The Kenyan government wants to develop large-scale infrastracture in the country’s flood-prone areas to boost water storage capacity and sustain irrigated farming.
“We consider floodwaters as a boon to irrigated farming, especially in the lowlands,” Robinson Gaita, director of Irrigation and Drainage in the Ministry of Water, told OOSKAnews.
“Bearing in mind that Kenya is water scarce, the ministry has put in place measures that ensure we make optimal use of stormwaters to promote this practice.”
Minister for Special Programs Esther Murugi, who was overseeing flood mitigation activities in the country’s coastal region, said earlier this month that the government is intensifying inter-agency efforts to harness excess water from floods for economic development.
The current flooding caused minimal damage thanks to work that was carried out to de-silt drainage systems and waterways in anticipation of heavy rains.
“Flood mitigation activities should be aimed at helping the country address water security and food production.We are exploring long-term flood control measures to support agriculture and other economic activities in the lowlands,” Murugi said.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is aligning its flood mitigation programs within irrigation, land reclamation and drainage policies.
John Nyaoro, director of the ministry’s Water Resources Department, said the government is seeking funds to construct large dams in areas prone to recurrent flooding.
“We are looking at the possibility of constructing huge dams along the Nzoia River in Western Kenya and the Tana Delta, as well as the semi-arid plains that experience ocasional flash floods. This water should be harvested for irrigation purposes, along with securing access to drinking water to people and livestock during the drought season,” Nyaoro said.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation’s climate change response strategy recognizes flooding as a threat to water resources.
Deforestation, loss of vegetation cover and sedimentation of rivers, lakes and wetlands has worsened flooding in many parts of the country, Nyaoro said.
“Our previous efforts to de-silt dams and rivers alongside catchments rehabilitation under the economic stimulus program have borne fruit, since the intensity of flooding has reduced,” he said.