2 June 2019

Kenya: Uasin Gishu, World Bank in Sh600 Million Dams Project

Uasin Gishu County has entered into a Sh600 million partnership with the World Bank that will see desilting of all dams in a bid to boost food production and water supply.

Governor Jackson Mandago said the devolved unit has already mapped more than 300 dams for the process in its plan aimed at boosting horticulture.

The county has purchased heavy machinery for the project dubbed Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Programme.

"We want to encourage small-scale irrigation for high-value crops and vegetable at the household level to boost food security and encourage our farmers to embrace crop diversification," said Mr Mandago.

The county chief, who led a delegation from the World Bank in a tour of the dams where desilting is ongoing, said there were plans to install solar pumps to assist in upstream water uptake.

World Bank senior agricultural economist Viney Vutukusu and Jonathan Denison, a water resource and irrigation specialist at the Food And Agriculture Organisation, said the UN agency would continue supporting such initiatives.

Mr Vutukusu lauded the county for showing commitment to transform the livelihoods of its people through dams.

"After visits to the dams, I have seen the commitment that the county has in efforts to better the lives of its people," he said.

"Water is a great resource whose use should be maximised. We will also encourage the county government to introduce fingerlings in the dams for residents to reap the benefits fully."

The devolved unit has been urging the public to go for crop diversification, including vegetables, and other fast maturing-high value crops, as opposed to reliance on maize.

"Many farmers who planted early incurred heavy losses following erratic rains this year, which led to total crop failure in some parts. Horticulture and irrigated agriculture is the way to go for our people," said Mr Mandago.

He said the water and agricultural machinery, which the county acquired recently, aim at diversifying agriculture as well as boosting water supply to meet the growing population of Eldoret town.

"We want to also target youth and women in this initiative to venture into irrigation activities with water from the dam to bring about economic transformation," he said at Usalama Dam in Ainabkoi sub-county.

The devolved unit last month launched a Sh10 million Persons With Disabilities Fund to help jump-start businesses.

"We want to change the mindset of the people into adopting full crop diversity. After these (desilting) works are completed, we will empower those closer to this dam to start growing vegetables and other high-value crops," said Mr Mandago.

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