Kenya has unveiled a guideline to help with the design and construction of safe, economically viable and environmentally friendly small dams.
The guideline that also covers pans and other water conservations structures in Kenya is expected to help in establishing small water conservation structures in the rural and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas of the country.
“The guideline will ensure that planning and design of small water storage structures is formalized and follows set procedures to help the country cope with adverse climate change,” Cabinet Secretary for Water Resources Eugene Wamalwa said in a Nairobi hotel.
Wamalwa observed that rapid runoff during the rainy season is to blame for the high wastage of water that in the end become destructive.
“Harvesting rainwater where and when it falls presents opportunities to address water scarcity through water storage in small dams, pans and other water conservation structures,” Wamalwa added.
In the global scene, Kenya is considered a water-scarce country that experiences extreme water shortage during periodic dry spells.
This is however blamed on rapid population growth and inefficient use of water resources that has increases the deficit between available water and demand.
The increasing population places a higher demand for water services and climate induced hydrological extremes makes the availability of the resource more uncertain.
“These two factors mean that improved water storage has a fundamental role to play in building a more water secure future for Kenya,” Engineer Robinson Gaita, the Director, Water Storage and Land Reclamation said.
He observed that in many parts of the country, especially ASAL regions in the northern Kenya, inadequate water is the largest constraint to sustainable livelihoods.
He said that the guidelines has been updated to take on board experience over the last 25 years, current best practice, new technologies, and new legislation in line with Kenya Constitution 2010.
The guideline is expected to contribute to sustainability of the rangelands as well as having additional sources of water where there is scarcity.
According to the Constitution of Kenya 2010, article 43, all Kenyans have a right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities as a fundamental human right.
The state therefore has an obligation to ensure that every Kenyan has access to clean and safe water, which makes it imperative that the state put in place measures and frameworks for making water accessible, through dams and other storage infrastructure.
The National Water Master Plan (NWMP) 2030 addresses the water resource management challenges in Kenya and sets out plans to support the realization of Vision 2030.
The NWMP anticipates the development of a total of 17,860 small dams and water pans adding an additional 893 Million Cubic Meters.
This represents a significant investment in water storage that calls for having the guideline in place In order to realize the benefits of this investment.
The document covers aspects of project planning, stakeholder engagement, legal and environmental compliance, and catchment conservation in addition to the technical material on design and construction of the water conservation structures
Kenya’s original guideline that was put in place in 1992 limited itself to dams of less than 10 meters height and less than100, 000 cubic meters in storage volume.
However this new guideline has been developed in line with the current Water Act 2002 classification for low and medium risk dams less than 15m height, less than 1,000,000 cubic meters of storage and catchment area of less than 1,000 square kilometers.