Sicily Kariuki

Sicily Kariuki, the Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation.

| File | Nation Media Group

How can the struggling Galana-Kulalu project be salvaged?

What you need to know:

  • CS Sicily Kariuki says the government is making good progress towards realisation of food security in the country.
  • The ministry has been implementing various water projects across the country through its nine agencies.

The Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Project remains unfinished and is one of the biggest disappointments of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration. After promising so much and a lot of funds being pumped into it, the returns have not matched the investment. Alleged corruption has made the project stink even more. How can this project be salvaged to achieve the promises that were made to make Kenya food sufficient? Said Buya, Hola

The government is making good progress towards realisation of food security in the country by increasing the area under irrigation. The Galana-Kulalu project was identified as an intervention to contribute to this goal. At conception, it was envisaged to put under irrigation 400,000 acres after the construction of a two billion cubic metre dam on River Galana. The project was to be developed in two phases: pilot and full implementation.

In the pilot phase, a model farm of 10,000 acres was developed to showcase the planned investments. The overall completion rate for the pilot now stands at 92 per cent. Part of the model farm (5,100) acres is already under crop production, with 3,000 acres under maize and 2,100 acres under 13 other crops. Out of the 13 varieties of maize tested, Galana has a potential of yielding an average of 31 bags per acre for the selected varieties. Other crops being grown in the 2,100 acres include BT cotton, pawpaw, watermelon, pineapple and sugar cane, all recording very high yields.

The investment in Galana-Kulalu makes economic sense, with the Net Present Value (NPV) for the project being positive with an approximated Return on Investment (ROI) of six years. To salvage the project, the government has decided to, in due course, commercialise the developed 10,000 model farm through an open public-private partnership. The lessons learnt during its operation will be taken into account to inform the planned expansion of the area under irrigation.

The corruption remains allegations until investigative authorities pronounce themselves on the matter.

What challenges is the Nairobi Regeneration Programme facing as regards the implementation of Ministry of Water programmes? Despite the government allocating substantial sums of money that could have seen the roll out of the programme to its fruition, the same has not been reflected on the ground. Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Kisii

The Nairobi Regeneration programme is among the most transformative projects being implemented by the ministry. During the pilot programme funded to the tune of Sh1.9 billion, we expanded the Dandora estate waste water treatment plant, constructed over 35km of sewer lines and unblocked 10km of sewers across the city, constructed seven river and six road sewer crossings and put up ablution blocks in various informal settlements. This has helped check effluents being discharged into the Nairobi River thereby reducing pollution.

Additionally, the ministry has rehabilitated Kariobangi waste water treatment plant to increase its capacity, laid 96km of trunk sewers along most of the Nairobi River basin, laid 40km of secondary sewers and installed 1,000 sewer connections. This was done between 2012 and 2018 under the Nairobi River Basin Rehabilitation and Restoration Programme. These interventions helped to improve sewerage coverage in the city from 48 to 55 per cent. 

On the water component, the ministry laid over 120km of pipelines and installed over 3,000 connections. All these facilities are complete and are in use. The ministry has also drilled and equipped 193 boreholes in informal settlements.

The ministry, with support from the Africa Development Bank, is currently undertaking phase II at a cost of Sh8 billion. The objective is to lay 221km of secondary and lateral sewers to connect over 4,000 residents to the sewer system. Ablution blocks will also be constructed in informal settlements. With support from the French Development Agency, the ministry plans to implement additional interventions on sewerage to increase coverage from the 55 per cent to 65 per cent. 

Like any other infrastructural project being implemented in a settled area, this one has experienced delays in way leave acquisitions, encroachment of reserved land and vandalism.

Your ministry can be said to be the most vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate change phenomenon. How has your ministry mitigated against the resulting challenges? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The climate change portfolio is spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as guided by the Climate Change Act of 2016 and National Climate Change Action Plan 2018-2022. My ministry, as part of the interventions, has implemented diverse mitigation measures such construction of water storage structures anddykes, tree planting and establishment of climate change desks in all the water sector institutions.

The ministry’s National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority is responsible for water harvesting and storage to help mitigate the effects of recurring drought and floods. Further, the ministry has formulated the required policies – the National Water Policy and the Irrigation Policy – and the accompanying strategies, which have mainstreamed climate change issues in water resources management.

Madam CS, the President has already declared the ongoing drought in parts of the country a national disaster. As a ministry, what are you doing to alleviate the situation? Hassan Ali, Garissa

The ministry has been implementing various water projects across the country through its nine agencies, which work in collaboration with water service providers under county governments. The projects are for short and medium-term interventions and are helping alleviate the suffering. We are currently implementing interventions to reduce the impact of the drought by drilling boreholes and rehabilitating others, constructing water pans, extending water pipelines and trucking water.

In addition to the annual regular budget, an additional Sh350 million has been provided by the National Treasury to cater for the above interventions.

The large dams that have been constructed are meant to harvest and store water but also help in irrigation to boost food security. Would you say the dams that have so far been constructed have achieved these twin objectives? Silvanus Waswa, Bungoma

The ministry has an integrated approach in providing water for domestic and commercial use, and for irrigation. The National Water Policy and Regulations guide investments in water resources management, water harvesting and storage and supply services. The ministry’s National Irrigation Service Strategy 2021-2025 (NISS) outlines initiatives and interventions to expand the size of land under irrigation from the current 560,000 acres to 1.3 million in the year 2025. 

As regards large dams, several dams are at different stages of completion. For instance the Three Peace Dams in Turkana, Marsabit and West Pokot have been completed while Thiba, Karimenu II, Thwake, Yamo, Chemususu and Siyoi Muruny are nearing completion. Mwache and Soin-Koru dams are about to commence.

Upon completion, the dams are projected to improve the per capita water storage from the current 103m³ per person to 126m³ per person. Notably, the completion of Thiba dam in December will put under irrigation an additional 10,000 acres, which is expected to increase rice production from the current 80 metric tonnes to 160 metric tonnes.

The shift to irrigation farming has been slow, mostly because of limited access to water resources and a gap in public education on irrigation agriculture. How can your ministry help to broaden the area of farm land under irrigation for better output and food security? Spencer Owuor, Migori

The area under irrigation has been increasing progressively under public institutions, communities and individual farmers. In 2010, the acreage under irrigation was 354,750 acres while currently this stands at 560,000 acres with plans to raise this to 1.3 million acres by 2025.

In order to ensure sustainability of irrigation projects, the ministry is carrying out capacity building of irrigation water users associations. This financial year 1,000 farmers are to be trained in 20 completed schemes. In addition, seven training modules on various aspects of scheme management have been developed. 

The ministry, in partnership with the World Bank, is formulating a programme on farmer-led irrigation development (FLID), where individual farmers taking the lead role in small-scale irrigation development. This has the advantage of being low-cost, easy to implement and manage. A great opportunity exists in Kenya to rapidly scale up FLID by creating an enabling environment for the private sector to support it through mobilisation of the much needed resources to supplement the public sector efforts. 

It is crystal clear that there has been a steady rise in the area put under irrigation and there is adequate focus and investment towards achieving the set goal in support of the food security pillar of the Big Four Agenda.

Early this year I participated in the ministry’s virtual meeting on Transfer of National Public Assets Regulations. I noted we were only 16 participants in this very important meeting. Now, how will you gazette these regulations when the meeting did not meet the threshold of public participation? Daniel Murugu, Nakuru Town

It is noteworthy that the regulations you refer to are the fifth in a set of six, and I am happy to note that the initial four regulations went through rigorous public participation and are currently under consideration by Parliament. Consultations on the regulations you refer to have been going on across the country with water sector institutions, service providers and other stakeholders. Meetings have been held in Embu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Mombasa, Garissa, Kisumu and Kakamega. The platforms in place for stakeholder engagement are many, including print, digital and in-person.

Upon conclusion of public participation, engagements will be undertaken at the National Development Implementation Technical Committee and the National Development, Implementation, Communication, Cabinet, Committee (NDICCC) and finally to the full Cabinet.

The final consultations will be undertaken with and by the relevant Committee on Delegated Legislation in the National Assembly and the Senate before regulations are submitted for publication and tabling in Parliament.

At this point, the Ministry is still open to and welcomes any comment(s), suggestion(s) and memoranda on the subject matter.

The President has been very keen to actualise his Big Four Agenda before leaving office. Madam, how has your ministry participated in the realisation of these legacy projects? How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your efforts? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The ministry, being a super enabler, continues to implement water, sanitation and irrigation projects. We are is currently implementing over 685 projects across the country.

Under the Universal Health Coverage, the ministry is drilling and equipping boreholes in Level 3 and 4 hospitals across the country. Further, we are currently implementing 39 sanitation project in major towns in the country.

On manufacturing, the ministry has completed water projects in Naivasha Industrial Park and Dongo Kundu and is implementing others to provide water to the Leather Industrial Parks in Kinanie.

For affordable housing, we are providing water in Park Road, Starehe and Shauri Moyo areas and expanding infrastructure to support social housing in Kibera B, Mariguini and Mukuru. Similar intervention are being undertaken in other major towns.

On food security, several irrigation projects have been developed across the country including Mansa in Wajir, Elea in Turkana, Marich in West Pokot, Mweru Umoja in Meru and Tunyai Kakurunga in Tharaka-Nithi.

The ministry’s efforts in implementing its entire projects portfolio has progressed on well despite the challenges posed by Covid-19. 

Next Week: Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jackson Tuwei