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VAS

ELECTION 2022

Water rationing hits residents as rivers and dams in the Rift shrink

NATIONAL
By Lynn Kolongei | Apr 4th 2022 | 4 min read

Eldowas has had to run an initiative dubbed ‘Linda Maji’ to encourage residents to use the available water sparingly. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Abraham Chumo, a fisherman, sits pensively on a stone next to the Two Rivers dam in Kipkorgot, Uasin Gishu County.

His right hand holds a fishing rod, which he flies through the air before it lands in the water.

But a look at the water shows how the once full dam is now almost empty. It has shrunk over the months due to the dry spell.

The papyrus reeds which surround the dam were once vibrant and green with life. They are now dry. The available water barely gets to the periphery where the reeds grow.

Between the reeds and the water in the centre of the dam is bare soil that cracks under the scorching sun.

When The Standard approached Mr Chumo, a father of four, he explained how he has earned his living through fishing at the dam for five years.

He said the drought has hurt his business as he cannot get enough fish as he did before. He added that although there have been dry seasons before, the water levels never dropped as they have now.

“Sometimes the dam would be so full that people would be barred from accessing this point for safety. But now, it is so dry that children even play soccer here,” Mr Chumo said.

Kolol dam in Uasin Gishu County is drying up due to prolonged drought. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

“I have stopped selling fish and only come here to get food for my family. Getting vegetables during this dry season is costly,” the fisherman added.

Mr John Mwaniki, a landlord in Eldoret, opted to drill boreholes to ensure his tenants get enough water.

“The water issue in Eldoret is becoming of great concern. Our tenants require enough water and if we fail to provide then they will move out. The majority of us are now drilling boreholes to solve this problem,” he said.

The rivers which intertwine into Two Rivers Dam have completely dried up. The man-made waterfall which would normally be overflowing with water is also dry.

The dam, just like other rivers, including Kipsinende and Sosiani, is a major source of water for thousands of homesteads. The drought has affected milk production in the region where many practice dairy farming.

Resident Elijah Kiptoo urged the government to ensure the conservation of water catchments and forests to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Deforestation

“It is distressing to see main rivers drying up. We have never experienced this. The government needs to be at the front line in ensuring the conservation of water towers. Those responsible for deforestation should be dealt with,” Mr Kiptoo said.

He added that water vendors are cashing in on the shortage, selling 20-litre containers for Sh30.

Other residents have urged the county government to ensure the completion of water projects.

With the prevailing drought in many parts of Uasin Gishu County, thousands of residents are facing acute water shortages following decreasing water levels in major rivers.

Eldoret Water and Sewerage Sanitation Company (Eldowas) states that Two Rivers Dam has a capacity of 14,950 cubic metres and is the second-largest water reservoir after Moiben dam which is 26,000 cubic metres.

Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas) Managing Director Mr Peter Kibet Biwott. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

The Two Rivers dam is situated at the confluence of Endoroto and Ellengirini rivers, both of which feed into the larger Sosiani River.

Eldowas recently issued a notice to about one million of its customers about rationing water due to the low volumes.

“Due to the prolonged drought, levels at our dams have gone down and the amount of water being distributed has reduced,” said Eldowas managing director Peter Biwott.

Eldowas has had to run an initiative dubbed ‘Linda Maji’ to encourage residents to use the available water sparingly. Mr Biwott said the dams will be recharged once the anticipated long rains come. Service providers only supply 43 million litres daily, while the region requires more than 60 million litres per day.

The company said the water levels in the two main rivers and the Ellegirini dams which account for more than 45 per cent of the company’s water supply are critical.

“This leaves the Chebara water supply system operating at maximum capacity and the only remaining water supplier to Eldoret and its environs. But the volumes there are also declining,” Mr Biwott said.

He added that the major challenge the water company is facing is the conservation of water catchment areas, logging in the forests, and human activities along river banks.

Mr Biwott said the company is depending on one water source, River Moiben, to serve Eldoret town and its environs.

He urged residents to plant indigenous trees to conserve the environment and prevent the drying up of rivers in the future.

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