Kenyan government undertakes irrigation project in Kenya-Tanzania border region

KENYA – The government of Kenya is undertaking a Ksh.67 million (US$620,000) Integrated Irrigation project at Lake Challa region in the Kenya-Tanzania border to bolster food security and entice the youth in Taita-Taveta County to venture into agri-business.

The project, a flagship for the government under Coast Development Authority, is targeting over 6,000 rural households through provision of clean water for domestic use, for livestock and irrigation to improve their household incomes by engaging in agri-business, reports Kenyan News Agency.

The Principal Secretary (PS), State Department for Regional and Northern Corridor Development in the Ministry of East African Community, Dr. Margaret Mwakima said, “Challa Irrigation project will give you what you need to exploit the massive farming potential that lies untapped. With focus, we can increase exponentially what we produce and empower farmers to earn a decent living.”

Lake Challa is a fresh-water marine resource that straddles the Kenya-Tanzania border and this strategic resource has for decades remained underutilized and only served a dozen local residents who engage in small-scale subsistence fishing activities.

Once complete, the integrated project is primed to transform the fortunes of farmers in this dry area that is characterised by famine, dry thickets and perennial dust.

The project is 75 percent done and is expected to be complete by September this year. Already, a borehole had been drilled and a 50,000 cubic meter tank installed in readiness to supply water.

To avoid burdening farmers with high power bills, the water-distribution systems will utilize eco-friendly solar-powered pumps.

Additionally, there are three water kiosks each with a 10,000-liter tank to serve residents in far-flung areas where the piping network is yet to be installed.

The project has also looped in the 145-acre Kasokoni Water Project, which serves hundreds of farmers engaged in commercial farming.

There have been some efforts in the past to hydrate the dry larger Challa region with National Irrigation (NIB) putting up Ksh.14 million (US$129,600) Madulu Water Pan which was rendered unusable after heavy siltation.

Dr. Mwakima said her department had identified other strategic resources in Taita-Taveta that would be rehabilitated to enable the region realize its full potential.

Amongst the projects identified include rehabilitation of Dembwa Dam in Mwatate at a cost of Ksh.8 million shillings; desilting of Mwasingia and Ngirinyi Dams in Wundanyi at a cost of Ksh.4 million (US$37,000) and Ksh.7 (US$64,800) million (US$64,800) respectively.

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