The State Department for Water and Sanitation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with County Government of Uasin Gishu in collaboration with the water agencies in the region including the North Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency (NRVWWDA), Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency, Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (ELDOWAS) and Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to come up with strategies to conserve and protect water infrastructure in order to reduce Non-Revenue Water.
Speaking after the MoU signing ceremony which was held at the governor’s office, the Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary Dr. Paul Rono confirmed the government’s commitment to prioritize water issues in the country.
He mentioned that already 100 dams have been pronounced to be constructed across the country to provide an adequate supply of water for both domestic, irrigation and industrial uses.
Dr. Rono who was in Eldoret on a tour to conduct an assessment on the water needs for people of Uasin Gishu, decried the issue of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) calling for strong cooperation between the national government, county government and water agencies in order to curb the water losses through illegal connections.
The exercise was aimed at coming up with ways of upgrading the current water projects in order to provide sustainable water supply to residents.
“As the ministry mandated to construct, manage and supervise the 100 dams, we have started the journey by doing an assessment across the country on the water needs and the locations of the dams, and also other medium dams close to 1000 and 3000 small dams like water pans and boreholes,” he said.
The PS led a team from the national government, county government and other stakeholders in the assessment to inspect existing water projects considered critical in the county like the Kipkaren dam, Kesses Dam, Two Rivers Dam in Kipkorgot, Sitoti in Kaptagat and others.
According to the statistics from the ELDOWAS, the municipality of Eldoret has a daily consumption rate of 65 million liters of water against daily supply of 43 million litres from the existing water projects. Hence the need for upgrade to meet the daily water needs for a population in Eldoret which is estimated at 500,000 people.
The PS confirmed that they intend in the course of this year to start the upgrading of the two-river dam which is believed could provide a lasting solution for water needs in the county. The dam currently has a capacity of 5 million litters and if upgraded will have a capacity of 16 million liters of water which can give a boost to the current supply.
“We shall also visit the two rivers dam which is also a priority dam for this particular county and we intend to start construction of the two rivers dam in the course of this year. We shall also visit other critical water projects as we know that in this county, we have about 384 colonial dams and other water catchments that we need to desilt so that we can provide sustainable water supply for people of Uasin Gishu,” noted Dr. Rono.
Speaking during a visit to the stalled Kipkaren Dam project, he called for seriousness and diligence in the implementation of water projects particularly by contractors who don’t complete projects on the agreed timelines. He warned that they will be terminated and blacklisted.
“For Kipkaren project which we know has been stalled for some time and as the ministry of water we have made a decision to terminate the contract of the Kipkaren contractor so that we can look for another to complete that work,” he said.
The PS also launched another critical programme called Lindamaji-Lipamaji which is meant to protect the water infrastructure across the country under a police unit called Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit CIPU.
“We have launched a serious operation in Uasin Gishu county to make sure we eradicate all illegal water connections; we also want to ensure that the water infrastructure that is pipes, water metres, dams and other associated accessories is protected,” added the PS.
He urged the residents to conserve the environment by planting trees, stop encroaching into the riparian lands and ensure they get water through legal means and at the same time mending immediately any pipes running and not given attention in terms of repair.
Dr. Rono called on residents to report immediately to the water police unit if they see anyone stealing water, vandalizing water equipment and or selling stolen equipment. He warned them against such unlawful acts that they will pay a fine of up to Sh 100,000 or 6 years in jail or both.
“Anybody found to have connected water illegally will face the full wrath of the law and that is why we have a water police unit here. If you are caught stealing water, or water gadgets like metres pipes and others, or taking them for sale, that one will not be business as usual, you will be fined Sh 100,000 or 6 years in prison or both,” said. Dr. Rono.
He further noted that the government had invested a lot in water and that Kenyans are paying for the loans which the government took to build the water infrastructure and thus the government cannot tolerate people stealing water, destroying infrastructure, because every drop of water matters.
In regard to the issues related to climate change, he insisted on the need to ensure that the water catchment areas especially the riparian lands are protected by planting the right trees and also making sure that anybody who has encroached into riparian land and water catchment areas are removed.
Noting that water is so critical in livelihoods of the people and the development agenda for the country, Dr. Rono called on the County Commissioner and the county government to team with the ministry of water in order to protect the water catchment areas from people who are encroaching and destroying the critical resources in the country.
By Ekuwam Sylvester