January 19, 2024 (Public Communication and Media Relations)
Horn of Africa Groundwater for Resilience Initiative, a project seeking to strengthen systems for the development and management of groundwater was today officially unveiled in Turkana by Deputy Governor Dr. John Erus.
Turkana is one of the five transborder counties in Kenya that will benefit from the five-year World Bank-funded program alongside Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, and Garissa.
Specifically, the project seeks to address the challenge of water unavailability in the drought-affected Horn of Africa Borderlands through an elaborate approach to the Managed Aquifer System in which the underground sources are well protected and sustainably utilized by the community.
In his speech during the unveiling of the project, DG Erus said that Turkana would immensely benefit from the two components of the program that focus on water infrastructure improvement and capacity building of actors in the water sector governance.
“We have been properly briefed on the holistic approach of the project by both the Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF) and the Water Resources Authority (WRA), the implementing partners on the ground. As a county, we are convinced that the interventions will integrate conservation measures and reduce the vulnerability of residents to the adverse impacts of climate change.” DG Erus said.
The unveiling comes against a backdrop of a three-day workshop that brought together the Department of Water Services, WSTF, WRA, and representatives of Water Users Associations (WUAs) as the key stakeholders of the project. Similar workshops are underway in all four counties earmarked to benefit from the five-year project worth Ksh 19.3 billion.
County Executive for Water Services Faith Aletea described the project as a game changer and emphasised the need to focus on strategic boreholes serving high-density residential areas and pastoralists’ migratory routes.
CECM Aletea acknowledged the huge capacity gap in the governance of Water as a resource, especially on the side of end users.
“The emphasis on capacity building will cultivate a management ecosystem that promotes the much-needed resilience,” said Aletea.
CEO of WRA Janet Olewe said that the program was informed by extensive research that revealed the hugely untapped groundwater potential to mitigate against the perennial climate change shocks experienced in the area.
The CEO added that the project aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goal number 6, the provisions of the National Water Act of 2016, and the County’s development agenda all of which focus on improving access to water as a universal human right.
The project comes at a time when the county water department is spearheading the restructuring of the water governance system through the introduction of water companies specific to Urban and Rural needs.
Additionally, the project is also supported by the Inter-Governmental Agency on Development (IGAD) with parts of Ethiopia and Somalia set to benefit from the interventions.
Upon successful completion of the project, it is estimated that up to 1.5 Million residents of the five target counties will have access to water for domestic use, agricultural production, animal use, commerce, and development.
During the launch, it was announced that the project would leverage technology to establish a groundwater information system, a household water use database, and a mobile phone-based data input system for continuous updating of information.