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November 30, 2023
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Too many dams but little water to use

Poor design and siltation of most water dams in Kenya have increased the risk of floods when heavy rains pound the country.
Thousands of people face the risk of being swept
out of their homes as the water reservoirs overflow.
Crops and animals are also at risk.

Dry spells
For instance, Nyandarua county has 220 dams and
water pans, many of which were poorly designed and
constructed and are thus full of silt.
At Mwihoti dam, a resident, Joel Mwaniki, says the
water body has never benefitted the community
since construction in 2014.
“It can’t hold water because it has an outlet without
an inlet, and has also accumulated a high level of
silt. Mwihoti Secondary School community donated
the land for construction of the dam but the institution buys water during dry spells,” said Mr Mwaniki.
It is the same story at Munyeki dam, which was
meant to provide water for small-scale farming and

“The dam has a lot of mud, it’s very shallow to hold
and retain water for use in the dry season,” said a
resident, Jenericah Wangeci.
County water and environment executive Simon
Ng’ang’a said the dams will be renovated.
He attributes the pathetic state of the dams to
encroachment, illegal farming activities, and
“We are in the process of having the water bodies
transferred from Settlement Trustee Fund to
Nyandarua County Government, to enable us to do
the renovations. As it is now, the county government
is not the custodian hence frustrating our efforts to
initiate renovations. We are consulting with other
national government agencies to get a way forward,”
said Mr Ng’ang’a.
Besides desilting, the county government plans to
fence off the water bodies and plant environmentfriendly trees around them.

Decreased                                                                                                            In Laikipia County, dams and rivers that were on the
verge of drying up have regained their water volumes
thanks to the heavy rains. Late last year, the water
levels had decreased significantly as a result of prolonged drought.
Some of the affected dams are Wangwaci, Ndemu
Ndune, Ndurumo, Tandare, Ratia, Nyakinyua,
Gataracha, Kamunju, Gatirima, Migaa and Kiriko.

However, a spot check by the Water Kenya revealed
that the water pans are filling up.
At the 74-kilometre radius Wangwaci dam in Laikipia
West, the water volumes have gone back to normal.
The dam serves more than 5,000 families in the area.

“We were worried when we noticed that water levels
at the dam had started reducing. We thank God
because the dam has gone back to normal after the
rains,” said Mr Ezekiel Maina, a large scale tomato
But he said most of the rain water could go to waste
as many dams and pans in the region were not
desilted during the dry season
Rivers that had been affected include the Uwaso
Nyiro, that flows through Samburu County and
feeds into Lake Turkana. Others are Ol Arabel, Pesi,
Muktane, Gathara, Sundai, and Marura in Laikipia
Meanwhile, Agriculture and Irrigation Cabinet
Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said the government
has set aside more than Sh100 million for construction and desilting of dams in the region.

“We want to make sure the dams have enough water
to be used by residents during the dry seasons,” said
the CS.
The Turkwel dam in West Pokot County is full to
capacity although residents said the rains had
brought more crocodiles to it.
River Turkwel supplies water to the multi-purpose
dam that is the source for the Turkwel hydro-power
Although River Turkwel’s levels had dropped significantly during the dry season, the rains pounding the
region in the last one month had seen its levels rise.
A resident, Mr Solomon Amekam, said he had lost
two goats to crocodiles and asked the Kenya Wildlife
Service to fence off the dam to avoid more losses.
Most dams in Tana River county have been submerged by the floods with some spilling into the villages, displacing hundreds of people.
Residents in sections of Galole constituency and
larger parts of Tana Delta and Bura were forced to
move to higher grounds.
The county is experienced a humanitarian crisis with
about 24,000 people having been displaced.
In Kwale, the National Drought Management
Authority (NDMA) county coordinator Ramon Sherah said all dams in the county are filled with
water that will last for long and will address persistent shortages.

Speaking to the Water Kenya, Mr Shera said they
have addressed the problem of siltation in most of
the dams constructed by NDMA by building silt traps.
But in Taita-Taveta, residents are facing water shortages despite the heavy rains.
The county lacks conservation points, making billions of litres of water go to waste.
The dams which are largely relied on by residents for
domestic, livestock and irrigation use are Kishenyi
and Mwatate.
Kishenyi and Mwatate dams supply water to more
than 5,000 and 2,000 residents in Wundanyi and
Mwatate respectively.

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