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Bungoma County fails to tap full potential of waterfalls

By Alexander Chagema | August 26th 2021


Nabuyole Water Falls in Webuye, Bungoma County. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The deafening roar of water from the four tributaries of River Nzoia greets visitors as they enter Nabuyole Falls in Webuye.

The frothing water as it cascades down rock overhangs is captivating, yet scary at the same time.

At the foot of the waterfalls, the four tributaries merge into a single, wide river that snakes down a narrow gorge on its way to Mumias, Budalangi, and finally to Lake Victoria.

During the rainy season, the swelling River Nzoia contributes to the flooding menace in Budalang’i, Busia County. But despite this downside, there is a positive to Nabuyole Falls.

“Water from Nabuyole Falls caters for the needs of residents from Webuye town and its environs,” explains Chrispinus Olela, a water operator in the production section of Nzoia Water Services Company.

“There is a weir just above the waterfall that is used to build up water volume. This is done at the intake point before the water is released into the treatment area. The positioning of the weir is such that it uses gravity, instead of pumps, to push the water into the treatment plant.”

Nzoia Water Company is at the edge of the Nabuyole Falls, a guarded area that denies visitors access to the top of the Nabuyole Falls for safety reasons.

Adjoining areas are mainly rocky and have been turned into quarries where residents eke out a livelihood breaking stones for construction.

Nabuyole Falls in Webuye [File]

Next to the falls is a piece of land that residents say was given to President Jomo Kenyatta by one of the residents in the 1970s. An indigenous tree planted by Kenyatta bears witness of his presence at the Nabuyole Falls.

In a section of the quarry, Beatrice Nasike sits, unbothered by noise from the waterfalls a few meters behind her, as she crushes stones while waiting for buyers.

“I have no choice but to do this work to raise fees for my children, since I am a widow,” says the elderly woman who has worked at the quarry for three years.

“Many people are drawn to the beauty of Nabuyole, especially students and tourists who come to marvel at the scenic falls.

“But, we feel that the Bungoma County has neglected this place despite its potential as a source of income for the county,” notes Olela.

“The county government has failed to market its signature products like these falls and the Elephant Sanctuary in Mt Elgon,” says Namanda Nasila, a board member of the Bungoma County Experience Team that links up with the Tourism Board of Kenya.

Of all the Western Kenya counties, Bungoma has the highest number of tourist attraction sites, but they lack much-needed exposure to attract tourists, he adds.

Nasila is the county’s representative in the Lake Victoria Tourism Association that is made up of 14 counties in the western Kenya region.

Plans to generate electricity from the waterfalls have run into headwinds for several reasons.

“Some time back, a foreign company showed up here with the intention of generating power from the falls. We were later informed that feasibility studies by the contractor showed that the falls do not have sufficient force to generate electricity,” said Olela.

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