavi, Wetlands International and Akvo. The Programme works to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations to influence policy and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mali, Uganda and The Netherlands. In Kenya, the Programme was implemented in Kajiado and Laikipia counties, with a focus on strengthening the capacity of CSOs on lobbying and advocacy to ensure that their views, interests and the needs of the communities they represent are addressed in national and county government policies, budgets and projects. These interventions were implemented between 2016 and 2020 with the support of the Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET), Centre for Social Planning and Administrative Development (CESPAD), Neighbours Initiative Alliance (NIA), Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO) and Mt Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP). Our hope is that this will, in the long term, deliver improvements in WASH and water resources governance and assure access to environmentally sustainable services in these two counties. Of particular concern are the marginalised members of society such as women, the very poor and persons living with disability who bear the biggest burden of environmental degradation.






Investing in Joint Solutions According to Ramsar (2018), 35 to 80 per cent of the world’s wetlands have been wiped off the face of the earth. The impact of this loss is evident in the decline of biodiversity and the quality and quantity of water, and their effects on livelihoods in many places across Africa. In Kenya, as it is in most developing countries, loss of wetlands is caused by rapid population growth, rising pressure on land and the exploitation of natural resources with little regard to wise use. Wetlands are particularly at risk in the water-deficit northern and southern parts of Kenya where climate change and overexploitation and destruction of catchments imperil lives and livelihoods which fuel water- related conflicts between communities, and between humans and wildlife. Whereas several national and local institutions have varying responsibility over wetlands, policy gaps and weak institutional collaboration make the enforcement of regulations governing the protection of wetlands difficult. As a result, long-term resource availability (both quality and quantity) and efficient service delivery cannot be guaranteed (IRC, 2021). Given rapid shifts in weather patterns occasioned by climate change, the need to halt destruction of wetlands, reclaim those that are lost and manage scarce water resources prudently, particularly in semi-arid areas, cannot be overstated. This will require political commitment, sound policies and increased awareness within government and among water users (Wetlands International, 2017). In addition to conserving the wetlands that remain intact and restore those that are degraded, the resource must be tracked and mapped nationwide. Financial and economic

Julie Mulonga - Director, Wetlands International Eastern Africa

incentives for upstream water users and private sector linkages for the protection of water resources are also needed. To address some of these pressing water governance related challenges in Kenya, Wetlands International, in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IRC, Simavi and Akvo launched the Watershed-Empowering Citizens Programme. Implemented in the water- stressed counties of Kajiado and Laikipia from 2016 to 2020, the Programme sought to bring water sector stakeholders together and forge joint solutions to strengthen the capacity of communities, CSOs and marginalised groups to participate and influence governance in Water Resources Management (WRM) and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). This report is a summary of case studies from the two programme sites. It highlights the linkages between WASH and WRM, outlines programme wins and losses, the challenges that remain unaddressed and, most importantly, offers valuable lessons for the design of programmes for areas with similar challenges. These case studies also underline the importance of investing in information and knowledge among water users and the role of robust policy, collaboration and meaningful partnerships in the development and implementation of effective WRM systems for WASH services.



List of Acronyms


Centre for Social Planning and Administrative Development


County Integrated Development Plan

Civil Society Organisation


Integrated Water Resources Management


Kenya Shillings


Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network


Kenya Forest Service


Kenya Water and Health Organisation


Kenya Wildlife Service


Kenya Water Towers Agency


Laikipia Women with Disability Amplified Voices Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership Nanyuki Water and Sewerage Company National Environment Management Authority





Neighbours Initiative Alliance Sub-Catchment Management Plan United Disabled Persons of Kenya Water Sanitation and Hygiene Water Resources Authority Water Resources Management Water Resources Users Association



Water Service Providers Water Sector Trust Fund




Executive Summary

Kajiado and Laikipia counties are water-stressed forcing many communities to dig deeper into pockets to access the life-supporting commodity

Laikipia and Kajiado counties are both semi- arid with a transboundary and insufficient water resource and diverse water users ranging from urban dwellers to smallholder and large-scale farmers and pastoralists. Both counties host several endangered mega fauna. Many rivers here are seasonal, creating stiff competition for water during dry seasons. Pastoralists who dwell downstream move their stock upstream in search of water and pasture. This causes inter- and intra-community conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, and between pastoralists from different communities. These conflicts occasionally spiral into violence and loss of human life.

Wild animals also move upstream or to the community springs, causing crop and property damage, livestock raids and conflict. In recent years, climate change, rapid population growth and land use change from pastoralism to irrigated farming have spiked demand for the dwindling water resource, causing degradation of water catchments, impacting WASH and increasing conflicts. Unfortunately, laws governing management of water resources and protection of wetlands are hampered by policy gaps and institutional conflicts within government agencies that cause duplication of functions and hinder proper enforcement of regulations.



Poor access to clean and adequate water has a direct impact on livelihoods. Marginalised and vulnerable groups such as pastoralists, women, the very poor and persons living with disability are usually the most affected. Unfortunately, in semi-arid areas, where water is not just life but a political tool as well, those most desperate for water are cut off from politics and decision making and rarely participate in the planning, management and distribution of water resources. The Watershed Programme in Kenya was, therefore, structured to strengthen CSOs and citizen groups to access and process information and improve their capacity to lobby government and other institutions involved in improving WRM and the delivery of water and sanitation services that last. Apart from training WRUAs in water resource management, institutional governance, and management, development and implementation of water catchment protection tools, the Programme also helped to demonstrate linkages

between WRM and water, sanitation and hygiene issues in the Kajiado and Laikipia counties’ annual and five-year development plans. From a sustainability perspective, WRM and WASH are also embedded in the Kajiado County Natural Resources Management Bill, the Kajiado County Water Policy, and the Environmental Management and Coordination (Conservation and Management of Wetlands) Amendment Regulations 2018. This is in part because of Watershed’s lobbying and advocacy efforts. While a great deal of work still lies ahead, the dialogue forums the Programme helped create in both counties provide platforms for integration, coordination, joint planning and leveraging of resources for implementation of sustainable WRM and WASH plans. By Lilian Nyaega - Regional Programme Officer Wetlands International Eastern Africa and Titus Wamae - Regional Policy & Advocacy Officer Wetlands International Eastern Africa • Multi-stakeholder platforms are useful in advancing collaborative action in water resources governance including translating joint decisions into development interventions and outcomes. The involvement of key stakeholders in such planning can strengthen ownership from water users particularly when developed in the context of policy and practice dialogues on WRM and WASH. • There is a clear and pressing need for county and national government agencies to strengthen the financial dimension of water resources management. Addressing these gaps call for innovation, cooperation and goodwill.

Key Messages

• While users, practitioners and decision-makers appreciate that WRM and WASH are intrinsically connected, it is not always clear what those linkages are and how to make the best use of the linkages to promote WASH and WRM in both policy and practice. Disseminating knowledge from this interaction can inform and bring about changes in water use and governance. • The failure to include vulnerable and marginalised people in decision-making processes remains a major hurdle for their engagement in policy making. When given the opportunity, they contribute their unique experiences and valuable perspectives to decision-making, creating avenues for sustainable WRM and WASH.



Case Studies on Linkages between Water Resources Management and WASH

Kajiado County: Thirst in the Dust of Kilimanjaro

Community Voices in Decision-Making Processes

The Entarara community of Oloitokok, Kajiado County, draws water from shallow wells, streams, seasonal rivers and the Entarara Water Project, a water harvesting and storage initiative. People here keep livestock and also engage in farming by irrigation.

Before the Entarara WRUA was formed in 2009 and a Sub-Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) drawn a year later, awareness on the importance of protecting the catchment was low. Tree felling and charcoal burning were common along seasonal rivers whose banks are severely eroded



by heavy floodwaters. Water-related conflicts between members of the community and with wildlife were also widespread, particularly during the dry season. WASH was a challenge, too, because of open defecation, bathing in rivers and dumping of pesticide bottles in rivers and streams. Through Watershed, the WRUA officials received training on national and county legislation and their implications for CSO practice in the WASH

the prioritisation of water projects over other “development” projects.

“Educating community groups elevates watershed management in a big way. We now plant trees for income so that our men don’t have to fell trees along riverbanks to burn charcoal. Natural vegetation is better protected because women are growing trees for firewood. As a result, vegetation cover along the rivers and at the springs is improving and there is less erosion,” she says.

Abigael Ntawuasa with community scouts Margaret Ngina and Agnes Saiyoki in awe of the rare Mnyanza tree at Entarara Forest

and WRM sector. They were also trained to apply social accountability tools and processes, public participation guidelines and the importance of CSOs and citizens engaging in government-led planning and budgeting processes. Abigael Sein who is a member of the Entarara WRUA, patron of several youth groups, secretary of the Kajiado WRUA Council and a budget champion, says there has been an improvement in the allocation of financial resources for water and environmental conservation at the County due to lobbying by WRUA officials. The community has been invited to participate in decision-making processes and can now voice where they feel county water points should be located, push for funding for incomplete boreholes and influence

A bonus for the community has been the rehabilitation of Entarara Forest, a catchment for several springs. Previously besieged by excisions and human activity, the springs had dried up, forcing users to sink shallow wells. When it received protection from the County Government of Kajiado following lobbying by WRUA officials, the springs that had dried up sprung back in three years. Due to awareness efforts by WRUA officials, farmers now understand that uncontrolled abstraction of water upstream affects those living downstream and that it is likely to trigger tensions and human-wildlife conflict within the community - Abigael Ntawuasa



But there is another observation: degraded catchments and water points not only compromise WASH, but also impact heavily on the lives of rural women in Africa because, as mothers, caregivers, farmers and custodians of livestock, they are often the major water users. A strong and influential leader in a community where women traditionally lack a voice, Abigael is a mentor who educates fellow women and youth and speaks passionately about WRM and WASH, bringing soft power to the negotiating table in her roles as WRUA official, budget leader and County WRUA Summit member. Nothing underscores the need to involve more women in WRM to improve water, sanitation and hygiene.

Abigael Ntawuasa (R) harvesting French beans with Dareen Pius, one of her farm workers, under the shadow of Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro





Isinya: Women Cooperatives for Ecologically Sustainable Livelihoods

Penina Tombo is a 65-year-old retired nurse whose home lies in the semi-arid Isinya sub- county of Kajiado, Kenya. She has been involved in community development work targeting women, orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS since 1992. Once an open landscape inhabited by the pastoralist Maasai, land use in Isinya has changed drastically in the past four decades. Middle class Kenyans who work 60 kilometres away in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi have set up homes here. The Maasai are gradually shunning nomadism and setting up permanent dwellings. There is less pasture, and the huge Maasai livestock herds of yore are on the backpedal. Large scale commercial flower farms now dot the landscape. Light industries, too, which residents blame for air pollution and dumping of effluent along River Isinya, affect the quality of water downstream. All these human, agricultural and industrial activities require huge volumes of water, a challenge in a water-scarce area serviced by one seasonal river whose catchment is exposed to sand harvesting. The recourse is underground water, but heavy abstraction by flower farms and light industries sucks up all the water in shallow wells, compromising water sanitation and hygiene in the community.

Penina got involved in water resources management in 2009 when she sunk a shallow well that soon dried up after commercial flower farms and light industry factories moved into the area. Together with eight neighbours whose wells had also gone dry, they formed Isinya WRUA where she sits as vice-chair. With funding from Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF), the officials were trained by Watershed to develop a Sub-Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) which was registered in 2010. The WRUA deliberately sought membership from women, who now comprise 30 per cent of 100 households. “Like many others, our WRUA is not consulted when mega water projects that affect us are initiated, approved and implemented. We have also tried to reach out to the private investors, but they are disinterested,” Penina says. Through her training on leadership and governance under Watershed, Penina has organised women in her community into a 300-member cooperative for milk production. They join hands to improve the quality of their livestock and preserve pasture. They also harvest water from their roofs and channel it into tanks and water pans for use during dry seasons to mitigate climate change impacts. “Watershed training empowered women to speak up, seek leadership positions and initiate other development projects like this milk cooperative,” she says proudly.

Light industries illegally dump oils and chemical waste such as this site in Isinya



A yellow-barked Acacia tree affected by soil and water pollution at a site close to Penina Tombo’s home in Isinya



Kimana Swamp: Why Birds Fled the Nest

Kimana is an illustration of how rising human populations, changing lifestyles, unsustainable use, lethargy, competing stakeholders and lack of political goodwill can destroy a critical wetland. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, National Environment Authority (NEMA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Water Resources Authority (WRA) and the County Government of Kajiado are the key stakeholders, yet none has direct authority over this wetland. The land belongs to the local Maasai whose dwindling livestock numbers do not pay as well as agribusiness – even when the land is merely leased to farmers. Measuring 10,000 hectares, Kimana is the biggest wetland in Kajiado. Its influence spreads across geographical boundaries and ecosystems up to Tsavo West National Park and the Indian Ocean, hundreds of kilometres away. But this reservoir that once stored and provided water for thousands of people, livestock and wildlife for generations has been reduced to a swamp only in name. Sucked dry by commercial onion, tomato and French beans farmers, a biodiversity haven that once teemed with life is now a toxic, dying vegetable farm.

Outdated irrigation methods waste water, while fertilisers and deadly pesticides used to farm vegetables seep underground, poisoning water, soils and the people, livestock and wildlife that depend on it downstream. The damage extends further afield, as the produce ends up in plates in Nairobi and other urban centres spread across the country. A small township has also emerged on the swamp to feed the army of farmhands, loaders and drivers who earn a living here. Such unregulated developments discharge effluent into water systems. Upstream, 11 springs that used to drain into the swamp no longer do because of heavy abstraction for furrow irrigation. Logging, charcoal burning and encroachment onto riparian land have destroyed their catchment while shallow pit latrines have compromised water quality. Emmanuel Parsaloi is chairman of Ilkisonko WRUA which was registered in 2008. The WRUA manages these springs which are now demarcated and fenced. But the status of Kimana, from where hundreds of trucks laden with fresh farm produce drive out of daily, and the challenges that undermine its integrity weigh heavily on his mind. Why is it so difficult to gazette this wetland so that it is protected? Why is it so hard to enforce regulations so that the water resource is managed better to enable the community, our livestock and wildlife to access clean water? - Emmanuel Parsaloi His greatest fear is that destruction of the wetland and surrounding springs will not just affect water and sanitation services, but will also disrupt local livelihoods and economy.

Emmanuel Parsaloi & Francis Saigilo at Kimana Swamp



Kimana Swamp is presently a farm that supplies vegetables to Nairobi and beyond



Entasopia: Oasis between Wilderness and a Salty Lake

The Entasopia and Oloibortoto rivers water the springs of Nguruman in a 50-kilometre escarpment stretching close to the north- western corner of Lake Natron in Tanzania. Green and thick with indigenous trees, fruit trees, vegetation and farmland, Nguruman is a bustling, multi-ethnic community of fisherfolk, and fruit and vegetable farmers and traders. But from a primary water user’s perspective, this oasis lies in a complex basin. The farming community of Nguruman lives midstream and has no control over human activities on the catchment in the lush Loita Hills and Narok from where the two rivers flow. Up and over the escarpment, commercial farms need water for irrigation, while downstream, the arid land is dedicated to pasture for livestock whose survival is determined by how the Nguruman community manages water. In the middle stands the giant Tata Chemicals Magadi, Africa’s largest soda ash producer and biggest water consumer in Kajiado County. The company is located at Lake Magadi, a salty lake and breeding site for lesser flamingos. Entasopia WRUA Secretary Moses Lemunge worries that human population growth and lifestyle change from pastoralism to irrigated farming is exerting undue pressure on scarce

water resources; that droughts and floods are becoming more frequent because of climate change. The floods rip up pipes that distribute water to farms and cause massive erosion of the river banks, sweeping away trees that have protected the rivers for decades. The springs are in dire need of fencing to limit destruction from human activities and reduce conflicts arising from abuse of the resource. River banks that are eroded need to be rehabilitated, and damaged water distribution pipes and boxes repaired. Unfortunately, Entasopia WRUA is not in close ties with Tata Chemicals Magadi who, coincidentally, are members of the WRUA. Shunned by upstream large commercial farms that are not members despite being heavy water users, the WRUA is underfunded and incapable of protecting water resources in this basin. Consequently, regulations are not enforced. Water volumes have been decreasing substantially over the years, with the permanent Ewaso Ng’iro River, which rises from the Mau Escarpment, drying up completely in 2018. Entasopia WRUA Chairman and community elder, Kipas Minchor, says he has never seen this before. “We fear that, at one point in future, we might not have water in this place,” says Minchor.

Lesser flamingos in Lake Magadi



Kipas Minchor (L) and Moses Lemunge at Oloibortoto River in Nguruman, Magadi

There is a need to cultivate better relations with large water users upstream who are not affiliated to either Entasopia or WRUAs in Narok, but Minchor says efforts to reach out to them have been futile.

Destruction of this resource would impact water and sanitation, the livelihoods of thousands of pastoralists and smallholder farmers, and the operations of commercial farms and Tata Chemicals Magadi.

Tata Chemicals Magadi factory



Leveraging Resources for Catchment Management

An organisational capacity assessment and training by Watershed exposed the Summit members to resource mobilisation. The national and county stakeholders were identified - some were part of the training - and their offices visited to seek support for project activities. Part of these initiatives have borne fruit. Based on their SCMP, Nalepo WRUA, for instance, successfully secured EUR 85,000 from Water Resources Authority (WRA) in 2019 to undertake activities aimed at reducing surface run-off, water pollution and recharging groundwater for sustainable sanitation and hygiene services. WRUA officials, however, still require basic training on proposal writing to enable them to exploit more funding opportunities. Watershed also helped the Summit to establish links with the County Government. The officials were trained on the four stages of budgeting – formulation of budget items, approval of budget items and amounts, and execution and evaluation. Once equipped, the officials put their lobbying skills into action, negotiating an increase in budget allocation for water governance between 2018 and 2020. “Because WRUAs are not recognised within the County’s legal framework, we now lobby county officials to ensure that our views are considered when water projects are planned or executed.

Emmanuel Memusi - Chairman, Kajiado County WRUA Summit

The Kajiado County WRUA Summit is one of the most innovative outputs of the Watershed Programme. With representatives drawn from each of the 17 WRUAs in the County, the Summit, formed in 2018, is a strong lobbying and advocacy platform. It also provides water managers and community leaders a holistic view of the entire county water ecosystem for better management and distribution of the resource. Kajiado WRUAs grapple with many challenges related to funding and capacity. Out of 17, only five have received support from WRA. Most SCMPs need review, and a majority of the WRUAs are yet to implement planned activities due to financial challenges. This reinforces the need to explore and cultivate support from other stakeholders in the water sector.

How do our voices reach the big person? How do we bring grassroots people and key decision makers under one platform? - Emmanuel Memusi



For instance, 70 per cent of the boreholes drilled by the County have stalled. We believe this would not be the case had there been community inclusion and participation,” says Summit Chairman, Emmanuel Memusi. There is a multiplicity of players, both government and non-governmental, that are involved in water governance in Kajiado. The Summit believes WRM and WASH objectives will be better realised if WRUAs target key decision- makers, particularly within the Kajiado County. “Senior County staff get transferred too frequently, forcing the Summit to initiate fresh lobbying with each appointment. That is why targeting key decision-makers is more strategic,” says Summit member, Abigael Sein. As an umbrella organisation, the Summit aspires to work toward well protected and demarcated water sources and equitable sharing of clean water. This can only be achieved through better collaboration between WRUAs and all County WRM and WASH stakeholders. Penina Tombo, who is a member of the Summit, believes water governance would improve if more women were involved in decision-making. “Ultimately, it is women who manage the water and decide what to do with it,” she says.

Through the capacity building that Watershed equipped the WRUAs, there was marked interest by the community in the public forums organised by the County Government. Budget allocation for water development was crucial for the citizens as this is a water-scarce area. For the 2017/2018 total county budget, water and environment was allocated KES 381 million (4.66 per cent of total budget), KES 531 million (5.53 per cent of 2018/2019 budget) and KES 590 million (5.92 per cent of 2019/2020 budget).

Caleb Muinde, Statistician at Department of Finance, County Government of Kajiado

Pit latrine at Kimana Swamp



Using Media to Amplify Community Voices

governance issues. The programme is also an arena for the community to air views on water and the environment. “The information we provide is credible and authoritative. We know the issues we discuss percolate to the government because our radio programme is co-hosted by a County Environment official. We also engage CSOs that have interests in water and environmental conservation,” Juma says. The budget champion believes conserving the catchment is as critical as drilling new boreholes. He is lobbying the County Government through his radio platform to enact a water policy and the legislation to govern the Environment, Climate Change, Sand Harvesting and Renewable Energy sector. Juma views the media as a vital link between the government and the community through which information on water governance can be shared and illegal activities and government lapses in the sector exposed.

Bus Radio is a local broadcasting station and community-based organisation in Kajiado. Launched in 2017, it broadcasts over a 60-Kilometre radius and livestreams on Facebook. The Station’s biggest fan base comprises women and youths. Broadcaster Victor Juma, a water budget champion who was trained on lobbying and advocacy under the Watershed Programme, is passionate about governance, issues affecting youths and the management of environment and water resources. Water is both an urban and rural problem here. We are farmers and pastoralists in a water-stressed land. Water and its governance should be given priority over health, education and infrastructure in Kajiado County budgets, but this is not the case. The young journalist uses his media celebrity status and the Station’s Maji ni Uhai (Water is Life) talk show as a platform to create awareness about water rights and responsibilities and to lobby county government officials on water

Victor Juma of Bus Radio in Kajiado Town



Policy Gaps in Coordination of WASH and WRM

the Water Service Providers (WSPs). Turf wars emerge when the County Government develops water supply infrastructure such as boreholes without obtaining abstraction permits from WRA as defined in the Fourth Schedule of the Water Act. This indiscriminate sinking of boreholes has an implication on water quality and quantity in the water-scarce county. Key water governance concerns in Kajiado are related to the conservation and allocation of available water resources to meet human, livestock and wildlife needs. This can be a challenge when policy gaps and overlaps create tension, conflict, confusion or competition between county and national government agencies. There is need to improve collaboration between WRA and the County Government as a matter of policy. This would help align water policy plans and budgets for better resource mobilisation and allocation. WRUAs have a critical role to play in WRM and WASH. They should be self-sustaining, but this is not the case. Only a fraction of water users are signed up members and payment of membership fees is poor. Aligning SCMPs to County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) would avail human and financial capital for water resources management and make WRUAs more effective. More awareness of the rights and responsibilities of water users is needed to bridge WRM and WASH. Local administration can support WRUAs in awareness creation and enforcement of regulations under the Chiefs’ Authority Act (Chapter 128) which empowers them to “prevent the pollution of the water in any stream, watercourse or waterhole, and the obstruction of any stream or watercourse”. More collaboration between the County Government and other stakeholders is also needed to enforce WASH.

Robert Owaga - Water Conservation Officer, WRA, Nolturesh-Lumi Sub-Region

Kajiado County produces a lot of water but is classified as a water-scarce area with supply standing at 50 per cent of demand because topographical challenges hinder supply. Indeed, water is the subject of political conflict with the neighbouring and downstream counties of Machakos and Makueni who utilise the bulk of the water from Kajiado. The Water Resources Authority (WRA) is responsible for the collaborative management of water resources, including wetlands, and the resolution of user conflicts at the community level in Kenya (Water Act, 2016). Roles may however overlap where some wetlands are located in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

Kajiado County Government, on the other hand, is in charge of water distribution through







Laikipia County: Scarcity in Abundance

Strengthening Public Private Partnerships in Laikipia

Laikipia’s Upper Ewaso Ng’iro basin encompasses urban dwellers, large and small holding farmers and pastoralists. The highland areas are blessed with abundant rainfall and permanent rivers and springs. But water issues here are thorny, particularly on the communities who dwell on the lower, semi-arid reaches of the basin served with only one permanent river, seasonal rivers and streams. Intense land sub-division, unregulated irrigation and water wastage in this dry area have reduced river flow, leading to conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, and humans and wildlife on the other hand. During severe droughts, desperate pastoralists drive cattle up the mountain and hills, compromising the ecological integrity of the water catchments. The situation is compounded by climate change, with droughts becoming longer and floods more frequent. Mount Kenya-Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) was established by growers and conservancies out of the realisation that a focused group dealing with water to drive conservation and equitable distribution of the limited resource was needed to support voluntary WRUAs which were ineffective because of inadequate capacity and lack of resources. Comprising six wildlife conservancies, 30 WRUAs, 17 commercial flower farmers from the Mt Kenya Growers Group, two research institutions and environmental state agencies such as WRA, KFS, KWS and NEMA, MKEWP covers the five counties of Nyeri, Laikipia, Isiolo, Nyandarua and Meru that form the water basin for all rivers streaming from Mt Kenya and the Aberdares Range.

and member associations, the Council sits thrice a year as a platform for strategy development, coordination, planning, information sharing and collaboration. MKEWP Coordinator Stanley Kirimi, also Watershed lead for Wetlands International in Laikipia County, says the association’s main objective is to build capacity for WRUAs to enable them to execute their functions in partnership with public and private institutions. Most critical are downstream communities where WRUAs are weak because of several issues, notably the feeble attachment by pastoralists to land and rivers.

Stanley Kirimi, MKEWP Coordinator

“The national government should use water fees paid to WRA to facilitate WRUAs so that they can monitor compliance of regulations along rivers and curb catchment destruction,” Kirimi observes. MKEWP has developed a management model to improve the capabilities of these water associations to carry out their functions.

At the apex is the MKEWP Council. With representatives drawn from county governments



Citing Ngusishi River WRUA in Timau as an example of what other water user associations can achieve if well resourced, Kirimi says the association has river scouts and offices. Funded by commercial entities and the local community, the WRUA can monitor abstraction, pollution and conduct riparian protection activities. “MKEWP is currently lobbying county governments to adopt this management model dubbed WRUA Institutional Development Project where WRUAs are tied to performance contracts and funded by members and WRA. This initiative is supported by Watershed and other stakeholders,” MKEWP Water Officer James Mwangi says.

MKEWP is also assisting WRUAs to lobby county governments so that SCMPs are incorporated in County Integrated Development Plans and budgets. This would bridge the policy and legal gaps that have subjected WRUAs to minimal support and funding from county governments. While the current focus is on conservation and equitable sharing of the water resource, change of land use from pastoralism to farming is exposing rivers to pollution and erosion. Further, many urban centres lack sewerage facilities, while those that do have inadequate capacity to remove nitrates and phosphates from sewerage before discharging treated water into rivers. This compromises water quality and WASH.



Maji Chap Chap: Bringing Rain Water to the Kitchen Table

Ewaso Maji Users (EMU) Sacco is a community- based financer for the five MKEWP counties. The Sacco enables members to be water secure by borrowing affordable loans, dubbed Maji Chap-Chap, for installing water harvesting infrastructure. It is the only water Sacco in Kenya. With current membership standing at 250 and growing, the Sacco partners with manufacturers and suppliers to help members acquire quality products for harvesting and storing rainwater at discounted rates. The manufacturers and suppliers also link members to qualified and certified technicians. Once the infrastructure is installed, water for household use is harvested and stored in tanks while the excess is channelled into water pans for irrigation and livestock use. Maji Chap-Chap enables farmers to shift from rain-fed agriculture so that they can produce crops all year round and depend less on irrigation during dry seasons. This not only cushions them from the impacts of climate change but also eases pressure on scarce river water during droughts and improves livelihoods. In addition, it assures sanitation and hygiene in the dry months of the year when river water is minimal or unavailable.

Susan Gathoni, CEO EMU Sacco

“Members who have taken up this initiative are now model farmers. Our challenge is capital growth, which has been affected by the COVID pandemic. The county governments have expressed interest but yet to get involved. We, however, hope to start a revolving fund that will inject capital into the Sacco so that it can run on its own,” says Susan Gathoni, MKEWP Water Officer and CEO, EMU Sacco.

Patrick Maina at his farm in Nanyuki, Laikipia



Best Practice in Sustainable Water Resource Management

Patrick Maina, an EMU Sacco beneficiary, is a Nanyuki-based water technician and smallholder farmer. Rainwater from all the roofs in his home is harvested and channelled into storage tanks and water pans. Overflow from the reservoirs is directed onto a field where he grows fodder for hay while household wastewater is recycled and channelled to a banana farm. No water goes to waste on his farm. Maina utilises the stored water during the dry season and employs drip irrigation and technology adapted to locally available resources to minimise wastage and maximise efficiency. He keeps livestock and fish and grows drought resistant, high yielding crops on his model farm which is also a training centre for farmers from water-scarce counties such as Kajiado and Kitui.

Tim Hobbs runs a 25-hectare mixed organic farm inNanyuki. It is the only certified carbon neutral business in Kenya. The enterprise produces roses and summer flowers for export and also engages in livestock farming, beekeeping and sustainable forestry. The farm uses 1,000 cubic metres of water a day. The greenhouses collect rainwater which is channelled into dams and lagoons. All runoff is collected into a 20-acre dam with a spillover into the Burguret River. This bulk water storage facility is designed to sustain the farm for 90 days, thus eliminating the need for abstraction when river volumes are low. Water for domestic use is sourced from a borehole on the farm.

Patrick Maina with a water filter

Tim Hobbs at his flower farm in Nanyuki

“Efficient water harvesting, high value crops and improved farming techniques should be exploited to improve WASH, boost household incomes, improve livelihoods and conserve water resources in semi-arid areas.” - Stanley Kirimi



Changing Times for Pastoralists

Kudoti WRUA is based in the semi-arid Mukogodo Location of Laikipia North with only 105 registered members out of 3,000 water users. Payment of water fee is poor and irregular, making it difficult for the WRUA to execute activities outlined in their SCMP. Kudoti water users are split into upper, mid and lower zones. The upper zone has a surface dam and one borehole constructed by the County Government. The mid zone has one surface dam on Loirien River while the lower zone has one surface dam and three boreholes dedicated to the community. Two dams are dedicated for Doldol Town. All the dams were constructed by a donor. Access to water in the interior is a challenge, especially during prolonged dry spells when residents walk 5-10 kilometres to the nearest spring. But because dams built for wildlife have silted up, elephants troop to the springs too, destroying vegetation and creating conflict with locals. The community abuts the Samburu who, in times of drought, migrate to Mukogodo in search of pasture in the forest that serves as a catchment for the area’s springs and seasonal rivers.

Daniel Kimalel, Kudoti WRUA Chair

We post community scouts to protect the springs from human destruction and have a grazing committee to secure key areas of the forest from livestock.

They however need two boreholes repaired, water piped to the interior, a dam for wildlife, earth dams for livestock and shallow wells for domestic use. In remote pastoralist communities such as Mukogodo, stakeholders must make a deliberate effort to reach and strengthen WRUAs, raise awareness and invest more in provision of water in sufficient quantities and quality for domestic and livestock use.

Climate change is a threat to pastoralists who are forced to cover longer distances for pasture and water



Never Take Water for Granted

As a young girl, I would walk two kilometres to the seasonal Loisukuut River in search of water for domestic use. Today, women and girls spend three to four hours per trip as the water volume has decreased and livestock, which always have top priority in our community, also drink from the same water point. For womenfolk in my community and even the larger Laikipia North, 20-litres of water is pure gold. I first saw water running from a tap at age 12 when I joined a boarding school and marvelled at the water gushing from a shower. Up to date, we have no tap water. Those who have water take it for granted. In my home area, 10 people can use one cup of water at times. We have partnered with a foundation to mitigate the effects of climate change at the local level because weather disparities severely impact persons with disabilities. This initiative includes campaigning against uncontrolled sand harvesting and pollution of Loisukuut River to stop erosion of the river bank and destruction of the acacia trees which guard the catchment that sustains our people.

Jacinta Silakan of Sangida Foundation is also a member of Kudoti Community

When the COVID pandemic broke out, we were hit with a new realisation. The markets were shut down. We could not get any vegetables. It was during this period that we, together with another organisation, initiated an empowerment programme to explore alternative livelihoods such as chicken rearing and vertical gardening. Some 100 families have taken up this initiative to supplement their nutrition and income.

For womenfolk, a 20-litre container of water is pure gold





Tim Hobbs, Chairman, Mount Kenya Growers Group

Awareness and Efficiency to Curb Wastage

In this area, there used to be a perception that commercial farmers were using up most of the water in our rivers, but this is not the case. In reality, community water projects use over 80 per cent of the water abstracted from rivers. The more pertinent question for Mount Kenya Growers Group and other water users is, how efficiently are we using our water? Inefficiency, wrong irrigation technology and wasteful practices should be curbed through education and awareness. A case in point is when we came across a farmer irrigating his wheat crop using overhead sprinklers at midday on a windy day. We also have thousands of water users who are neither registered with a WRUA nor pay water fees. They exploit the resource at no cost and are likely to misuse and waste it because if you do not pay for something, there is a tendency not to appreciate it. Despite policy gaps, our regulatory framework for water governance is generally sound. However, the biggest impediment is weak implementation and inadequate enforcement due to budgetary constraints.

Another weakness is the absence of a holistic approach to WRM in large water basins with multiple users such as Ewaso Ng’iro North which transcends county administrative boundaries. This is the coordination gap that MKEWP is trying to fill. For instance, during the dry season, pastoralists move their herds up the mountain in search of pasture – not water. Unfortunately, the link between pasture management and conservation is rarely recognised as a WRM strategy. This means individuals and groups pursue their water interests with little consideration for the needs of others. The connection between people upstream and those downstream is also distant and a lot of sensitisation is needed to cement an understanding that what happens upstream affects the pastoralists downstream. The potential for commercial agriculture for employment and economic growth in this region is immense, but only if the resource is conserved and shared equitably.

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