An ambitious private and public initiative programme to reverse the deteriorating conditions of rivers in two Counties has been set up.
The project called Eldoret Water Fund will see the residents of Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu Counties benefit access to clean and quality drinking water through the conservation of water sources.
According to Fred Kihara, the water fund’s director at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global environmental agency managing, these Water Funds function like endowments which are capitalized to a sufficient level to generate substantial earnings annually, which are then disbursed for conservation, ensuring a sustainable revenue stream.
“We are looking at a situation where residents from the two counties and other private sector partners will work with us and the national Government to save water for their people,” said Mr Kihara.
He said the water fund concept has been embraced in large cities in Brazil, Colombia, Chile and currently in Tana and Nairobi which according to him has already attracted donor funding.
Through the fund, he said, farmers will be involved in water conservation interventions, including planting trees, setting up water pans and drip irrigation pipes, embracing good farming methods and constructing terraces in order to reduce soil run-off into the river.
Elgeyo Marakwet County Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich welcomed the initiative adding that it could address matters of reversing forest and water degradation by involving local communities.
The Deputy Governor who hosted the team in his office said Elgeyo Marakwet was committed in forest and water conservation. “We welcome such partnerships that improve the living standards of our people. Our county has been at the forefront in protecting our water sources and that is why we pushed for the gazettement of Kaptagat as a water tower,” he said.
He added that there is need for an inter county resource management committee to ensure counties which supply water to others benefit. “We have had situations where parts of our county supply water to our neighbours yet the local residents cannot even access a drop of it,” added Mr Rotich.
WASREB chair Joshua Irungu added that the endowment fund will go a long way in ensuring that the money collected attracts a favourable interest rate that will ensure conservation activities in the respective water sheds.
The Director Programmes, Projects and Strategic Initiatives in the Ministry of Environment Ms. Agnes Yobterik said, despite water being a transboundary resource, residents from areas which are water sources have always been left with the sole issue of conserving the sources. “This fund will ensure that they get something for their services,” she added.
Elgeyo Marakwet County Water, Environment and Natural Resources CEC member Mr Abraham Barsosio said the department will move with speed to ensure that the appropriate interventions are put in place to ensure that the water towers are safeguarded.