Recent studies indicate that nearly a third of people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living in areas with extremely scarce water causing food security and nutrition levels to sharply deteriorate over the years.
To tackle this, the academia, private sector and the government, April 11, 2017, joined forces and initiated a rainwater harvesting and management campaign dubbed ‘the ‘Billion Dollar Business Alliance’ a vehicle created to increase per-capita storage of water from less than 100 cubic meters to a potential 7400 cubic meter by the year 2030.
Studies by ICRAF and UNEP show that the rainwater potential of Kenya, if harvested and managed well, is more than 350 billion cubic meters, enough to support a population of 233 million people.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Eugene Wamalwa lauded the organisations and institution for coming together saying “this cross sector initiative could not have come at a critical time when the country is facing the twin challenge of frequent droughts and floods”.
He urged the stakeholders involved to play their part and ensure that the campaign was a success. “If the potential of harvested rainwater is enough to sustain nearly 5 times the population of Kenya, it is a time to scale up rainwater harvesting and integrate it into broader policies, strategies to increase its potential impact,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Wamalwa also said research is crucial to the success of the campaign and commended JKUAT’s Water Research and Resource Center (WARREC) for taking part in the campaign.
“I am pleased to have witnessed the launch of the strategic plan for WARREC and hope the plan will aid in developing effective policy mechanisms that facilitate the promotion and scaling-up of rainwater harvesting based on its proven potential and impact,” asserted the CS.
The WARREC five year Strategic Plan, launched earlier in the day, identifies seven themes through which the Center will contribute to water sector growth. The themes include Infrastructure Development, Capacity Building and Outreach, Research and Innovation, Resource Mobilization and Support, Partnership and Linkages, Human resource development, and Extension and Technology Transfer.
In keeping with the University’s vision of being a ‘University of Global Excellence in Training, Research and Innovation for Development’ the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, in a speech read by Deputy Vice Chancellor, in charge of Academics Affairs, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, said JKUAT has many innovations and research initiatives beyond classroom teaching such as WARREC, which is mandated to conduct research, offer scientific advice, capacity building and knowledge management for the broad water sector issues.
“As Kenya advances into a knowledge-based economy, JKUAT, through centers such as WARREC, endeavors to become a key element of the national technology and innovation system for both human capital and incubation centre for new businesses.” said Prof. Imbuga
The Director of WARREC, Prof. Eng. Bancy Mati said the primary focus of the strategic plan is to transform WARREC into a center of excellence in water research, innovation and development.
The launch was hosted by ICRAF and graced by the University of Nairobi, National Drought Management Authority, World Food Programme (WFP), World Vision, Southern and East Africa Rainwater Network (SearNet) Kenya Rainwater Association, Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) Kenya Commercial Bank, G. North & Son, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Treasury.