Assessment of small-scale water harvesting and saving technologies and their application in Mitaboni Location, Machakos County
Munyao, Ruth Mwongeli
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Water scarcity remains a major development challenge in Kenya and particularly in the Arid and Semi-Arid lands (ASALs) like the Machakos County. Existence of few dams like Muooni dam, near the Kathiani market, has failed to deliver sustainable supply of water to the Mitaboni residents. Despite the emergence of small-scale water harvesting technologies, 54% of the households in Mitaboni still take more than one hour to carry water to their homes. This study sought to assess the existing small-scale water harvesting and saving technologies and their application in order to suggest ways of maximising their effectiveness. A total number of 200 households were randomly selected and heads of households were interviewed. Proportionate sampling was used to determine the sample size from each of the three sub locations. The study had 20 key informants selected based on their involvement in water management. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analysed using descriptive and inferential analysis. Pearson‟s Chi-Square was used to assess the relationships between selected variables in the study. Results showed that the commonly used small-scale water harvesting structures included the shallow wells, water weirs, water tanks and water pans due to their affordability and low requirement of specialised skills. Although unreliable rainfall remains a key concern, lack of adequate water harvesting structures denied farmers access to water during the few rainy days. Factors that hinder the investment in water harvesting structures included the lack of funds, unreliable rainfall and lack of appropriate skills. As such this study concluded that although existing technologies are useful, they fall short of satisfying household water requirements to the next rains - a period of about three months. Most households cope with persistent water shortages by accessing water from open dams, which are equally far away. Drudgery and health risks due to the poor quality of water remain risks households must contend with. Other hitherto missing technologies that could increase water availability in the households and the challenges that reduced farmers‟ propensity to maximise benefits from small-scale water harvesting technologies were identified. To increase access to water by households, this study recommends investments in more and closely distanced small-scale water harvesting technologies as well as capacity development in cost-effective water harvesting technologies. The sustainability of water security requires involvement of target communities in resource mobilisation for effective structural and capacity development investment.