Sustainable Water Resources Management for Food Security in Kenya: Case of Bwathonaro Catchment
Shisanya, Chris A.
Onywere, Simon M.
Obando, Joy A.
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Food security is important in Kenya today. Bwathonaro sub-catchment in Tana catchment is experiencing food insecurity and severe water related challenges due to high population pressure and over-reliance on irrigated agriculture for livelihood. Bwathonaro river supports irrigated agriculture, which is a major source of livelihood for people in the watershed. These challenges include: water pollution, inappropriate solid waste disposal, illegal water abstraction and/or over-abstraction of water, inefficient irrigation practices, encroachment on and drainage of wetlands as well as inappropriate use of agrochemicals in wetlands. The specific objectives of the study were to 1) document current status of water resource use; 2) propose a strategy for enhancing subsistence food crop farming within the existing khat (miraa ) farming system; 3) promote efficient irrigation systems that reduce water use conflict and enhance equitable distribution, and 4) work with community to improve water quality and quantity. The study adopted a four-pronged approach in the data collection procedures, namely: socio-economic surveys, participatory approaches, biophysical data and geospatial tools. Results showed that water use conflicts are persistent in the catchment. However, one Water Resource User Association (WRUA)-BWARUA, has shown consistent progress towards managing water resources for food security. The WRUA has undertaken a number of activities including ensuring that water abstractors observe permit conditions, undertaking surveillance of polluters, awareness creation on protection of wetlands, springs and river banks among other activities in the catchment. The impact of these activities has been positive and includes: reduction of conflict over water, reduction in pollution, more water flowing downstream and more water availability in the catchment for diverse uses including irrigation for agriculture, livestock and wildlife. Such practices could be used in other sub-catchments of Kenya as showcases to facilitate the sustainable use of scarce water resources for the benefit of all stakeholders.