Construction of dam sees Kitui community troubles alleviated

A boy collects water in a dry river bed in Kitui County.This will however be a thing of the past with the construction of an earth dam by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Picture:Courtesy
A boy collects water in a dry river bed in Kitui County.This will however be a thing of the past with the construction of an earth dam by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Picture:Courtesy

In most parts of Kitui County, looking for water can be a half day gruelling affair characterized by walking several kilometres on foot under the blistering sun.

So when the distance to search for the precious commodity is reduced by bringing water closer to the people, there is always untold joy.

This is what has happened for residents of Itivanzou sub-location in the arid Kyuso District of Kitui County after an earth dam constructed by United Nations

Development Programme (UNDP) was recently handed over to the community formally.

When the Principal Secretary Fred Sigor of the Department of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries unveiled the plaque to Commission the earth-dam, there were resounding claps of joy.

And when Sigor who was accompanied by UNDP deputy country director Fernando Abaga Edjang opened a tap and water gushed out with pressure, a thunderous ululation rent the air as the women present went wild with excitement.

The dam constructed along the Masiundu River with a capacity to hold 18,000 cubic metres of water was funded by UNDP at a cost of KSh1.8 million under the

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project, an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

During this rain season, the dam has accumulated run off water to half full and the residents reckon that when full, it will take them through most of the year.

Several metres from the dam, two taps have been erected to allow the locals draw water without risks of drowning or contaminating the water.

About 10 meters from the taps is a huge cemented trough where water will be pumped for livestock to drink from.

The dam has been constructed at a strategic point since it will help in recharging sand dams downstream thus raising the water table in the area.

Sigor said: “This dam will provide water for domestic and livestock use and support establishment of tree nurseries as well as promote food security.”

The community under the Muungano Farmers’ Field School (FFS) donated the land where the dam was constructed and also helped in clearing the bush while the staff from the ministry provided technical capacity.

Samuel Wambua, chairman of Muungano Farmers’ Field School said the dam will reduce the distance the locals trekked in search of water from 10 kilometres to just under two kilometres, while providing water to about 1,500 people in neighbouring villages of Katetu, Kiruguni, Tii, Katenga, Kasarani and Itivanzou.

Wambua also revealed that the group has planted over 300 seedlings around the dam to conserve the environment, adding that they are now focused on growing fruits such as mangoes, pawpaw and oranges.

“The water in the dam can last for one year and that means from one rainy season to the next. It’s a big relief to all of us,” Wambua reiterated.

The founded in April attended a training workshop in Baringo County sponsored by the ministry to learn about dry land farming.

Sigor said the overall goal of the Sustainable Land Management project is to foster economic development and bolster sustainable food security while restoring the ecological integrity of the Arid and Semi-Arid areas.

“Our objective is to provide land users and managers with financial incentives, enabling policy and capacity to improve economic development in dry lands. We want to reduce dependency in relief food,” noted Sigor during the event that also saw distribution of 300 Galla goats to members of Muungano Farmers’ Field School.

Each of the members received two goats — a male and female.

Sigor said the project was a five year pilot programme being undertaken in four districts of Mbeere North in Embu County, Kyuso in Kitui County, Narok North in Narok County and Daadab in Garissa County to improve food security.

“We want to see the success of the project in the four districts before rolling out the programme in other dry regions in the country,” he explained.

Sigor who was accompanied by Julius Kiptarus, Director at the Department of Livestock  and Dr Zeinabu Khalif of UNDP said ASALs have immense economic potential to sustain livelihoods if well utilised.

And with water closer to their homesteads,   Edjang said the dam is a major relief to women and children.

“The children can now attend school and women engage in other activities beneficial to their families because they are assured of constant supply of water,” he said.

Edjang noted that  UNDP was developing programmes to help Kenyans fight chronic poverty and enhance environmental protection through sustainable use of its natural resources.

He appealed to the community to adopt drought resistant crops, pasture re-seeding, land rehabilitation and livestock breed improvement.

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