A Speech by H.E Governor Ndiritu Muriithi At The Inaugural Laikipia Water Conference
April 17, 2018
I welcome you all to this Inaugural Laikipia Water Conference. Receive a warm welcome from the great people of Laikipia.
As you will have noticed by now, we changed the venue from across the road to this new site because we received huge amount of rain and the terrain of the ground would not have allowed us to have the conference there. We cannot complain though because rain is source of water and it is precisely the reason we have this conference to deliberate on how best to store water in times of plenty like now for the times of scarcity like what we have just come from.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as we start this conference I am inspired by the wisdom of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who, in early 60’s while discussing water issues, noted the special place that water as a resource occupies. Mzee had to say, and I quote..
Water is one of most important basic resources. It is indispensable to not only to human life but also for agricultural and industrial development. Water must be treated differently from other natural resources, such as minerals, which can be preserved in their natural form and saved until required, so that if only a little is used in our generation, more will be available in the next. The flowing water of a river cannot be preserved in this way and any water unused today is lost to useful purpose forever. Each year by which development is delayed diminishes the potential value of life-giving water to mankind. Also uncontrolled flowing water is a major cause of human suffering. Regulated and put to use, the same water is the basis of life and civilsation.
Ladies and Gentlemen: These words of wisdom from Mzee Jomo Kenya were true then as they are today. Much more than that, under the constitution of Kenya 2010, we have a constitutional obligation under article 43 to provide clean and safe water to the citizens of Kenya. Water assumes a special place among the resources we have, as the supreme law of the land defines it as a basic right. There is therefore, urgency, to bring the issue of water provision as a critical enabler of the economic activity and good quality of life, to the fore.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Laikipia County is water insecure. Both for domestic use but also for production purposes. Out of the total of 103,114 households in Laikipia County (2009 Census), there are only 30% (30,562) with access to piped water and 67,320 (65%) households with access to improved sources of potable water.
In case of domestic water use, there are 507 small water clusters that provide services in market centres, institutions and settlement schemes. The distribution of water sources is uneven across the county with the northern parts and others, like Salama Ward, experiencing serious water shortages.
Only 14 per cent of households access water from within their dwelling, while another 10 per cent of the households - mainly those living in the urban centres - take an average of 1-4 minutes to reach the nearest water point. �
Similarly, 25.3 per cent of households take an average of 5-14 minutes and 44.7 per cent of the households take an average of 15-29 minutes to reach a water point. The remaining 6 per cent of the households take over an hour to reach the nearest water point.
Domestic water demand in the county is projected to be 50,000m3/day by the year 2030.
Given effects of climate change, food security cannot be achieved with reliance on erratic rainfall to grow food. Yet of our irrigation potential of 203,965 hectares, only 20% is realized. Therefore, there is a great need for investments in bulk water storage for agriculture as the way to reduce dependency on rain fed agriculture, increase yields and profitability.
In order to effectively support President Kenyatta’s Big Four, Laikipia County Government estimates the County requires to invest Kshs. 15 billion from 2018-2022 to provide water for domestic, business and irrigation to 80% of the population. Based on the prevailing budgetary allocation from the national equitable share, the County can only invest 1billion for the same period, thereby leaving a financing gap of KES 14 billion for the water sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, this situation obtains in many other counties across Kenya. Question then becomes how can we address this sad state of affairs. What strategies, investments, partnerships and pathways are available for bulk water supply for domestic, irrigation and manufacturing use?
Ladies and Gentlemen: Several questions are important for this conference, not only for Laikipia but also for other counties. How do we innovate around financing water infrastructure which we all acknowledge is expensive?
As water provision is a devolved function, how do counties get the bulk water to supply the citizens and how quickly can we as governments, both national and county be able to turn this round?
What role do our commercial water companies – in our case NAWASCO and NYAHUWASCO play in helping realise the goal of clean, affordable water for the citizen and for production?
How do we provide the right incentives and investment climate for private sector to be involved in water for agriculture and industrial production? What governance mechanisms do we need to put in place for the sector to thrive? I am certain that citizens have many, many such questions.
Ladies and Gentlemen: This conference therefore provides a unique platform to enable us to have a deep reflection and conversation about water. This conference starts from my governments’ recognition that water not stored now to be used later is water lost forever to Laikipia. This is, therefore, a top priority in our county. �
We hope that in this conference we will have stimulating discussions on the existing solutions, new ones that are being developed and promising pathways of addressing the challenges that face not only Laikipia but many counties in Kenya.
�Ladies and Gentlemen: On 5th April 2018, over 50 representatives of Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) Community Forest Associations CFAs, rural women groups and pastoralists groups met in Nanyuki in preparation for this conference. This meeting deliberated various issues that citizens hold dear in so far as water provision and governance is concerned. Those citizens are here today and they will speak about how they see the resolution of the challenges that we are all facing. I would like to thank various institutions and partners that helped facilitate the citizens to meet and discuss these issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The time for that infamous – Naomba serikali, naomba Governor – is long gone, we are in this together – all of us. A partnership, a collaborative effort that taps into resources, technology and human capital needed to deliver water for the BIG FOUR. All voices in this conference are therefore valid, and their contributions are valued.
So what is our strategy as a county? Well, to create water banks across the county and develop robust governance mechanisms for access and use of the resource. Water banking is not a new idea. Like a bank savings account, the water banks or large reservoirs if you like, store water for future use. The banked water resource will provide a critical tool to meet water demands during shortage and provide interim supplies while other resources are being developed.
God has blessed us with landscapes that lend themselves to water harvesting from the high up in the mountain through the rolling plains, and if we apply ourselves to storing this water then we shouldn’t always approach the third week of December and early January with such trepidation.
The county Government of Laikipia is pushing very hard to have the Kahururua/Nanyuki Bulk water Supply Project that will ensure adequate supply for the next 30 years started. Honourable Cabinet Secretary we stand ready to partner with National government on delivering this project. It is a big project that requires government and private sector involvement.
Water for domestic use is not the only challenge that water banks will tackle. As I have already stated, Laikipia has over 200,000 hectares of irrigable land. Hardly 20% of this is under cultivation. In order to achieve President Kenyatta’s BIG FOUR and especially on food security we must inevitably invest in water for agriculture. Although there has been strides towards this, more is needed and it is needed urgently.
A case in point is Wagwachi dam in Laikipia West Constituency. At 74 acres, the dam stores about 100,000 M3 and has nearly 150 farmers growing tomatoes on 500 acres. Unfortunately, over the last decade, it is heavily silted and occasionally leaves the farmers counting huge amount of losses.
While governance and equitable sharing of the resource is the more immediate need, an investment of 100M will mean we can double the storage capacity of Wagwachi. A back of the envelope calculation shows the economic return of this investment to be near 1.2billion in tomato sales a year, up from the current Kshs 500M. If we are to achieve food security then we must invest in water storage, improve governance and create incentives for private sector players to invest in irrigation dams.
Ladies and Gentlemen; governance of water resources is critical. It cannot be right anywhere in the world for people upstream to deny people downstream water resources. That must be the bottomline, ethically, socially and politically. The importance of WRUAs and Water Resource Authority (WRA) in the governance cannot be overemphasized, and, these institutions must up their game.
The situation we have just come from where communities downstream stare at hardship every season must come to a stop. The law provides remedy for times of shortage and the institutions must apply the law.
But governance is not just restricted to these two institutions, all of us, from borehole committees, dam committees, to management and boards of water service providers we must live by mantra of good governance. Water is not a resource you joke with, peoples lives and livelihoods depend on it, we must be guided by the best interests of the citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Over the last 7 months we have done the following:
Mapped out all water resources in Laikipia and we are in the process of creating a GIS database for the same.
We are in process of developing a comprehensive water master plan that will guide medium and long term development of water resources and infrastructure in Laikipia. This water conference will be an important input towards developing the master plan.
We have surveyed 15 dams, and out of those we have constructed 13 of them ranging from 7000M3 to 30,000M3
We have drilled 11 boreholes, repaired and equipped another 26 and we have developed a maintenance plan for another 100 boreholes that require urgent attention to serve the citizens.
We have developed a Laikipia County Water Services Bill to be discussed in the County Assembly of Laikipia. Among other things the bill provides incentives at household and at institutional level for rainwater harvesting and storage.
Finally, we have this water conference today where are exploring the whole question of water and sanitation sector financing, governance and what practical steps we need to take as a society and county to become water secure.
Ladies and Gentlemen: There are many people and institutions who have made this conference possible and I would be remiss if I do not mention and thank them. The County Government of Laikipia employees across all departments and our two Water Companies who are co-hosting this conference, thank you for the many hours planning this conference.
Our partners;- Water Sector Trust Fund, Water Resources Authority, Water Service Regulatory Board, Northern Water Services Board, Ewaso Ngi’ro North Development Authority, CETRAD, Conservation Solutions Afrika, GROOTS-Kenya, IMPACT-Kenya, KEWASNET, KWAHO, Mt. Kenya Water Partnership, The Nature Conservancy and USAID WASHFIN, thank you all for the support you have offered our team.
We are grateful to all of you and we look forward to even more fruitful partnership. I also thank all the panelists and moderators who will be key in delivering a smooth and successful conference
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, on the conference program we have a pipeline of projects that the county government of Laikipia and its water companies have planned and which we seek your partnership in delivering.
It is not by all means as comprehensive but it is start. We are happy to start partnerships in delivering those projects. Please join us in this journey by registering your interest with the partnerships desk in the Water department tent in the exhibition.
We all must succeed in this journey as water provision is a constitutional requirement, a legacy issue for all of us, and the enabler of the BIG FOUR. Let’s roll our sleeves and get working on the solutions for the next two days, after which I invite you to enjoy the hospitality of Laikipia.
Thanks you very much and God Bless.