NEED SH440M FOR SAFETY

Kenya dams disasters waiting to happen, says task force

Kenya has a total 4,100 dams and water pans, the team said in a report they released yesterday.

In Summary

• The report comes more than a year after the Solai/ Patel Dam tragedy on May 9 last year.

• Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said this was the third time a dam had failed in Kenya.

Water CS Simon Chelugui
PETITION: Water CS Simon Chelugui
Image: FILE

Kenya will need Sh440 million to improve the safety of its hundreds of dams over the next three years.

A task force constituted last year said many of the dams are disasters waiting to happen.

“There’s inadequate site investigation and insufficient to zero maintenance of dams,” the task force led by Samuel Halima said. 

 

Kenya has a total 4,100 dams and water pans, the team said in a report they released yesterday.

The count includes all the major dams, including the seven folks, Sasumua and Ndakaini dams that serve Nairobi.

They said there’s inadequate monitoring of the dams, and the country may not be in a position to forestall a disaster.

“There’s no clear format to implement safety, inadequate emergency action plan and the public is not aware of Water Resources Management rules,” the team said.

The team recommended the formulation of a new disaster management framework and proper vetting and review of dam designs.

The taskforce was formulated to undertake inquiry, investigation and assessment of operations, regulating regimes, safety and general status of dams in the country and propose recommendations to enhance sustainable management of dams in the country.

The report comes more than a year after the Solai/ Patel Dam tragedy on May 9 last year.

 

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said this was the third time a dam had failed in Kenya.

At least 47 people were killed and others displaced when the dam breached.

“The spillway for Sasumua dam failed in 2003 but without casualties. In 1980s, the country recorded the first incident when a dam failed in a coffee plantation in Kiambu‚” Chelugui said.

“The signs that the Sasumua spillway would fail were noticed in 1963. Immediate measures could have been taken way back in 1963 to prevent the failure. Because of lack of regular surveillance and monitoring and inspection; the dam spillway failed 40 years later,” he said.

The CS said Kenya still needs 57 more dams to meet its water needs.

The construction of some dams like Siyoi Muruny, Thwake, Mwache, Yamo, Wamba, Itare, Karemenu II, Bosto and Ruiru II are ongoing, Chelugui said.

“The construction of large dams in the country is hampered by the high cost, lack of budgetary provisions, the mandate of dams being scattered in various ministries, departments and agencies,” he said.

The CS said the ministry is putting in place measures which will include environmental conservation to safeguard siltation and pollution of water sources.

(edited by O. Owino)