The Sh 45-million Lake Challa Integrated Water Resource Project in Taveta border town is a game changer.
Thousands of residents in Nakuruto and Challa areas are likely to benefit from the project being seen as a permanent solution for enhancing food security amongst small-scale farmers in the region.
The project, which is being undertaken by Coast Development Authority (CDA) is meant to provide clean water for domestic use for over 7,000 residents and 15,000 assorted livestock. The water will also be used for irrigation which will see hundreds of acres of land put under agricultural use.
The Coast Regional Commissioner Mr John Elungata termed the project as timely and said it was part of the government’s initiative to improve food security, provide employment and bolster agricultural production in the region.
He further cited other multi-million shillings’ projects in the county including the Voi Gemology Center, Bachuma Livestock Export Processing Zone and the One-Stop-Border-Post as indicators of economic resurgence for the region.
He further urged officials of CDA to engage farmers on how to form a cooperative that would ease the process of marketing their products.
“The project will boost the production and CDA should engage farmers to form cooperatives so that it will be easy to find a market for the agricultural produce,” he said.
The Challa Integrated Water Resource Project is being undertaken at a total cost of Sh 3.28 billion. However, financial constraints have forced CDA to implement the project in three phases. The water for the project is being extracted from Lake Challa, a cross-border fresh waterbody, which is shared between Kenya and Tanzania.
According to the project data, the phase one which was launched entailed supply of domestic water for residents of Nakuruto and Challa and enhanced irrigation infrastructure for Kasokoni Smallholder irrigation scheme to cover 144 acres.
It involved drilling of a borehole and installation of solar panels to cut the high cost of power. There was also the construction of 3.4 kilometers of pipelines, division boxes and completion of a 150-meters water canal.
This initial phase also involved installation of solar for the Challa-Tuhire Irrigation Scheme borehole that will serve over 400 acres of irrigated land. This is in addition to laying down 6.5km pipeline for Nakuruto Community Water Project to serve approximately 7,000 residents. There was also erecting of water kiosks and livestock drinking troughs.
The CDA Managing Director Dr Mohammed Keinan said the success for the launch of phase one was made possible through close collaboration with the local residents, government agencies and the county government.
He expressed optimism that more funding will be availed to complete the remaining two phases. He disclosed that the Red Cross had pledged Sh 100 million for piping and fixing of the water supply system for the project.
“We are keen on partnering with other agencies to empower farmers and residents to support livelihoods,” he said.
The CDA intends to extend the Nakuruto Community Domestic Water Supply line by 1.5 km to increase the number of beneficiaries. There are also plans to expand Kasokoni Irrigation Scheme Infrastructure to cover additional 100 acres in addition to training farmers on agricultural best practices.
Mr Jimmy Muchiri, the chair of farmers in Kasokoni and Challa said for ages farmers in the region were relying on rain-fed agriculture which had increasingly become unreliable owing to the mounting climate change challenges.
He added that optimism amongst farmers was high over the promise of increased yields from additional acreage of crops that would translate into better lives for the local residents.
“The project will help us sever our dependency on rain for crop production and we are expecting increased production. We are also hopeful that more people will get into farming and start to earn a living from this activity,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi