A three day capacity building workshop on integrated water resource management in Tsavo River catchment opened Monday in Loitokitok, Kajiado County. The workshop jointly mounted by JKUAT Water Resource and Research Centre (WARREC), and the Water Resource and Management Authority (WRMA) aims to equip participants mainly drawn from local water resource users associations with sustainable and best management practices for water and land resources in the region. The catchment has witnessed inappropriate and illegal water and land use, which has negatively impacted the ecosystem.
Tsavo River and streams flowing through the catchment have registered reduced flow as a result of diversion and pumping of water to support agricultural activities upstream, leaving little for those downstream. The lopsided water supply has consequently led to clashes between communities living within the catchment as well as human wildlife conflicts.
Addressing participants during the workshop, WARMA regional manager, Canute Mwakamba, noted that poor management of land and water resources in the catchment has resulted in food insecurity, lose of life and property besides dwindling tourism fortunes.
These challenges, Mwakamba underscored, would substantially be addressed by enactment of the Water Bill 2014, which is currently before the cabinet. He further thanked JKUAT for establishing WARREC whose contributions he opined, would be critical in water research and management in the country.
WARREC Director, Prof. Bancy Mati called on all stakeholders in the catchment area to work together in conserving the ecosystem for the benefit of all. Participatory management of the scarce and vulnerable resources she noted was necessary in the wake of escalating water requirements due to increase in human population and activities.
‘It is only through integrated management and prudent utilization of water resources that we can achieve economic efficiency, equity and environmental stability in Kenya,’ averred Mati who is a professor of water resource management.
The changing ecology around the catchment has forced wild animals like hippos and crocodiles out of their natural habitats, dealing a blow to tourism in the Tsavo National Park. There has also been massive lose of biodiversity with original forest cover in the area now standing at a paltry 2%.
Dr. Clifford Obiero of the Dept of Land Resource Planning and Management, JKUAT informed the workshop that uncontrolled human activities like deforestation, pollution and use of pesticides and encroachment had contributed to global warming, leading to catastrophic phenomena like flash floods, drought.
To reverse the misfortunes, Dr. Obiero proposes a paradigm shift involving conservation of watersheds through tree planting, better land use practices, and construction of earth dams and pans, among others.
The workshop brought together stakeholders from: group Ranches with the Tsavo Catchment, Kajiado County Government, Kenya Wildlife Service, Hotels and the tourism sector, water Service providers, and water service boards.