The frequent flash floods menace threatening lives and destroying millions of property in Enkare Narok Basin, may be a thing of the past if the efforts by a team of researchers drawn from five different institutions determine its causes and best management practices.
The joint project which was officially launched May 9, 2019 at Ewaso Ng’iro South River Basin Development Authority (ENSDA) in Narok, and which brings together researchers drawn from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI), Water Resources Authority, ENSDA and Cactus AMS is funded by National Research Fund Approved Grant at a tune of Ksh 9,147,000. The project is expected to run until June 30, 2021.
Expected research outputs of the project include: characterization of the catchment such as rainfall, soils and land cover, designing flood hazard and erosion risk maps of the basin to predict the extent and areas of the population at risk. It also aims at assessing the effectiveness of best management practices in agriculture for mitigation of flash floods, storm water and erosion management measures in Narok town.
The Principal Investigator, John Gathenya, a Professor of Water Engineering at JKUAT, said the project was targeting long term solutions in the area such as provision of cheap commercial data collecting devices for the community, enhancing more research activity in the area through the deployment of post-graduate researchers, and the installation of community based early warning systems on impending flash floods.
“With our guidance, we expect that the post graduate researchers from JKUAT and Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) will be our reference point from the data collected. The same data will also be availed to the community for comparison with historical data in order to understand how it directly affects their livelihood and farming methods. We are also going to commercialize some of our research tools at an affordable prize which the community will use to predict the impending danger,” said Prof. Gathenya
Mr. Kelene Ole Nchoe, a community elder, lauded the initiative saying flash floods not only threaten human, but also animal life which is the backbone of tourism in the area.
Mr. Nchoe urged the researchers to sensitize the locals on the basic water conservation techniques while also challenging other community members to contribute to the course to avoid dire drought seasons.
The project launch was concluded with field visits to the study areas and installation of data collection equipments at Senchura Secondary School, Kakiya and Ensampurrmpur storm water channels.
Present during the launch was JKUAT’s Director Research, Dr, Patrick Mbindyo, who was representing the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa, Co-Principal Investigator, Ms. Hannah Ngugi and Dr. Hosea Mwangi of JKUAT’s School of Biosystems and Environmental Engineering, Mr. Kimeu Museu of WRA, Eng. Moses Okello of ENSDA and Mr. Peter Muthigani of Cactus AMS