Despite security concerns in Northern Kenya posed by the Somalia based Al-Shabaab terror group, the national government through its agencies has continued to implement mega projects.
Among them are the Mandera Water and Sewerage projects funded by the African Development Bank (AFDB) together with the National Government to the tune of Sh2.4 billion.
According to the Northern Water Works Development Agency (NWWDA) CEO Andrew Rage, the projects are part of the Kenya Towns sustainable water supply and sanitation programme targeting various towns across the country.
A similar project is also ongoing in Marsabit town. The NWWDA operates in six counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo.
Rage said that the Water project in Mandera which consists of a new water treatment plant and 230 km pipeline has a capacity to yield 16,000 cubic meters daily while the sewerage consists of 50 km of sewer lines with a capacity of treating 6,000 cubic meters of sewerage water a day.
The CEO noted the projects that are expected to be completed in the next three months will see Mandera town have sufficient and steady supply of water.
“Mandera town has a population of about 200,000 people. Once the projects are completed in the next few months, these people will have enough safe water supply and a reliable sewerage system,” Rage said.
“The two mega projects will open up the town for growth, attract more investors and businesses and hopefully reduce the insecurity incidences in the area,” he added.
Mandera County Commissioner, Onesmus Kyatha, appealed to the public to utilize the water and safeguard the equipment once the project is completed.
Kyatha said that the water and sewage project will transform the town and steer development in the county.
“The project will transform the town by easing drought responses and general development including improving the livestock keeping and sanitation and disease control,” Kyatha said.
Kyatha revealed that the national government is keen on initiating more development projects in the county and reduce the marginalization gap.
“The national government is investing more in Mandera and this is about changing livelihoods of the local population. Everyone shall be supplied with water in Mandera town,” he said.
The County Commissioner said all public institutions have since been connected to both sewage and water lines in Mandera town.
MANDWASCO Deputy CEO, Najma Ibrahim, termed the project a ‘game changer in the water sector in Mandera municipality’.
Najma said that the project would increase water supply by over 70 per cent “from the current 30 per cent within the municipality.”
“This water project will help us deal with illegal water connections and increase our local revenue collection once every home is connected,” Najma said.
The project site engineer for water supply project Wellington Ndegwa, said the project is “a story of hope for change in the water sector in Mandera municipality.”
“This project started in 2018 and is nearing completion. The goal is to improve access and sustainability, quality and quantity of water in Mandera Municipality,” Ndegwa said.
The Sewage Project Engineer Benard Owiti, said that the project is a major intervention to prevent the pollution of Daua River that trans-borders Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
“Once the Sewage is collected in time, it is channeled to the treatment plant where it is treated and then left to flow back into the river to support the aquatic life,” Owiti said.
Long Ze Jun, the Director of SINOHYDRO Company, undertaking the sewerage project, said that they are looking forward to completing it within the allocated time.
The director said that the project has created at least 300 job opportunities for the local population. “We are faring on well despite the challenges including border disputes and insecurities. However, the government is trying her best to improve on the same,” he said.
Sultan Yusuf Ibrahim, a clan elder, lauded the project terming it “a saviour for Mandera municipality.” “It will be a great relief for Mandera residents to have this water at their convenience,” Yusuf said.
Osman Ali Rakiso, a resident of Mandera, said the water project will reduce the cost of living in the town.
“We are relying on trucks and donkey carts to supply us with water which is too expensive. This project shall provide affordable means of acquiring water because every household will be connected to water supply,” Rakiso said.
The treatment water plant will be fed from the River Daua, treated and then pumped to Burdas hills where the water will be distributed to Mandera Town by gravity.
Once completed, the project will be handed over to Mandera Water and Sewerage Company (MANDWASCO).
By Beatrice Mwangi and Erick Kyalo