Stakeholders in Baringo County have raised concerns after the Kimao dam experienced a drastic reduction in water levels.
The 300,000 cubic meters dam, situated in Koriema Sub-Location in Marigat Sub County, was constructed by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) in 1998 to purposely provide water for domestic and livestock use.
Upon completion of construction and distribution of its water, the dam was handed to the community for their subsistence use.
However, when officials from KVDA, led by Lake Baringo Region manager Paul Chepkener recently visited the site, the dam, whose water had been overflowing downstream towards Marigat town, was on the verge of drying up.
Chepkener cited illegal irrigation as a leading cause of the drying of the dam which is of great importance to over 1,000 households.
He noted that the dam was overstretched by the doubling population which is solely dependent on its water due to poor rainfall patterns experienced in the area.
“Initially during its establishment, Kimao dam was meant to serve around 5, 000 people but as of now, it is being used by more than 10, 000 residents.
These include nearby learning institutions and health facilities, including those in Marigat town, which is around 10 km away,” he said.
The regional manager states that residents embarked on agricultural irrigation systems that have receded the water levels.
Chepkener pointed out that while residents downstream were misusing the water, those upstream have encroached the catchment area to do extensive farming, therefore, affecting the two streams that feed the dam.
“As we talk now, there is no water going downstream and there are so many people affected, we have around eight schools, and two health facilities that are suffering because they cannot access water,” he said.
The KVDA’s regional manager also regretted that massive siltation due to cultivation along the gradient of the dam is threatening the habitat of the tilapia and mad fish which they stocked in the dam to serve as an alternative source of livelihood for the community.
Chepkener stated that his organization resorted to meeting with members of the community, county officials, and other stakeholders to try and find short and long-term solutions to the water crisis at the dam.
As a mitigation measure, he stated that KVDA has already distributed over 4, 000 environmentally friendly mango seedlings to Marigat residents for free, while plans are on course to distribute more seedlings to those from the upper side in order to address sustainability and availability of water from the dam.
Marigat Ward MCA, Nixon Lemlem, during the meeting, urged the locals to identify other sources of water for their irrigated farming and challenged all those residing near the dam to relocate in order to enhance the sustainable conservation of the dam.
Lemlem confirmed that his office will team up with other well-wishers in provisions of large water storage tanks within specific points of the ward where residents can be supplied with alternative sources of water for the meantime as a temporary measure.
Former Baringo deputy governor Eng Mathew Tuitoek in his remarks pointed an accusing finger at the management committee of the dam, whom he faulted for participating in the running down of operations at the once giant water facility.
“The management committee is to be blamed because most of the residents and institutions accessing this water have not installed meter reading units and the payment mode is not clearly defined,” he lamented.
Tuitoek, who requested KVDA and other partners to chip in and fence the riparian area to prevent residents from encroaching it, said the current predicament was a wake-up call to protect such important resources across the county.