As the world celebrates World Water Day today, soil erosion, siltation and planting of eucalyptus trees near rivers remain some of the pressing issues affecting water users in Northern Kenya.
At a workshop of Water Resource Users Associations (WRUA’s) of the Ewaso N’giro catchment area, held in March 2012, water users outlined these as some of the critical issues affecting them. The main aim of the workshop was to bring together all the officials of WRUA’s in the area to discuss water management and sharing because all the WRUA’s are inter-related geographically. The workshop was organised by the Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development (CETRAD), one of ILRI’s partners in the Arid and Semi arid (ASALs) districts.
Other issues that threaten water users are practicing agriculture and fish farming in the common water intake areas of Ewaso N’giro catchment area in northern Kenya. This is compounded by political interference such as people invading natural swamps for purposes of farming with the help of local administrators. As is often the case in such situations, those lower downstream experience the greatest effects of the activities taking place upstream.
The Ewaso N’giro catchment, the largest in Kenya, covers two thirds of the country and is subdivided into 5 sub-catchment areas namely Upper Ewaso, Middle Ewaso, North Ewaso Laggas, Engare Narok Meighis and Ewaso Daua. It consists of 61 WRUA’s.
During the workshop ILRI’s Shem Kifugo, a GIS analyst, distributed the report and maps of the project entitled: Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Ewaso Ng’iro Watershed. The project compiled and mapped existing data regarding key inter-related ASAL ecosystem services (water, biomass, livestock, wildlife, irrigated crops). The economic value of these services was then estimated based on their quantity and demand and finally the impact of climate change predictions on crop conditions and surface water hydrology was assessed.
This project was undertaken in realisation of the fact that the Ministry of Development of Nothern Kenya and other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL) faces a big challenge in managing the use of land and water in the ASALs. Both are the major limiting factors in in improving standards of living in the ASALs.
The report, Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Ewaso Ng’iro Watershed is authored by Ericksen, P.J.; Said,M.Y.; De Leeuw,J.; Silvestri, S.; Zaibet, L.; Kifugo,S.C.; Sijmons,K.; Kinoti,J.; Ng’ang’a, L.; F. Lansberg, F.; Stickler, M. Partners in the project were World Resources Institute, CETRAD and Danida. Read the report here