Residents of Nguruman, Kajiado West sub- County have appealed to the national government to come to their rescue and repair the irrigation canals and pipes which were destroyed by flash floods in April 2018.
The more than 1,500 large and small -scale farmers who rely on irrigation are now facing imminent hunger and are struggling to survive as they can no longer produce enough food for domestic use and commercial purposes.
According to Nyumba Kumi Village elder, John Ole Ntukenya, the destruction of the water intakes and canals has cast a dull life over the Nkuruman region, an area that has for years been labelled as the food basket of Kajiado County.
“The collapse of the water intake in this area has caused us a lot of stress, we have three key agricultural areas Congo, Israel and Soweto villages that have completely been scaled down to zero in terms of food production. Women and children have also been forced to walk for over three kilometers to access water due to the destruction of the pipes,” said Ntukenya.
The area used to supply water-melons, mangoes, kales, maize, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, green grams, pepper and pawpaw to neighbouring Magadi, Ngong, Kajiado and Nairobi, but production has since gone down, Ntukenya added.
Some of the farmers used to grow water-melons and paw paws for export but can no longer meet the demand.
Ole Ntukenya’s sentiments were echoed by the area Chief, Lein Kanangai who said that the collapse of the project has led to an increase in engagements of social vices in the area by the locals as a way of averting poverty.
“Over 200 families in this area were all depending on the irrigation project to grow subsistence crops for domestic use and commercial purposes but since the floods swept away all the pipes these families have started to engage in other economic activities with others now selling illicit brews and Marijuana – a matter that we didn’t know before this happened so that they can feed their dependents.” Chief Kanangai noted.
Some residents however, added that they were not consulted before the irrigation project was started and blamed engineers who designed the water intakes for doing a shoddy job which resulted in millions of shillings being literary swept away by raging waters.
The cries of the residents were heard by the County Development Implementation Coordination committee (CDICC) when they toured the area to assess the destruction of the multi-million irrigation project.
The County Commissioner (CC), Joshua Nkanatha, who is the Chair of the committee, revealed that water and agricultural experts would immediately embark on finding a long term solution that would prevent future destruction of water intakes and pipes when it floods.
“We have agreed that all parties involved will seek a permanent solution so that no money is lost again through destruction of multi-million projects by floods. The water canals, pipe and intakes must be repaired as soon as possible so that residents can be able to produce agricultural crops like they used to” Nkanatha said.
He further challenged residents to be custodians of the project to avoid wastage and embezzlement of funds.
“It is a high time that you own projects that the government brings to you as it is for your own benefit. I am urging you to elect new committee members of the project so that once the repairs are done, no money will be lost. The project is expected to generate Sh. 18 million annually which can be used for repair of broken pipes and support the running of the irrigation scheme,” the CC said.
The Nguruman Irrigation scheme, constructed at a cost of Sh. 318 million by the national government through the African Development Bank, was destroyed by flash floods with water off take points at the tributary of Entasopia and Oloibortortor rivers completely damaged.
The project that was started in 2008 was completed in 2016 and handed over to the County government in 2017 but a year later water intakes and canals were all destroyed by heavy floods affecting the livelihood of 60 per cent of the farmers that rely on the irrigation project.
The topography of Nguruman escarpment and deep gorges that source tributaries of the Ewuaso-Ng’iro River made flash flooding uncontrollable due to high velocity owing to the slope.
By Rop Janet/Albert Lemomo