Time to collect and store water for future use is now

The long awaited rains have finally come and farmers who were eagerly waiting for it are now very busy in their farms. Nothing seems to be deterring them from doing what they do best, despite the fact that the weather man recently expressed fears that the expected rains will be short lived.

This just tells you how hardworking Kenyans are but also shows how desperate they were waiting for the rains. It has been more than 8 months of severe drought that has negatively impacted on every living thing.

The drought has seen us lose a number of people to hunger as thousands of animals succumb to hunger and starvation. It has indeed been a condition whose effects have been felt by Kenyans, irrespective of their areas of residence.

In December last year, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWS) announced a four month water supply rationing in Nairobi. This followed a decrease of water level in Ndakaini dam to around 40% capacity. The dam is the main source of water for Nairobi residents, supplying over 84% of the total water used by over 6 million people living in the city. The rationing initially reduced water supply in the city by 13%.

The rationing affected and is still affecting the city residents, who have now been left at the mercy of water vendors who are selling this vital commodity at an exaggerated price. The price of a 20 liter jerrycan is now going for between 30-80 shillings depending on the estate. This is indeed very costly especially for families requiring a lot of water in a single day.

In early March, the NCWS managing director Philip Gichuki made an announcement that sent cold shivers down the spines of Nairobi residents, thrashing their hopes of receiving normal water supply from WCWS. Gichuki announced that the rationing that was initially supposed to run until April could now be extended to September, due to the continued decrease of water level in Ndakaini dam. It is alleged that the water level at the dam now stands at 30%. This has now led to a farther decrease in the supply of water in city to 20%.

Barely a week since the rain started, it has already caused havoc in some parts of the country. The usual run offs are now back and might get worse with time. We need to take the advantage and collect the run off for future use.

It will be very shameful for us to cry that we do not have water either to water our animals or irrigate our crops later in the year when run offs dwindle. If this water is tapped and stored in high capacity dams, the issue of water shortage in the country could be a thing of the past.

In 2015, almost every part of the country experienced massive run off. We watched as the water swept across the major towns like Narok and Nairobi, vandalizing properties worth billions of shillings. The idea of tapping the run off did not hit us. What followed is severe drought that affected almost every part of the country.

My hope is that we have learnt from our previous mistakes. Central government, county governments and private sectors should now come together and have a serious discussion on how the run off could be tapped and stored for the future.

David Mwaura, Communication Officer

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