Embu County Government has embarked on plans to alleviate perennial water shortage in the ASAL Sub-Counties of Mbeere North and South in a bid to turn them into the next county breadbasket.
Governor Cecily Mbarire said they had identified key projects including sinking of boreholes and construction of earth dams to store runoff water to turnaround the fortunes of locals who rely on agriculture as the main economic activity.
To this effect, the governor said her administration was in the process of procuring a borehole drilling machine specifically for the two areas that would also make a huge saving in terms of cost that could be incurred in outsourcing drilling services from private entities.
She also said her county administration in the process of desilting some of the existing earth dams in readiness for the upcoming long rains in partnership with the World Bank funded National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP).
Speaking during a tour of Gitinangugu and Kangondo dams in Mavuria and Kiambere Wards respectively, the county boss said the future of the county lay in agriculture and thus all efforts must be made towards stimulating the sector.
“Harvesting of water and exploiting other sources such as boreholes and pans was the way to unlock the county’s agricultural potential,” she said.
Governor Mbarire also said plans were at an advanced stage of putting up infrastructure that would see locals supplied with water from Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) dams in the area.
She said it was a shame that locals especially in Mbeere South were suffering, yet the area is home to the majority of the Seven Forks Dams including Gitaru, Kindaruma, Kamburu and Kiambere.
She reported that the government had given them the nod to put in place measures that would ensure locals benefit from the dams.
“We are looking for ways to move water uphill and then distribute it to locals through gravity,” the Governor said, adding that design work had been done awaiting funding from the exchequer.
Water crisis in the area has of late sparked a huge uproar following diversion of their main water source, Thiba River, upstream in the neighbouring Kirinyaga County.
The locals have accused their neighbours of abstracting large volumes of the river water to irrigate their farms leaving them with nothing.
On Monday, locals within Machang’a area paralyzed transport along the busy Embu-Kanyonyo road after holding demonstrations demanding for the unblocking of the river.
It took the intervention of the governor to have normalcy restored after promising to follow-up the matter and ensure normal water flow resumes immediately.
However, leaders and locals in the area have called for lasting solutions to end the perennial water crisis.
Mbeti South MCA Mureithi Kiura said the crisis called for a paradigm shift from rain fed to irrigated agriculture in light of effects of climate change.
By Samuel Waititu