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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kenya's Largest Dam to benefit Kitui, Tharaka Nithi and Tana River county

Construction of Kenya’s biggest dam is set to start soon along River Tana. The proposed Shs 150 billion High Grand Falls Dam will be the single largest undertaking by the government in the water sector and will supply water to the Lamu resort city and port.

The 165 square kilometre dam will also be used to generate between 500MW and 700MW of electricity and help to control flooding in the Tana delta that displaces thousands of people every year.

Its construction will be funded through a public private partnership with firms from the People’s Republic of China and the Export-Import Bank of China providing the finances.

“A feasibility study and a detailed design of the High Grand Falls Dam on Tana River is now complete and work will commence any time now,” the outgoing permanent secretary in the Ministry of Water, Mr David Stower, told Smart Company during a dam inspection tour in Koibatek District, Baringo County.

The proposed dam will hold over 5.6 billion cubic metres of water and will border three counties — Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, and Tana.

“Apart from generation of electricity, the massive water in the dam will be used to irrigate more than 200,000 acres of land. This will go a long way in boosting food production in the country,” Mr Stower said.

The High Grand Falls Dam is part of the Sh1.5 trillion Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset), which was officially launched in March last year at the Lamu Port by then President Mwai Kibaki at a ceremony attended by the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Mr Salva Kiir, and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who has since died.

“We want it as a critical success factor of the Lapsset project,” said the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority chief executive, Mr Silvester Kasuku.

Previously undertaken by the Ministry of Regional Development, the project will now shift to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources headed by Prof Judy Wakhungu.

“The benefit to the region is enormous,” said Mr Carey Orege, the acting principal secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. “First, it is going to form a small lake, introducing fishing to the communities around it, and tourism.”

According to Mr Orege, the National Treasury has forwarded the financing request to the Chinese Government, which has forwarded the proposal to the China Exim Bank.

All terms, apart from two technical issues, have been agreed. Negotiations on these are ongoing. The dam’s construction will begin at Marimanti in Tharaka Nithi, which will act as the coordination and site office. Tseukuru in Kitui County will form the coordination and site office for the resettlement programme.

The biggest beneficiaries in terms of transport will be the residents of Kibwezi, whose journey to Isiolo will be reduced by more than 100 kilometres.

Isiolo is planned to become a resort city, housing an oil refinery, railway station, and road connecting Kenya to Ethiopia and South Sudan. Overall, the bridge will save the economy at least Sh23.4 billion.

The saving comes as result of the dam eliminating the need to build a new bridge across the Tana River and also shortening the travel distance, currently by road, to the two counties. 

Construction is expected to take six years, with at least 4,500 households affected. Already, the government has completed the resettlement plan, which will see 3,000 households relocated.

“While construction of the dam is the financier’s responsibility, resettlement will be the government’s duty. As a ministry, we have done our financial request to the Treasury,” said Mr Orege.

Each of the households is expected to get at least a two-bedroom permanent house with land matching what they had before resettlement. The ministry says the aim is to leave them better off than they were before relocation.

Schools, shopping centres, health centres, and other infrastructure will also be constructed.

“The Lamu resort city will benefit a lot from this project,” he said. “The project will not only provide fresh water to the city and port, but it will also be a major food supply investment.”
To reduce water scarcity in Kenya, the government plans to construct 28 dams across the country.

The PS said the government has spent Sh13 billion in the first phase of its intended projects, which are spread across the country.

Other dams earmarked for construction include Sio Dam in West Pokot, Hare Dam in Koru, Nyando, Badasa Dam in Marsabit, which will have a holding capacity of 5 million cubic metres of water, and Mwache Dam in Kwale County.

“We’re now upbeat and hope to mobilise more funds to make sure that Kenya will never again have scarcity of this precious commodity,” added Mr Stower.

Top on the agenda is the Twake Dam in Makueni County, which will be the main source of water for the proposed Konza City on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Already, three of the dams — Chemususu in Koibatek District, Maruba in Machakos with a holding capacity of 2.5 million cubic metres of water, and Kiserian, which can hold 1.2 million cubic metres of water — are in place.

According to Article 43 (d) of the 2010 Constitution, provision of water is a basic right. The government is stepping up efforts to meet citizens’ demands for clean water.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Technical Information Service

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Technical Enquiry Service supplies, free of charge, technical and developmental information to our target group which includes farmers, grassroots development workers, community-based organizations, NGOs and other agencies using appropriate technologies to implement sustainable development.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Women digging Modified Zai pit holes in Mivukoni, Kyuso, Kenya
Maize is one of the most popular crops in agro ecological zone LM4 in Kyuso district. Kyuso district experiences an average annual rain fall ranging 300 to 600 millimeters in two seasons per year. Due to the erratic nature of the rains, there is a crop failure for 3 in every 5 consecutive seasons. This calls for water harvesting as an intervention to address the moisture shortage that causes the inherent crop failure.

Modified Zai pits
Zai pits as a water harvesting technology integrates a variety of factors to avail moisture to the growing crop to attain physi­ological maturity as follows:
Cultivated (cropped) area: The soil condition of the cropped area must be well prepared to reduce any soil related limita­tions for optimum crop establishment and growth
Catchment area: This must be sufficient to generate the extra moisture required in the form of runoff. A Catchment cropped area ratio of 3:1 has been found appropriate.
Catchment characteristics: As much as possible the catch­ment should be modified to minimize infiltration. This may be achieved through increasing the catchment gradient towards the cropped area and compaction.
Efficiency: In order to optimize the crop yield, both the normal rains and the runoff that collects at the cropped area must be used efficiently by the crop. All moisture losses must be minimized. The right crop variety with vigour must be planted early enough to gain from all the moisture experienced at the cropped area. It is advantageous to plant with Phosphorus containing fertilizers for early crop root establishment. Top dressing with Nitrogen and use of farm yard manure for provision of extra nutrients and moisture retention is necessary. Since weeds will compete for mois­ture and nutrients, weed control will be of necessity. Use of mulch will reduce evaporation losses. In addition since a health crop will use the soil resources efficiently, it will be necessary to protect the crop against pests and diseases.
Zai pits dimensions and lay out
For proper crop rooting zone Zai pits for Maize must have a minimum of 30 cm depth. They may be circular with varying diameters or varying square sizes depending on the anticipated number of plants per pit. A square Zai pit measuring 75 x 75 x 45 (cm) is ideal for 9 maize plants in Kyuso. They are conven­ient to dig and the sub soil is used to form a soil bund 15 cm high around the catchment area, while the top soil is returned and mixed with farm yard manure at a ratio of 4:1. Less manure ratio could be used depending on the top soil quality, manure availability and complementary use of artificial fertilizers.

An acre will accommodate 1778 nine plant pits each measuring 75 x 75 x 45 (cm) with a catchment area 3 times its size or 1.7 M2 and a plant population of 16000. At the minimum the yield from one pit will be 1.5 kg which translates to 30 bags of maize from one acre.
Going by the current market prices of maize, it is profitable to invest in water harvesting for maize production in the ASAL. During times of relative low prices, the margins will go lower. However the intervention will have other advantages like food security and employment creation. The area being a livestock zone the maize Stover will be used as livestock feed. The
intervention has a positive environmental impact in that it
effectively brings runoff under control.

Income statement for maize production through Zai pits
Yield per acre is 30 bags @ KES 2000 translating to a gross income of KES 60,000
Cost of 10 kg seed
Cost of 1778 Zai pits distributed into 6 seasons
3 x 50 kg fertilizers
593 debes of FYM (each debe serves 3 pits)
8 m/days of weeding
8 m/days of harvesting
2 m/days dusting and spraying
30 gunny bags
10 m/days threshing and
Total variable costs
Gross margin

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Energy-Saving Stoves Project

In most schools the provided food rations are prepared on the traditional three-stone open fire stove. Firewood in the urban setting is expensive and it is not unusual for urban schools to spend Kshs. 10,000-35,000 per month to cover firewood expenses. Parents are responsible for the provision of firewood at the school level. As many families survive on less than US$1 a day, the parental contribution required places a burden on the children.

In addition, studies show that excessive use of firewood and charcoal contributes to environmental degradation throughout the country. Between 1990 and 2005, Kenya lost 5%, or around 186,000 hectares, of its forest cover.

High capacity energy-saving stoves are available in Kenya. The stoves save 40-70 percent of firewood compared to the three-stone open fire stove and are equipped with a chimney that provides a smoke-free cooking environment. Unfortunately, the cost for these stoves is high ranging from Kshs. 110,000-240,000 for 200-600 liter stoves. It is estimated that one half of a liter is required per child. Although schools will save a considerable amount of money over time by investing in energy-saving stoves, the upfront cost is too high for most schools.

In an effort to address the challenges of firewood, WFP plans to expand its pilot Energy-Saving Stoves Project in schools under the school meals programme which has seen the installation of 50 energy-saving stoves over the last year. By installing and using energy-saving stoves, schools will save up to 70 percent of firewood. The savings will benefit the school, the families, and the environment alike. The stoves, which last for decades, require minimum maintenance, are locally produced in Kenya, and can easily be serviced. The stoves are made from stainless steel, bricks and fireproof cement.

Carbon Credit Project on Energy Saving Stoves

In conjunction with the purchase of the energy-saving stoves, WFP is in the process of applying for a carbon credit project through the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, as the purchase would decrease emission of CO2. If approved, the generated credits will be available one year after implementation and WFP will utilize the credits to purchase more energy-saving stoves.

Project Outcomes
-Reduce amount of firewood requirements by 40 to 70 percent and the associated costs in the targeted schools;
-Reduce number of suspended meal preparations due to lack of firewood;

-Reduce financial burden on parents in the management of School Meals Programme;
-Reduce deforestation in Kenya;
-Reduced indoor air pollution and improved respiratory and general health of cooks;
-Reduced cooking time;
-Reduced time spent gathering firewood; and,
-Generate local employment through stove production.

Friday, July 22, 2011


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