19 January 2018

Kenya: Mandera Leaders Criticise County's Plan to Manage Boreholes

A storm is brewing in Mandera as the county government seeks to take charge of all water sources, such as boreholes, to boost revenue collection.

The bold move announced by the county department of water states that all water sources, including boreholes, dams and earth pans, would be managed by the county government.


The move has generated protests in parts of this semi-arid county that was hard-hit by a water shortage.

Before the new announcement, water sources were run by water users' management committees that oversee daily supply in Mandera.

"We are aware of protests against the new development but we need to collect revenue and this is one of the major sources of revenue in Mandera," said Mr Mohamed Ali Omar, Director for Water.

He said the committees that have been managing the water sources have not been remitting money into the county's revenue basket yet all repairs are done by the county government.

"Water is a devolved function and as a county government we have seen the need of managing this natural resource properly to boost our local revenue," said Mr Omar.

He said Wargadud area has two high yielding boreholes but the money collected has not been accounted for.


Mr Omar said that water users' management committees in Mandera East have already surrendered water sources to the county government.

Mr Bishar Somo, Wargadud Water Users' Committee chairman, on Thursday led locals at Wargadud ward to protest against the county directive.

He claimed that the county government was taking over the water sources yet it did not drill the boreholes in the area.

"These boreholes were drilled by the national government and others by non-governmental organisations that allowed us to manage them, but the county government wants to take them by force," said Mr Somo.

He said taking over the water sources by force would likely cause a conflict, and the community would suffer.


Mr Alinoor Derrow, the Mandera County Assembly chairman for the Water, Energy and Environmental Committee, urged the county government to find a solution to the crisis.

"We understand the situation and despite the county government having done little in solving the water crisis, a better way should be found before the worst happens," he said.

According to Mr Derrow, the Wargadud boreholes serve a population of at least 100,000.

Mandera County Assembly Leader of Majority Abdi Hassan warned the county government against taking over the running of boreholes, saying it might lead to a crisis.

He said residents have been running the boreholes for many years and repairing those that break down.

"We understand that under devolution all water departments are under the county but for such a move to be taken, all stakeholders should be involved," said Mr Hassan.


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