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Divert Lake Victoria water to our dry regions

By Mohamed Guleid - Jun 28th 2022
A fisherman casts his net at Lake Victoria. [Phillip Orwa, Standard]

All living things require water to survive. As humans, about three-quarters of our body weight is made up of water.

The importance of water in human life cannot be gainsaid because water is required for domestic, agriculture, industry, and any other economic activity thinkable.

Proper sanitation without water is like living things without oxygen. Kenya is one of the most water-insecure countries in the world. Close to 50 per cent of the population has no access to clean water.

Yet a majority of Kenyans are dependent on agriculture and livestock as their main economic activities. Water is an important component of making our economy succeed. Nevertheless, as long as Kenya remains a water insecure country, our economy will remain fragile. Lack of access to water will continue retarding our development.

For Kenya to feed itself and become secure, it should maximise the use of land to grow food. The irony of Kenya’s water challenges is that there is plenty of water in Kenya. Unfortunately, we lose billions of gallons of water to the sea every year.

If well conserved, Kenya has enough water that can fulfil the needs of her people. In places where there is plenty of water, these waters can be diverted to places with less water. In addition to rain and underground water, another possible source of water that can satisfy the needs of the whole of Kenya is Lake Victoria.

This lake provides water for countries along the River Nile. Egypt and Sudan have managed to maximise on water flowing out from Lake Victoria. Some of the tributaries that fill out water into Lake Victoria from water catchment areas are from the Great Rift Valley and western Kenya.

If countries that don’t contribute to replenishing Lake Victoria are the largest beneficiaries of the water from this lake, then Kenya can also benefit from a huge reservoir of water. Diversion of water has been tried in several countries. The most well-known is the great man-made river of Libya.

The vision bearer for this project is the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. This project now supplies fresh water to more than 70 per cent of the country's population. The great man-made river is an artificial river that covers a distance of more than 1,600km, making it the longest in the world.

Another country that is undertaking a monumental transfer of water is China. South to North Water project is expected to divert close to 44 billion cubic litres of water annually to serve the arid northern parts of China. 

Once this water diversion plan is completed, hundreds of millions of Chinese will be supplied through this artificial diversion. Equally in Kenya, the water from Lake Victoria can be allowed to flow East and Westward to supply the major towns of Nakuru, Nairobi, and more importantly the arid regions of Northern Kenya. It is important for the government to come up with an innovative solution to solve the water insecurity we are facing.

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