A multibillion dam causes mixed reactions in Isiolo County.

By Mary Mwendwa.

Construction of a mega dam in Isiolo County has received mixed reactions with a section of local communities protesting they will lose some of their fragile ecosystems which supply them with water, while some leaders support the idea as it will bring development in the area. It is estimated Isiolo will have a population of 187,019 including the resort city; all these people will be competing for the precious commodity – water.

Ewaso Nyiro River, a fragile ecosystem, has drastically reduced its water flow over time, with recorded flow variations.2011 recorded a significant low flow as a result of one of the worst droughts in recent times, in the region.1998 recorded one of the highest flows due to the El Nino rains experienced during that time. In 1984 the river had no flow; it was completely dry, a time when the worst drought hit the entire region of the horn of Africa.

Ewaso Nyiro river passing though Archers post - Isiolo

Ewaso Nyiro river passing through Archers post – Isiolo

”We have never been consulted on this matter about the construction of the dam,we are a pastoralist community and our livestock depend on water and pasture largely. We don’t have many rivers here, only Ewaso Nyiro, if it dries we are finished.”A charged Halkano Diba from Bulabao village laments.Similar views are expressed by some local leaders who claim the dam may cause serious water problems if some factors are not taken into consideration with a section supporting the idea. Generally, Isiolo is a water scarce region and anything done to its ecosystems that may tamper with the little water supply is a huge setback to the struggling population.

Ewaso River Users Empowerment Platform (WRUEP) chairman, Rashid Guyo says;’’ This proposed dam has a lot of economic implications on the population here, first what we need to understand is that the only source of water in this region is Ewaso Nyiro river, we perceive this river will be affected largely by this mega dam project. Our people have not been involved in any consultative forums, they are the custodians of this resource but nobody bothers to talk to them”. Rashid notes how as an organization, they are fully concerned by the state of affairs concerning the construction of the dam, they need a full report on the environmental impact assessment that will incorporate the people’s views together with the expert input.

Residents claim that they have never been involved in any consultation forums about the 10 billion twin dam to be constructed at Crocodile Jaws and Ngerendare which are served by Ewaso Nyiro river. The dam is meant is supply water to the Isiolo Resort City which is part of the Government’s Vision 2030 blueprint which aims to transform Kenya into a middle-income country by 2030. Resort cities are flagship projects under the tourism sector.

According to the ministry of Environment, water and mineral resources, Under the economic pillar of Vision 2030, the government intends to develop a resort city that provides sustainable world-class living standards and working environment – a centre for finance, trade, business, services, sports, leisure and entertainment, this calls for supply of the adequate water to the city. Through a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment conducted by the ministry in partnership with National water conservation and Pipeline Corporation; The water demand for the Dam project has been taken to be the demand for Isiolo Town & its environs, the Isiolo resort city and areas along the pipeline route.
Due to the volume of water stored the possibility of supplying areas of Laikipia and Samburu were explored.Similarly, areas-Obtained data on projected populations for Resort City got from feasibility study carried out on Isiolo resort city by Japanese Port Consultants and populations and Growth rates for Existing Isiolo Tareas-Obtained from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Census Data.

Water Demand Assessment was analyzed based on design horizons; year 2016 as initial year, year 2026 as future year and year 2036 as ultimate year. The water supply assessment in Isiolo county, though its findings , Using the Computed Ultimate Domestic Demand of 81,676m3/ Day works out 945 l/s, proposed, from a Draw off tower located at the Dam site (El 1,530), Water is to be delivered to treatment plant at the dam site; Water taken through full treatment consisting of among other things; Coagulation; flocculation; filtration by rapid gravity filters and chlorination; Water for Isiolo conveyed through 93km of pipeline passing through Ol Donyiro, Kipsing and Isiolo West locations. Two other Pipelines designed to serve the areas of Samburu and laikipia some through pumping.

Water in the dam shall also be released into the Ewaso Main Channel during dry spells to guarantee flows beyond Archers Post – Ensure Supplies for communities downstream.
The Pipeline Corporation maintains the dam will turn the resort city and Isiolo town into a huge economic hub that will help them realize the vision 2030 goal.

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