The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has received a Sh1 billion grant to combat the effects of climate change by increasing water security for more than one million lower eastern region residents.
The funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a financial mechanism operating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be used to improve water security and reduce the impact of drought in the River Athi catchment area.
Nema Director-General Boru Mamo said the catchment area is water-insecure, with most of River Athi’s tributaries having significantly reduced or dried-up, leading to a negative water balance.
With less surface water, he said, reliance on groundwater has increased to meet growing water demand.
Prone to drought
The grant is expected to directly benefit 1,156,620 people in an area that is prone to drought, but which also paradoxically suffers from disasters linked to flooding in the River Athi basin.
“We have been crying for lack of money and now the Sh1.05 billion grant will go into supporting vulnerable communities in the lower eastern region by enhancing their resilience and adaptation to the vagaries of climate change,” Mr Mamo said.
“It will also contribute to the integrity of Athi River in ensuring that we manage the sources of pollution by enhancing clean-up of the river basin in order to get clean water to Thwake Dam.”
Work with Met Department
The Nema boss said the project will be implemented in collaboration with the Kenya Meteorological Department and the Water Resources Authority. It will see the agency invest in water supply infrastructure in four vulnerable counties in the region.
This will see the bulk of the funds deployed to enhance water security through construction and rehabilitation of water pans, springs, sand dams, boreholes and rainwater harvesting tanks to improve climate resilience.
“This will be a welcome relief to vulnerable water-stressed communities and especially to women and girls who endure long daily searches for water for domestic use,” he said.
Some of the money will be spent on monitoring water quality and enforcing quality rules through investments that enable real-time testing of water.
Strengthen weather monitoring
Mr Mamo added that some funds will be put into strengthening weather monitoring and forecasting through the development of a National Information Centre for integrated water resource management.
The centre will be equipped with integrated data analysis tools and a system of weather forecast information and a flood warning system complemented with data sharing protocols for institutions in the water sector and the community.
Nema was granted the funds in its capacity as a direct access-accredited entity of the GCF.