The Government is set to spend Ksh 1.2 billion in the provision of water for irrigation in Nyeri County, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has announced.
Kariuki made the announcement while on an inspection tour of the Changachicha Water Irrigation Project in Chinga ward, Othaya sub-county.
According to the CS, the multibillion shillings program is geared towards boosting food production in the county while at the same time cushioning farmers from the adverse effects of climate change.
She said the plan is also part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
“Part of the government’s agenda is to improve the livelihoods of the people of this county by ensuring they can produce enough food both for domestic consumption and also for the market. For this reason, we have set aside Ksh 1.2 billion this financial year to fund 16 irrigation projects in Nyeri county alone,” she said.
She said nine of these projects are already complete, while six are ongoing including the Changachicha Water Project.
The Changachicha Water Project which is being undertaken at a cost of Ksh 151 million is currently 60 percent done and is expected to be handed over to the community at the end of this year.
Once complete, the project has been earmarked to benefit more than 1,000 farmers during the first phase with this figure expected to rise to 3,000 farmers in the coming years.
The project which derives its waters from the Aberdares has also seen the recruitment of about 400 youths in excavation and laying down of pipes.
The CS has similarly revealed that the project will boost the production of horticulture produce, fruits, and tea leaves which are the mainstay in the area.
“We expect this project to be a game-changer in horticulture and fruit husbandry once it is handed over to the farmers. Besides, the project will also improve the lives of about 10,000 people who in one way or another are part of the original members of Changachinga Water Project,” she disclosed.
However, Kariuki said those in charge of the project will have to undergo capacity-building training before the handing over is done to enable them to run it smoothly.
On his part, the chairman of the project Mr. Raphael Kimathi thanked the Government through the National Irrigation Authority for facilitating the funding of the multimillion project.
He said the project which was mooted in 2015 will go a long way in transforming the lives of the residents of the area economically besides ensuring the production of enough food throughout the year.
“We are grateful to the government for coming to our aid in funding this project which will now make it possible to grow crops throughout the year without having to depend on rains. Indeed, the benefits of this project are there for everyone to see, going by the number of youths who have already landed casual employment in laying down the pipes to be used for carrying out from the source to farms,’’ said Kimathi.
“Eventually we hope a total of 3,000 farmers earmarked to benefit from this project will become a key cog in not only producing enough food for their household but also producing surplus for sale,” added.
Also present during the event were Nyeri County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara and Tana Water Works Agency CEO Engineer Philip Gachuki.