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Kenya: Crisis looms as water sources dry up

Crisis looms as water sources dry up
An acute shortage of water resources has hit Kenya pushing the country into a crisis as water sources dry up in what experts say is a looming ecological disaster. The shortage has been complicated by drying up of water sources including rivers, lakes , dams ,wells and springs and worsened by a an ongoing 10 month drought.
The result is that, households in cities and villages are going without water for days as pastoralists clash and kill each other over few remaining water points in arid parts of the country.

In cities including the capital Nairobi, women are queuing for hours in communal water points as village folk walk for hours in search of the precious commodity.

Already the government has closed one of its main power generation dams, Kamburu, in Eastern Kenya as water levels went beyond generation capacity leading to a loss of 14mws of power, blaming the move on poor rains in the dam’s catchment area of Mt Kenya forest.

Drying up of source of water

An important lake in the rift valley, Lake Nakuru is as well drying up posing a grave danger to thousands of species relying on it for water as well as thousands of flamingoes that the lake ecosystem is famous for.

It is no different in Lake Naivasha to the south with conflicts arising over the past week between flower farmers pastoralist have clashed after the former were accused of draining the water body via canals to irrigate their farms to the detriment of local Maasai herders.

The city of Nairobi has on the other hand sounded an alarm that it would be closing its main Ndakaini dam that feeds water to city residents in three months unless adequate rains are experienced in the catchment area of Aberdare forest.

It’s even gloomier in the Mara game reserve famous for its annual wildebeest’s migration as water levels dip in the all important Mara River again blamed on reduced rains in the Mau forest complex, the biggest water tower in the region.

Hundreds of age-old springs and boreholes have dried in Northern Kenya intensifying conflicts betweens nomads who have to travel for days before reaching an over crowded water point at times owned by rival communities resulting in conflicts.

The country is now bracing for higher power tariffs as the government engages independent power producers to install thermal power generators, to cater from shortfall from geothermal a more costly source of energy.

Tourism is as well likely to feel the pinch for a migration of flamingoes to Natron in Tanzania the main attraction to visitors in Lake Nakuru is already being reported.

Similarly not much action is expected in world famous game reserve as wildebeests cross the famous river if water goes continues decreasing and crocodiles move upstream.


Conflicts are rife in Northern Kenya and no less than 12 people have died as communities clash for watering rights in the vast arid region in the past one month. Some communities have moved further north to Ethiopia in search of water and NGO’s in the area have raised the red flag anticipating deadly clashes not uncommon there.

The ministry of water is expected to spend millions of shillings drilling no less than 250 wells and boreholes in the current financial year, 50 0f those in the capital Nairobi, according to permanent secretary David Stower where riots over the commodity were witnessed this week.

Environmental experts are baling the sorry state of things on human activities that have destroyed important water towers and introduction of fast growing commercial tree species from outside Kenya for the drying up of sources and aquifers.

Indeed most of Kenya is experiencing drought currently including parts of the country where drought has never occurred in the past. On the other hand aquifers feedings critical springs and wells have given up, a first in many parts of Kenya.

Environmentalists many of them who have sounded an alarm over the manner in which Kenyans have handled their natural resources are now being vindicated, after their warnings against destruction of forest cover went unheeded.

“The signs have been there for all to, we have cautioned that water is an exhaustible resource that can be depleted now the results are there for all to see” said Wangari Mathaai, Kenya’s forest nature activist and Nobel laureate early this week.

Maathai blamed human greed and lack of foresight on part of country’s leadership for the unfolding ecological disaster, warning that the worst to happen.

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