The World Bank, in collaboration with the National Government, has piloted a 5-year groundwater project along five Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) counties to address the challenge of water scarcity.
The project, which aims to ensure that underground water reservoirs are well-recharged and protected, will be implemented by the Water Resource Authority and Water Sector Trust Fund.
The counties set to benefit include Marsabit, Turkana, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera.
The project funded by the World Bank is a regional program involving Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Eritrea and is set to cost Ksh19.3 billion.
According to Dr Samson Oiro, the Groundwater Expert at the Water Resources Authority (WRA), the multimillion-shilling project, dubbed the Horn of Africa Groundwater for Resilience Regional Program (HoAGW4RP), will help overcome the growingly acute water challenges in the region.
The water project, approved in July 2022, is scheduled to conclude in 2028.
It targets to benefit approximately 1.5 million people across five counties in the ASAL’s, which constitute 89pc of the country, and hold approximately 38pc of Kenya’s population.
Oira explained that the Horn of Africa drylands have the potential to harness groundwater, which is viable enough to offset the perennially devastating droughts.
This aligns with the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 and (SDG) 2, focusing on attaining access to clean water, sanitation and achieving net zero hunger.
In Marsabit, Laisamis sub-county, resident Khaltuma Hassan highlighted the array of challenges faced by women enduring arduous journeys in pursuit of water.
She further stated that the insufficiency significantly hampers education, with young girls grappling with menstrual hygiene concerns underscoring the far-reaching impact of water scarcity in the region.
Marsabit County Governor Mohamud Ali termed the program as a silver lining that may support long-term climate adaptation in the county and the region at large.
Caritas Marsabit Water Engineer Wako Sora urged water project implementers in arid and semi-arid areas to involve marginalized groups such as women, youths, and people living with disabilities in water management.
Currently, 29 counties are classified as ASALs, including Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Isiolo, Laikipia, Nakuru, Lamu, Tana River, Taita-Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Embu, Kitui, Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyeri, Machakos, Makueni, Kajiado, Narok, Kiambu, Migori, and Homa Bay.