For many years, pastoralists and farmers in Tana River County have had conflicts arising from the sharing of natural resources, especially during the dry seasons.
The conflicts have led to bloody clashes between them, with farmers claiming that pastoralists were deliberately driving their animals in farms and destroying crops.
The national government now seeks to end this by providing water and pasture in the hinterland to stop pastoralists from migrating to the river Tana basin where plenty of water and grass are found in all seasons.
It is now implementing multi-million shilling water projects across Tana River County to ease pressure on agricultural land by pastoralists and to end the perennial conflicts.
Since 2014, the government has spent close to Sh.472 million from the Equalization Fund to construct water pans in all the three sub counties with a view solving perennial conflicts between farmers and pastoralists that have led to deadly clashes in the past.
Another Sh.211 million is yet to be paid to contractors, who are still constructing a number of water pans that are at different stages of completion, most of them above 95 per cent complete, the County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) heard on Tuesday.
John Nderitu Miriam from the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) and Eng. Raphael Mutiso from the State Department of Irrigation, Nairobi, listed a total of 16 water pan projects being implemented in Garsen, Bura and Galole constituencies, some of which had been completed and others ongoing.
“Our main aim is to ease pressure on agricultural land so that pastoralists do not move into agricultural land and interfere with crops, a factor that has led to clashes in the past,” Mutiso said.
Mutiso said the national government, through the State Department of Irrigation, was spending Sh.104.9 million to construct Dide Ade and Tank E water pans in Garsen Sub County out of which it had already paid about Sh.45 million
He said in Galole constituency, the department was spending Sh.138 million implement Bula Youth, Haroresa, Maderte and Kalkacha water pans of which Sh.85 million had been paid to contractors.
In Bura constituency, the government was spending Sh.147 million to construct Adhama, Bangale, Gurujo and Taqe water pans of which Sh.77 million had already been paid.
Miriam added six more projects had been constructed to the tune of Sh.293 million across the county, although Mutiso said he needed time to verify the existence of Tawfiq and Waldena water pans as they had not been captured in his department’s database.
“Before we declare these two water pans as ghost projects, I will need some time to verify with our database,” Mutiso told the committee that was chaired by County Commissioner (CC), Oning’oi Ole Sosio in his Board room.
The committee expressed concern over delay in the implementation of projects due to late disbursement of funds and called on the Department of Irrigation and the National Treasury to expedite payments to contractors to avoid unnecessary delays.
Sosio asked officials from Ministry Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Semi-Autonomous Government Sagas reporting projects to the committee to be truthful as the PDU had most of the data in its possession.
He reiterated that the national government was undertaking more projects than the County governments although many people had been made to believe that the devolved administrations were doing more.
By Emmanuel Masha