Construction of the Sh20 billion Mwache Dam will begin in March next year. The project, which is co-funded by the World Bank and the government, will harness the flood flows from the Mwache River basin in Kinango sub-county and help tackle persistent water shortages in the region.
The dam is expected to boost water supply in Kwale and Mombasa counties. When complete, the dam will cover 2,600 hectares of land under irrigation in Kwale County, said Coast Development Authority Managing Director Mohamed Keinan.
“We are currently increasing the forest cover for the entire Mwache catchment area that stretches from Taita Taveta County to Kwale,” he said while on a monitoring and evaluation visit to the project site.
Keinan said other ongoing activities include tree planting, terracing, contour ploughing, rock terracing, gabion construction, and riparian marking and pegging to allow for the regeneration of natural vegetation.
He said population growth and growing demand for precious water resources has accelerated the construction of the mega-dam.
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“But now plans to begin construction were given fresh impetus when the government secured the required funding,” said Dr Keinan.
The CDA MD said the government is banking on the dam reservoir as one that will offer a lasting solution to the water shortfall facing residents of Kwale and Mombasa.
The Mwache catchment management is being implemented by the CDA Project Implementation Unit (CDA PIU) in partnership with the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs), Kwale County Government, the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS), the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KeFRI) and the local community.
Currently, the agency is helping train smallholder farmers and water users associations around the project site with modern farming techniques.
CDA project site manager William Fondo said the gabions built-in gullies are a soil and water conservation practice used to cope with soil loss and reservoir situation.
He said the consequent slowing-down of the flowing water limits flood-waves, reduces soil loss upstream, and promotes water infiltration into the soil.
“The gabion check dams reduce soil erosion and preserve reservoir storage capacity,” said Fondo.
Ms Eunice Bosibori of Water Resource Authority said the enhanced rehabilitation works around the project site was to improve access to safe and clean water for domestic and irrigation use.
“Accumulation of silt reduces dam water holding capacity hence the need to put mechanism against siltation,” she said.
She said the crucial water project will in the long run help Kwale and Mombasa counties achieve climate-smart farming.
Several residents around the project site welcomed the dam rehabilitation and improvement activities.
They said the training on modern farming techniques has improved their yields thus fetching good income.
Esther Keya, a local farmer said the surrounding community has been able to get better yields since they embraced agricultural terracing and the use of organic farming.