The Makueni County government is demanding that action be taken against companies that dump industrial waste into the Athi River.
The county Executive for Water and Irrigation, Andrew Mulwa, said polluting industries must be compelled to adopt proper waste management, or else the county governments to which they pay taxes to must find an alternative way of dealing with the waste.
The river’s water has turned green, and the problem becomes worse during the dry season when its water level decreases, he said.
Residents who live along the Athi River are already suffering from diarrhea and skin disease, and there has been an increase in cancer cases reported at health facilities within Makueni County, Mulwa added.
He said he was looking at how those who have been affected by pollution could be compensated.
Mulwa is not alone in his concerns about the river. Last week, Francis Mwangangi, an MP representing Yatta constituency in Machakos County, also called on the government to find a lasting solution to pollution in the Athi.
Mwangangi urged national and county authorities to develop and implement policies to prevent further pollution of the river. He suggested they emulate some of the successful cleanup programs in other parts of the world.
Mulwa noted that the condition of the Athi is a major concern because the Makueni County government is launching a major irrigation project along the river to enhance food security.
Last year, the National irrigation Board installed a complete drip irrigation system on 324 hectares of land in Kibwezi -- the largest drip irrigation system installed so far for farmers in Kenya.
A multi-purpose dam is also planned on the river to supply water to the $14.5 billion USD Konza Techno City project by 2030.
Konza Techno City, which is being marketed by the Kenyan government through the Kenya ICT Board, will host business process outsourcing ventures, a science park, a convention center, shopping malls, hotels, international schools, and a health facility.
The city will be located in Makueni County, on over 2,000 hectares of land located 64 kilometers south of Nairobi.