World Water Day 2022 celebrations were recently held in Turkana County. This is an annual UN observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater and is celebrated on the 22nd March of every year. The day was first observed in 1993 and is used to advocate for the sustainable management and development of freshwater resources.
The theme for this year was “Groundwater, Making Invisible Visible”.
During the event, the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation joined the rest of the world to focus public attention on the critical water issues and also inform on the activities the Government is undertaking in the Water Sector.
National Water Harvesting & Storage Authority fully participated in the event which coincided with the launch of the Groundwater Mapping Report for Southern Turkana and Marsabit Counties in Lodwar. During the event, the Ministry in conjunction with USAID launched new areas to be mapped in Tana and Athi basin covering 17 counties.
Mr. Gichangi Wotuku, Deputy Director, Groundwater who led the team from the Ministry to the celebrations said that the report marked an onset for further research and evidence based interventions in driving the country towards being more water secure through abstraction of groundwater.
Dr Alain Gachet from Radar Technologies International (RTI) and Dr. Saud Amer from United State Geological Survey (USGS) clarified that the Lotikipi aquifer is not entirely saline as earlier reported. They stated that the exploratory boreholes drilled so far are too few for making any material scientific conclusion.
Dr. Amer said USAID and the Ministry of Water have mapped out areas with fresh water in the aquifers.
“Over 70 per cent of the rural population in Kenya depends on groundwater for their domestic water needs. There is also increasing use of groundwater for economic activities such as irrigation, fisheries, mining and industry,” he said.
Further, Dr. Gachet said that during drilling, all the aquifers encountered should be independently sampled and water chemical analysis be carried out as further scientific information needed before conducting further research. He said further exploration would be conducted.
Mr. Wotuku pointed out that the respective County governments had the responsibilities of initiating exploratory researches in collaboration with partners to resolve the water scarcity for the locals.
Citing Napuu Water Supply Project as a significant example for the ground water resource, Wotuku said that Turkana had done sufficiently well to involve National Agencies like the National Water Harvesting & Storage Authority in sourcing for water and supplying the same to the locals in the area.
H.E. Hon. Peter Emuria Lotethiro, Deputy Governor, Turkana County on his part directed that the Napuu Aquifer be marked and fenced immediately to avoid encroachment.
“The County government is now ready to go to Lotikipi aquifer, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi and Oxford University, to map out the areas with saline water and we can start drilling,” he said.
Calls were also made for increased investment in the water sector, use of research and coordinated involvement of stakeholders by several other stakeholders who attended the event.
CPA Patrick Ataro, the General Manager – Finance represented the Chief Executive Officer. Others in attendance were George Nyabicha, Head of business Development Unit; Wilfred Munyiri from the Corporate Communications and Patrick Ndumia, the Project Supervisor.