Posted on December 9, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |


Ngigi Kamau

UNEP-Kenya best Africa model in exploiting rain water

6th Dec 2010

Kenya has been identified as a best example in Africa maximizing use of rain water through irrigation  projects.

The other two countries captured in a new atlas compiled by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and released in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa last month are Senegal and Sudan.

The Atlas launched during Africa Water Week on Novemer 25th maps out new solutions and success stories from across the continent. It contains the first detailed mapping of how rainwater conservation is improving food security in drought-prone regions.

Images in the atlas reveal how irrigation projects in Kenya, Senegal and Sudan are helping to improve food security.

The Atlas, compiled by UNEP at the request of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) also shows how the challenges of water scarcity in Africa are compounded by high population growth, socioeconomic and climate change impacts and, in some cases, policy choices.

The Africa Water Atlas uses hundreds of ‘before and after’ shots, detailed new maps and satellite images from 53 countries to show the problems facing Africa’s water supplies, such as the drying of Lake Chad and the erosion of the Nile Delta, as well as new, successful methods of conserving water.

Some of the most arresting images in the Atlas include green clouds of eroded soil and agricultural run-off in Uganda, pollution from oil spills in Nigeria and a 3km segment of the Nile Delta that has been lost to erosion.

Prepared in cooperation with the African Union, European Union, US Department of State and United States Geological Survey, the 326-page atlas gathers information about the role of water in Africa’s economies and development, health, food security, transboundary cooperation, capacity building and environmental change in one comprehensive and accessible volume.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The dramatic changes sweeping Africa linked with both positive and negative management of this continent’s vital water resources is graphically brought home in this Atlas.

“Previous atlases in which UNEP has partnered have triggered change including sparking government efforts to restore the Mau forest complex in Kenya to Lake Faguibine in Mali” says the UNEP Executive Director

“I am sure that the before and after images presented in this Africa Water Atlas can also catalyze both greater awareness of the challenges and the choices and decisive, restorative and sustainable action on the ground,” added Mr. Steiner.

The atlas further shows that surface runoff from the Entebbe area south of Kampala, Uganda has turned to greenish clouds expanding out into the water as eroded soil, agricultural runoff and domestic waste runs into Lake Victoria, degrading water quality.

The report says, many areas of the Mau Forest Complex, the largest of Kenya’s water towers, had already been converted to agriculture in the 1970s.

Over 100 000 ha of forest, representing roughly one-quarter of the Mau Complex’s area, have been destroyed since 2000. By 2009, several additional large forest areas had been converted to agriculture.

Images from the Water Atlas show how the successful harvesting of rainwater in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Kenya, is already mitigating the risk for farmers and helping to reduce food insecurity in their communities.

A good example is Malindi District that has been worst affected by food insecurity due to climatic changes resulting in insufficient rain for the area’s crop farming.

Dependence on rain fed agriculture by the farmers has further reduced the area’s productivity hence increasing the number of people going hungry.

Through Hongera Bwagalua Irrigation project initiated with the help of Action Aid Kenya, farmers have constructed two reservoir water tanks of 200 and 100 cubic meters respectively.

Water is pumped from River Galana which is approximately 800 meters from the tank and is stored in the two tanks.

The water is then distributed to the 172 farms with a total acreage of 152 acres through gravity to water hydrants at strategic points in the communal farm. 

According to the authors, more than 40 percent of Africa’s population lives in arid, semi-arid and dry humid areas.

The amount of water available per person in Africa is far below the global average and is declining.

Groundwater is falling and rainfall is also declining in some regions.

Development of water resources is inadequate and prices to access water are generally distorted, with water provision highly inefficient.

After Australia, Africa is the world’s second-driest continent. With 15 percent of the global population, it has only 9 percent of global renewable water resources.

Water is unevenly distributed, with Central Africa holding 50.66 percent of the continent’s total internal water and Northern Africa only 2.99 per cent.

The report further says only 26 of the 53 countries are on track to attain the MDG water-provision target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to drinking water by 2015.

Of Africa’s 53 countries, only eight are expected to attain the target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015.



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