In the northern region of this country, the importance of water is not comparable to anything else.
The commodity which is entirely referred to as life throughout the world is so scarce in this arid and semi-arid part of Kenya to the extent that no single meeting to deliberate on development would pass without residents in any area placing provision of water on the top of their priority list.
Climate change has compounded the situation with the drought cycle turning out to be a regular issue threatening the source of livelihoods for the local communities who are predominantly livestock keepers.
The pastoralists living in Marsabit County of the upper eastern region have suffered repeated dry spells occasioning agricultural production failure and famine.
The government through the Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority (ENNDA) has been making efforts to put in place sound management of any available surface and ground water resources within the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin.
ENNDA Managing Director Eng Ali Ibrahim Hassan said authority has constructed a mega dam at Muthe in Bubisa location of North Horr constituency to address these challenges at a cost of sh 230, 110,000
Chafa Chachane is a multi-purpose earth dam with a capacity of 682,000 cubic meters would apart from providing water supply to the about 8,000 residents of Muthe and surrounding areas will also offer floods control.
Eng Hassan while on an inspection tour of the project in the company of Marsabit County Commissioner Paul Rotich among other officials said the goal of the project is to contribute to poverty reduction through improved natural resources conservation and management.
This area receives less than 900 mm of erratic and unreliable rainfall annually while the average evaporation rate is in excess of 1800 mm in some parts.
“It is estimated that of the total rainfall 30 is run-off and it is therefore important to harvest and conserve as much of this direct run-off for human and livestock consumption” said the MD.
Eng Hassan said the construction of the dam was one of the priority projects identified under the Water Resources Development and Management component that entails the development of water points in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of the basin.
The area is inhabited by Pastoralist communities whose economic mainstay is livestock raring that include cattle, goats and sheep, camels and donkeys.
There is also wildlife whose number is at 6,000 to the combined figure of 203,000 of livestock herds that had to trek many kilometers in search of the commodity.
The Project’s specific objective is to improve water resources management and to provide water for both human and livestock use.
The county commissioner said the government was striving to offer effective services to the people by prioritizing their needs and putting the scarce resources into proper use.
Mr Rotich pointed out that there were few permanent settlements in the area because the community is always moving from place to place in search of pasture.
He said man-hours wasted by residents walking long distances to watering points especially by women and children would be greatly reduced and put into more productive use.
Mr Rotich added that with the availability of water, the condition of animals was expected to improve hence improve the food security and nutrition of the locals.
The county commissioner who expressed satisfaction on the workmanship applied said control of flush floods and erosion would go a long way in mitigating against climate change.
“Water is one of the essential elements of life and livelihoods of the people and this gesture is expected to improve on the living standards of the residents in a big way” the CC said.
Apart from the water pan, the project comprises elevated water tanks, a solar powered pump house and conveyance pipes.
By Sebastian Miriti