Counties commit to save 'drying' streams of Ewaso Nyiro River

Residents take part in a walk to save the drying tributaries of the Ewaso Nyiro River. [Ali Manzu, Standard]

Three counties in Central and Northern Kenya have committed to saving the drying tributaries of the Ewaso Nyiro River, following a clarion call that revealed the extent of threats facing water sources in the large basin.

County government officials from Laikipia, Isiolo, and Nyeri made the commitment on Thursday, June 8 at a town hall conference in Isiolo.

The meeting was a culmination of a three-day walking campaign along Timau, Nanyuki, and Isiolo rivers which are the major tributaries of the 700km Ewaso Nyiro River which drains into the Lorian Swamp.

Over five hundred people, many of them community members, participated in the walk by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Kenya), in a project dubbed 'Catchment to Tap.'

Residents noted the extensive over-abstraction and illegal water connections for agricultural use as well as widespread poor irrigation methods that contribute to the wastage of water and agrichemicals solutions.

The Laikipia Executive Committee Member for Water, Environment, and Natural Resources Leah Njeri said the county government will focus its energies on saving the Nanyuki River over the next one year.

"We are going to pick a river, most likely Nanyuki, and focus our resources and conserve our water sources," said Njeri.

Isiolo County, on the other hand, noted that it will sink ten boreholes to tap groundwater.

"Water is life and demand is increasing day by day. We are embarking on drilling boreholes to tap groundwater and sink 10 boreholes every financial year starting in the FY 2024," said Godana Dida, Chief Officer of Water and Sanitation, Isiolo County.

Her neighbor, Nyeri County said it will undertake riparian conservation and catchment rehabilitation for three rivers, namely: Chania, Naromoru, and Nairobi. "We'll also be incorporating the water resources users' association into our budget because we reviewed the county water Act," said Jeniffer Mugi, Chief Officer of Water Irrigation and Climate Change.

During the open forum, participants recommended calling for greater involvement of county and national government leadership in sustainable management of water, promotion of best farming practices, addressing the issue of reducing water levels and increased pollution of rivers through the use of agrochemicals.