RISK ARREST

Vegetable farmers blocking rivers for irrigation put on notice

Agency says domestic use should be given first priority during the dry season

In Summary

• Farmers diverting rivers for irrigation have been directed to stop or face arrest and prosecution.

• Warma eastern regional manager Bernard Omuya said the authority was concerned because people downstream were deprived of water.

Mary Maina in her vegetable farm
Mary Maina in her vegetable farm
Image: FILE

Farmers diverting rivers for irrigation have been directed to stop or face arrest and prosecution.

The Water Resources Management Authority has raised a red flag over vegetable farmers blocking rivers and sometimes diverting piped water to irrigate their farms.

 

Warma eastern regional manager Bernard Omuya said the authority was concerned because people downstream were deprived of water.

Vegetable farming is largely done along rivers with many farmers often opting for river water to irrigate their farms during the dry season.

Omuya said they were working with other agencies to flush out water cartels involved in blocking rivers and diverting piped water.

Speaking in his office in Embu on Thursday, Omuya said domestic water use should be given first priority during the dry season.

He said it was inhumane to block rivers and deprive those downstream of the vital commodity. 

"The Water Act 2016 is clear that everybody has a right to get water. We are giving notice to those blocking rivers for their selfish purposes that their days are numbered. The law will catch up with them," Omuya said.

He urged residents to report those blocking rivers to police.

 

Omuya said the authority has formed associations for the water users to enable them to resolve disputes that arise over the vital resource.

In February, residents of Makima in Mbeere South staged demonstrations to protest the blocking of River Thiba which supplies them with water.

They accused the National Water Irrigation Board for blocking the water at Mwea in Kirinyaga county and subjecting them to shortage.

In Mbeere North, residents living downstream River Thuci have been complaining of perennial blockage by farmers upstream.

They have often urged the government to ruthlessly deal with culprits who deny them access to water.

edited by peter obuya