• The dam, which is being constructed downstream from Thwake and Athi rivers, is set to straddle 10 kilometres to create a lake reservoir of over 690 million cubic meters.
• However, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu had sounded the alarm over the quality of water set to be stored by the Sh82 billion Thwake dam.
Part of the Sh1.05 billion climate change cash secured last year will be used to clean up Thwake dam tributaries, says Nema.
“We will use part of the funding that we got from the Green Climate Fund to restore the upstream of Thwake dam,” Nema director general Mamo Mamo said on Monday.
The director said the fund is for adaptation to climate change by vulnerable communities in the Lower Eastern.
The funding approval was granted during the 30th meeting of the GCF board held virtually on October 6, last year.
The project is titled 'Enhancing Community Resilience and Water Security in the Upper Athi River Catchment Area'.
Kenya will go a long way in improving water security and reducing the impact of drought in ARCA.
The region is prone to drought and paradoxically also suffers from flooding of the Athi River basin.
The Athi catchment is severely affected by climate change and has a negative water balance.
As the Green Climate Fund has taken note, the ARCA is a water insecure region with most of its tributaries having significantly reduced or dried-up.
The fund secured will be deployed to increase water security and strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change targeting 1,156,620 direct beneficiaries.
Some funds will be deployed to strengthen weather monitoring and forecasting through the development of a National Information Centre for integrated water resource management.
Also, integrated data analysis tools and a system of weather forecast information and a flood warning system complemented with data sharing protocols for institutions in the water sector and the community.
A bulk of the funds will fund the construction and rehabilitation of water supply and storage infrastructure including water pans, springs, sand dams, boreholes and rainwater harvesting tanks to improve climate resilience.
This will be a welcome relief to vulnerable water-stressed communities and especially to women and girls who endure long periods in their daily schedules in search of water for domestic and other use.
But even as steps to enhance water coverage in lower eastern gain momentum, auditor general Nancy Gathungu had sounded the alarm over the quality of water set to be stored by the Sh82 billion Thwake dam.
Gathungu in her audit said the dam’s main supply will be the Athi River whose main tributary is the Nairobi River – which studies have revealed to be polluted with heavy metals.
Approximately two million people from lower eastern are gearing up to use the dam to end their water woes dating to the pre-independence era.
The auditor said several studies have concluded that Nairobi River water is unfit for human consumption and hence not even suitable for growing crops.
The dam, which is being constructed downstream from Thwake and Athi rivers, is set to straddle 10 kilometres to create a lake reservoir of over 690 million cubic meters.
It would be the main source of water for Kitui, Makueni and Machakos counties and the main supply to the upcoming Konza city.
Gathungu, in a review of the projects’ progress, said there was no evidence of efforts by the implementing agency to ensure the river will be free from pollutants.
She said there were no pointers that the ministry has put mechanisms to ensure that the river’s water is fit for human consumption before the dam is completed in November 2022.
“Consequently, in absence of any mitigation efforts to avert the pollution, the water and the food crops to be grown under irrigation in the proposed dam may not be fit for human consumption,” the auditor said.
In her latest report on the African Development Bank-funded project accounts, Gathungu said the programme’s objective may not be achieved in the circumstances.
An environmental and social impact assessment of the project warned that the water would be hard to treat owing to the pollutants.
The ESIA states that the Thwake dam location will be faced with residual faecal and organic matter from pit latrines, graveyards and waste holding sites from the displaced homesteads and social locations.
It states that the situation would particularly impact the health of the consumers and their animals that would rely on the water.
Mamo however said he is confident that the tributaries will be spruced up.
He said the Nairobi River clean up exercise is ongoing and they have environmental inspectors doing the monitoring.
"We have 20 inspectors working on the enforcement functions and we have engaged youths from upstream Michuki Park to undertake solid waste collection along the river. They are also protecting reserves by planting trees,” he said.
Nema was granted the climate change funds for its role as a direct access accredited entity of the Green Climate Fund.
This is the first project approval that Kenya has received from the GCF under the direct access modality.
Nema and the Kenya Commercial Bank are currently the only Kenyan organisations accredited by the GCF.
GCF is a unique global platform which responds to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate-resilient development.
GCF was established by 194 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.
It also helps vulnerable societies adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
Given the urgency and seriousness of this challenge, GCF is mandated to make an ambitious contribution to the united global response to climate change.
Under the GCF programme, the National Treasury is the national designated authority for accrediting entities that apply for funding through GCF in Kenya.
In November 2020, KCB gained accreditation from GCF as the first lender in Kenya to support climate mitigation and adaptation projects through green financing.
The bank is able to front projects between 50 million to 250 million USD.
This journey began with the bank’s nomination for accreditation in 2007 by the National Treasury.
This created a paradigm shift in lending for KCB, allowing it to tap into the green economy and increase its climate finance portfolio.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)