Major Rivers in Mt Kenya Region dry up causing conflict and devastation

A section of dried up Rupingazi river that passes through the Mwea Trust Land and without which area farmers are fearing losing acres of French bean crop and Miraa as well as their domestic animals. [Photo: Munene Kamau/Standard]

As the world marks the World Water Day, counties at the foot of the Aberdares and Mt Kenya region are devastated as the once flowing rivers slowly disappear.

In Kirinyaga County farmers who depend on river water irrigation in the vast Mwea Trust land could lose crop worth millions of shillings after Rupingazi river dries up.

The horticulture farmers say only small lagoons have been left after the main river dried up.

Rupingazi river whose source is Mt Kenya Forest is said to have been over used by miraa and french bean farmers downstream.

One french bean farmer John Gitari, who has 10 acres under crop, said unless the rains come within the course of this week, he is likely to lose all his crop. 

“I have depended on this river for all my irrigation water requirements but as you can see now only small lagoons are left with some water, which cannot even be pumped to irrigate an acre,” says Gitari. 

Miraa farmers in Gacuriri area have to fetch water in lorries or tankers from as far as Embu and Ngurubani towns to irrigate their crops. 

James Nyaga, a farmer with 20 acres of the crop, says he pays Sh1,000 for every 1,000 litres of water he uses on his crops.

Other farmers have installed water pumps at strategic places within the low volume river to irrigate their farms. 

In Nyeri, the ongoing dry spell in the Aberdares Forest region has opened a fresh battle between two public companies over water resources in Gura River.

An intake was placed to tap the river water for Gura hydro-power project, which started in 2012.

It was completed in 2015 and was meant to provide electricity to Gathuthi, Gitugi, Iria-ini and Chinga tea factories. 

Tetu Aberdare Water and Sanitation Company (Teawasco) has also tapped water from the same rive.

The two intakes have now significantly reduced water levels of Gura River, setting the two entities against each other.

And in Kieni, still in Nyeri, main rivers and streams have dried up, forcing residents to walk close to 6km in search of the commodity.

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World Water DayRupingazi riverMt Kenya regionDrought