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From Foes to Friends – Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership Helps Bridge Divide Between Commercial Flower Growers and Smallholder Farmers

The Mount Kenya Growers Group is one of the key stakeholders in the establishment of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) – an initiative facilitated by 2030 WRG and supported by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF). We interviewed Topper Murray, Managing Director of Lolomarik Farm to talk about his experience navigating the relationship between commercial flower growers and smallholder farmers in the Mount Kenya region as the Chair of the Mount Kenya Growers Group.

The Mount Kenya region—which encompasses Meru, Nyeri, and Laikipia counties—is like no other region on earth. Despite straddling the equator, the region enjoys a temperate climate, and rivers fed by glaciers from Mount Kenya flow through the region. It also receives 12 hours of sunshine a day—all year round. Taken together, these factors make the region a perfect place to grow flowers. Unsurprisingly, the region has become one of the world’s top flower producers. In fact, it is now home to approximately 40 commercial flower farms that export flowers to markets all over the world. In total, flower farms in the region account for about 1,100 hectares of cultivated land. The flower industry in the Mount Kenya region contributes approximately US$60 million (KSh6 billion) to the local economy and is thus is a major engine of economic growth in the region.


Lolomarik Farm with Mount Kenya in the background


Despite favorable geographical conditions, running a flower farm in the region is not without problems. Because of widespread perception among smallholder farmers that commercial flower growers are selfish water users, tension between the two is common. Commercial flower growers often feel like they are walking on eggshells.

“It is difficult to be a commercial grower here. Smallholder farmers think that we are using up all the water from the river. They blame us when they don’t have enough water during the dry season. And when it floods, like it did last April, we are also blamed because some farmers believe that the greenhouses in our farms prevent rainwater from percolating into the ground,” says Topper Murray, Managing Director of Lolomarik Farm, a rose farm in Laikipia County, Kenya.

To correct such misperceptions and improve relations between commercial flower growers and smallholder farmers in the region, 20 commercial flower growers came together to form the Mount Kenya Growers Group, which Murray now chairs. As a first step, the group collected data about the amount of water they use. The result was quite surprising. Contrary to commonly-held belief, commercial flower growers there use only 10 percent of the water in Meru, Laikipia, and Nyeri counties.

The truth is, commercial flower growers in the region have been practicing integrated water resources management to minimize business costs and risks for some time now. Using rainwater collection infrastructures such as plastic-lined reservoirs, they have been supplying most of their farms’ water needs.

“Two years ago, there was a long drought. Many farms had to stop irrigating their farms and they had no crops in the ground. But Lolomarik was able to continue growing because we had, over the year, already stored 5,000 cubic meters of rainwater per hectare to supply our greenhouses,” Murray recounts. “This is why we invest 16 percent of our revenue each year in water storage systems.”


Topper Murray surveys a rainwater collection reservoir in Lolomarik Farm


Equipped with concrete data about their actual water use, members of the Mount Kenya Growers Group wanted to reach out to smallholder farmers in the region. In addition to correcting widespread misinformation, the group also wanted to help smallholder farmers to better manage their water resources. But because smallholder farmers are geographically dispersed, they are notoriously difficult to reach.

Fortunately for members of the Mount Kenya Growers Group, an opportunity presented itself when the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP)—an initiative facilitated by 2030 WRG and supported by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF)—approached Murray. MKEWP has already been working with local Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) to address water resources management issues in the region. MKEWP knew that a conversation about water resources management in the area must include all water users in the region, and that means bringing commercial flower growers to the table.

Murray understood the importance for the group to have a neutral partner trusted by community members—in particular smallholder farmers—and decided to join MKEWP. MKEWP helped organize trips for smallholder farmers in the community to visit the farms of commercial flower growers in the group. Through such visits, these smallholder farmers had the opportunity to learn about the types of water storage systems used by commercial flower growers to supply their water needs. Commercial growers in the group also shared knowledge about sustainable agricultural best practices with the smallholder farmers who were visiting.


Greenhouse in Lolomarik Farm


“We invited them into our greenhouses. For each farm we have, we have two simple plastic-lined reservoirs each containing 80,000 cm3 of water. When they saw our reservoirs, they were amazed at how much rainwater could be collected in just one reservoir,” remarks Murray.

During one such visit, a smallholder farmer who was impressed by the amount of water stored in one of the reservoirs in Murray’s farm asked about the cost of building a reservoir. Murray replied that building such a reservoir would cost approximately KSh30 million. The farmer looked thoughtfully at Murray and replied, “if a group of farmers like me get together and contribute some money, we could also build a storage facility like that!”

“At that moment, the farmer realized that, with a little coordination, owning a water storage system is not out of their reach,” Murray recalls. “The Mount Kenya region receives enough rainfall to supply the needs of the region; we just need to find a way to collect it. If we can help smallholder farmers build modern water storage systems, many of our community’s water challenges could be overcome.”


Greenhouses and rainwater collection reservoirs in Lolomarik Farm


In addition to sharing best practices about water resources management with smallholder farmers, Murray also wanted to help smallholder farmers to maximize the potential of their land. In one of his farms, Murray built a small-scale demonstration plot with a chicken farm and a cow to show farmers how much they could produce with an eighth of an acre of land, which is the size of a typical family farm commonly called shamba. “We wanted to show smallholder farmers that they can grow enough crops on their shamba to provide enough food for the family and still have leftover to sell in the market if they manage their farms using a holistic approach,” says Murray.


Topper Murray and visiting smallholder farmers on demonstration plot built by Lolomarik Farm


It is through interactions like this that many smallholder farmers in the region begin to see commercial flower growers not as inconsiderate competitors for water resources, but as responsible water users in their community who are willing to share their knowledge about agri-water best practices. For Murray, engagement with smallholder farmers is not about public relations for the flower industry. “It is about transparency. It is about knowing that you are doing the right thing,” remarks Murray.

Murray believes that more could be done to ensure everyone in the region has the amount of water they need, and he believes that MKEWP has another role to play. Just as MKEWP acts a bridge between commercial flower growers in the region, MKEWP could also act as a bridge between all water users in the region and the public sector. “If we want to address system water issues such as inadequate water storage facilities and illegal abstractions, we must work with the public sector. Only when we all work together will we be able to achieve holistic water resources management,” Murray states.

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About Mount Kenya Growers Group

The Mount Kenya Growers Group is a membership organization that represents 20 commercial flower farmers in the region. Together, these farms account for approximately 600 hectares of cultivated land in the Mount Kenya region. They directly employ 9,600 people, half of whom are women, and indirectly benefit about 96,000 people in the area.

About Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP)

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) is a partnership of public, private and civil society organizations committed to socially acceptable, economically favorable, and environmentally sustainable management of water resources in the Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment area. Spearheaded by the County Government of Laikipia and Mount Kenya Growers Group, and supported by the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group, the partnership provides a mechanism through which water access, use, management and conservation in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment area could be addressed.

About Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF)

The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) is a membership organization founded in 1992 to address a set of common natural resources management issues in Laikipia, Kenya. Since 1992, LWF has grown to include 6,000 members, many of which are community natural resources management groups such as Community Forest Associations, Water Resource User Associations, Wildlife Clubs, and Conservancies of group ranches.


Why we should safeguard water resources – Phyllis Wakiaga, CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers

This article was originally published in the May 29 edition of Kenya’s People Daily and can be accessed online here.

Nairobians are again facing the realities of water shortages and minimal rainfall. When we are forced to make do with less, we naturally turn our focus to how we can get more. More water, boreholes and dams.

But a focus on how to extract more water without equal attention to how we are using it risks driving us to a point where there is less and less until there is none. If we continue to manage our water resources like we are, our need for water will outstrip the available supply by approximately 30 per cent by 2030.

Kenya’s manufacturing sector is a key driver of socio-economic growth and has a major role to play in safeguarding the country’s water security. But manufacturing is water intensive, and to continue withdrawing more water without addressing the efficiency with which we use our most precious resource is unsustainable and poses a serious threat to our water security.

The amount of water used by Kenyan industry per dollar output is much higher than in most developed countries. For every $1,000 (Sh100,000) of product produced, industry uses around 18.7m³ of water. Compare that to 8.1m³ in Tanzania, and 4m³ in South Africa, two countries also struggling with the realities of not-enough-water, and it’s clear that we are not as efficient as we could be.

Increasing our water productivity is both an environmental and economic imperative. Already, businesses are experiencing the fallout of inadequate water quantity and quality. Many companies have been forced to relocate to areas with more water or secure alternative sources of supply for their respective water needs. This adds to their production costs and decreases their competitiveness.

Water scarcity significantly impacts business operations and safeguarding it will ensure that industries promptly supply goods to consumers whilst contributing to the economy.

Additionally, more stringent supply chain and procurement policies are fast becoming a reality as policymakers worldwide focus on how to improve global resource efficiency. Export-oriented industries will need to comply or risk being left behind in favour of compliant competitors.

More so, the policy environment in Kenya is evolving fast. Just last year, Kenya hosted the first ever Sustainable Blue Economy conference where President Uhuru Kenyatta declared that Kenya will lead in the adoption of policies and mechanisms to safeguard water resources. To achieve this, we need better information about water usage. No regulation exists to compel industries to report comprehensively on water use, management and discharge.

The Kenya Industrial Water Alliance — a partnership of public, private and civil society organisations committed to collectively address water-related risks to industrial development and growth, and supported by the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group — is working with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the Water Resource Authority to address this gap.

The alliance is developing a platform to consolidate industrial water-use information, which will provide a comprehensive, real-time overview of the amount of water being consumed for industrial purposes.

Policy makers and government agencies will have the information required for more effective and fair allocation and management of water, resulting in more consistent and equitable delivery.

The project will be piloted in the Athi catchment, where water-use is already exceeding environmentally sustainable limits. I encourage all industries and businesses with operations within the project’s scope to join this initiative.  

The writer is the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers |

Africa 2030 WRG Retreat Spotlights Partnership & Collaboration

2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania, together with associates from the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) – the 2030 WRG-supported multi-stakeholder platform in South Africa – and colleagues from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) convened in Nairobi at the end of May for a knowledge exchange and retreat aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of 2030 WRG in Africa.

The retreat explored ways to scale 2030 WRG interventions through greater alignment with IFC and World Bank strategies, and harmonization with the One World Bank and Maximizing Finance for Development agendas, which aim to increase collaboration across all World Bank agencies and systematically leverage all sources of finance, expertise, and solutions to support developing countries’ sustainable growth, respectively.

Speaking at the opening session of the event, Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC Regional Director for Eastern Africa said that the realities of climate change demanded more creative thinking around how to leverage financing, expertise, and innovation to solve persistent water challenges. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group is committed to expanding access to clean water and improved sanitation in developing countries, and; “We see tremendous opportunities for leveraging our expertise and track record in structuring PPPs across water service provision, agriculture, and promoting investment in water-efficient manufacturing,” she added.

2030 WRG was also challenged to create a more enabling environment for the private sector to participate in the water space by clarifying the process for companies to engage with the various authorities and ministries governing the sector. An estimate by one participant put the ratio of IFC’s advisory services to actual investment in the water space as five to one, a result that they attributed to the complexity and cost of maneuvering in such an administratively and legislatively opaque environment.

In a panel discussion focusing on delivering as ‘One World Bank Group’ participants highlighted 2030 WRG’s unparalleled convening power. Where WBG’s large and diverse portfolio in lending and knowledge exchange provides 2030 WRG with an opportunity to develop its operational expertise and technical knowledge, the WBG can benefit from 2030 WRG’s expertise in recognizing and mobilizing the private sector as a critical constituency.

On the close of the first day, Helene Rex, Program Leader for Sustainable Development at the World Bank stressed that solving the water challenge will require more effective policies and inclusive strategies, additional and innovative forms of domestic and international financing, community participation in decision-making, efficient long-term human and institutional capacity, and smarter technologies.

“The 2030 Water Resources Group is today a credible example of such a partnership and innovation” she said, “successfully building a network of multi-stakeholder platforms that bring together the private and public sectors as equal partners for dialogue and collective action.”

Days two and three of the retreat featured presentations, panels, and facilitated debates on a range of topics including: improving utility resilience and reducing non-revenue water; project management in a partnership environment; MSP sustainability; and incorporating circular economy approaches into wastewater treatment and re-use. The retreat was also an opportunity for colleagues who had recently joined 2030 WRG – the Africa teams grew from ten to 21 in the past year – to meet for the first time and exchange lessons and best practices.

2030 WRG Panel session for EA Agri session

Special focus on farmer-led irrigation opportunities in East Africa during 2030 WRG Africa Retreat

A session focused on farmer-led irrigation opportunities was held during the recent 2030 WRG Africa Knowledge Exchange and Retreat at the end of May 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. Key take-aways included need to integrate disruptive technologies to transform how agriculture is practiced, importance of market linkages beyond the existing formal export market structures which look at the local market as a viable business opportunity and need for creation of an enabling environment to promote more private sector engagement in farmer-led irrigation.

A presentation by the African Union (AU) provided a continental overview of the AU’s plans to develop Agriculture and Irrigation by adopting a farmer-led irrigation approach. The AU is doing so by designing a continental framework which will provide guidance to member states to develop policies in alignment with the framework to adapt to their local country needs. The speaker highlighted the importance of engaging with the private sector and empowering farmers and elaborated on how the framework aims to create an enabling policy environment for this to happen.

Access to finance and markets for farmers

A deep-dive discussion was held on financing mechanisms for supporting smallholder farmers to invest in water-efficient irrigation technologies. The Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) is currently working with 2030 WRG, Private Agricultural Sector Support (PASS) and Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) to incubate and develop a pipeline of 30 bankable projects linking these farmers to offtaker markets and equipment suppliers, leveraging financing from the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank.

Integrating disruptive tech

A representative from the World Bank Agriculture Global Practice shared examples of various ways in which disruptive technologies are transforming how agriculture is practiced. He argued that most innovative companies are using disruptive technologies to bundle agricultural services including advisory, extension services, input supply, financial services, payment services and market access and the need to use this opportunity to be at the frontier of agricultural transformation. It will be key to build partnerships and leverage these technologies in order to transform how risks are managed, which financial products are offered, and how we can be resilient in the face of climate change. Technology solutions can support agriculture in improving productivity, data analytics, financial inclusion and market linkages. Such innovations need to be better integrated throughout the agriculture sector.

Formalizing the informal

Another speaker from Twiga Foods, a Kenya-based offtaker, is now looking to expand their market to Tanzania. Twiga’s uses an innovative model of formalizing the informal by linking local market traders with supply. Twiga provides offtake market linkages for non-traditional value chains that have previously focused on providing staple foods to the local market through informal street markets. Twiga’s model of providing long term contracts to small holder farmers with guaranteed market pricing has created a steady income for farmers making them able to invest in climate smart farming practices such as irrigation to meet the market demands.

Read more

Read more about the Ramthal project: “Connecting Bagalkote farmers to water supply and market opportunities for growth”


Photo (from left to right) Twiga Foods – Grant Brooke, Executive Director, Africa Union – Dr Mure Agbonlahor, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank – Mzee Kilele, Agriculture GP – Parmesh Shah, Lead Rural Development Specialist


Mongolian parliament approves revised Water Pollution Fee Law

Ulaanbaatar, May 3, 2019 – The Mongolian Parliament approved a revised Water Pollution Fee Law based on a Polluter Pays model developed under 2030 WRG’s national multi-stakeholder platform. The 2030 WRG team began work with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, private and civil society stakeholders to address issues in the legal framework for water pollution fees that had eluded implementation for over five years, largely due to an overly complex model for estimating pollution charges in а context of limited technical and implementation capacity. The 2030 WRG presented best practices, highlighting water pollution fee models which incorporated economic incentives for pollution reduction; and risk-based monitoring. Following this, а preferred model for water pollution charges was identified and contextualized for the country under 2030 WRG’s multi-stakeholder platform, using Ulaanbaatar as а pilot case.

Extensive analysis of data on effluent discharge and revenue requirement for adequate wastewater treatment in Ulaanbaatar were undertaken to support а proposed structure of fees. This was discussed and agreed with private sector, along with measures to incentivize improvements in effluent quality. Further, the information disclosure requirements and basis for estimation of pollution fees payable were embedded in а revised license and discharge permit for water and wastewater, applicable to all consumers in the city. The charges and incentives are expected to lead to а reduction in pollution loads in effluents discharged by highly polluting activities. This will not only enhance the effectiveness of treatment processes at the city’s central wastewater treatment plant; but the revenues accruing from fees will also provide adequate funds for operational expenses of the treatment plant, leading to the avoidance of discharge of over 61.2 million cubic meters of inadequately treated effluent into the Tuul river.


Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

Israel Drip Irrigation Technology_Netafim

Israeli water technology innovators share best practices with high-level Indian stakeholders

MUMBAI, INDIA. April 4, 2019 — A recent knowledge sharing event on innovation in water technologies was held in Mumbai, India. The meeting was jointly organized by the Trade and Economic Mission of Israel in collaboration with the 2030 Water Resources Group.

 The objective of the roundtable was for Israeli water technology companies and prominent water organizations to share their knowledge on innovation in water technologies with members of the Maharashtra Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP). Eight Israeli companies were there to present their work and discuss opportunities for future collaboration. The MSP members were inspired by the various ways that the Israeli government partnered with the water sector and other industries in their country to address critical water scarcity issues and their ability to make more water available in a sustainable way.

India is suffering from a sustained water crisis that will only worsen if no action will be taken soon. Excessive demand for water, coupled with poor governance structures, erratic weather patterns, and climate impacts have led to severe water scarcity in several areas in the country. Although India’s water challenges are complex and unique, best practices and lessons learned from other parts of the world can offer replicable and scalable solutions to address some of the most critical problems.

Israel is the world’s leader in sustainable water management. The Israeli government recently joined the 2030 Water Resources Group in its efforts to reduce the gap between demand and supply for water. A small nation located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea, Israel’s demand for water is many times above its natural supply, due to its arid and semi-arid climate. Despite these challenging conditions, Israel has developed various water-saving technologies, including in water desalination, micro-irrigation, and water infrastructure and transport systems. The expertise and capacity built by leading water technology companies in Israel have been great examples for their Indian counterparts.

The exchange was attended by high-level MSP members, including representatives from the Water Resources Department and the Water Supply and Sanitation Department of the Government of Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, several public institutions in the water sector, representatives of the Indian water industry, UNICEF, CSOs, and relevant research organizations.


For further details please reach out to Pearlini Wathore (, J.V.R. Murty ( and Karishma Gupte (




Kenya 2030 WRG Governing Board Endorses New Catchment Stewardship and Industrial Water Management Proposals

This April, the Kenya 2030 Water Resources Group Governing Board welcomed the Kenya Bankers Association into its membership and unanimously endorsed two project proposals aimed at strengthening catchment management by professionalizing water resource users associations (WRUAs) and reducing the discharge of untreated effluent into the environment by incentivizing industrial water users to treat and re-use effluent water.

Strengthening the Governing Board Membership
The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), represented on the Governing Board by Chair, Joshua Oigara, is the financial sector’s leading advocacy group and the umbrella body of institutions licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). With a current membership of 47 financial institutions, KBA is an important private sector stakeholder with the ability to help maximize financing to the water sector.

The meeting also saw three other office bearers take over from their predecessors: H.E Samuel Tunai, Chair of Natural Resources & Trade Committee, Council of Governors; Patrick Kokonya, Chair of the Water Sector Trust Fund; and Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council.

“There is a tremendous value to having so many stakeholders around one table as the challenges we are facing can only be met through collective action” said Vimal Shah, Chair of Bidco Africa and co-chair of the Governing Board.

Water Resource User Association (WRUA) Agency Model
The Water Resource User Association (WRUA) Agency model is a mechanism to capacitate WRUAs to work together with the Water Resource Authority (WRA), serving as agents on the ground to ensure equitable and effective management of water resources at the basin level.

Water users within the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin have been experiencing increased water insecurity over the last 10-15 years due to small-holder and commercial irrigation activities occurring upstream. Although commercial growers have diversified their water use from rivers to rainwater storage and groundwater, the dry season river flows continue to trend downwards despite concerted efforts by Water Resources Authority (WRA), Water Resources User Associations (WRUAs) and commercial growers. Failure to manage the shared water resources puts existing businesses, livelihoods and the environment at risk with increasing conflicts with downstream water users.

Participants welcomed the project, noting that WRUAs are often better positioned to collect revenue than WRA, which is not on the ground in communities where abstractions occur; currently the authority is able to collect revenue for less than half of existing abstractions as a result of uncontrolled and un-permitted abstraction activities.

The proposal will see the model piloted with five WRUAs. Further discussions with WRA and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation will continue to be held to finalize the concept and move to piloting.

The Trade Effluent Management System (TEMS)
2030 WRG is working together with Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Ltd. and Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Ltd. to develop a Trade Effluent Management System to address challenges of effluent management, promote investment in waste water pre-treatment, reuse and environmental conservation and overall address water security challenges.

While clear standards for discharge into public sewers exist, license conditions compelling the industries to pre-treat their effluent before discharging into the sewer system have not been effectively enforced. The EMCA 1999 law espouses the use of the Polluter Pays Principle (3P) as guiding principle to enforce citizen’s entitlement to a clean environment, however, the current tariff mechanism for wastewater implemented by WSPs in Kenya does not adequately reflect the 3P.

3P supposes that the “cost” of un(der)-treated effluent should be borne by the polluter and not by society. It is a mechanism for incentivizing effluent treatment and water re-use by decreasing their relative cost compared to discharging effluent into the environment without adequately treating it first.

Currently, most WSPs charge a flat tariff, which does not take into account the actual quantity and quality of discharge. A commercial user discharging high levels of toxic chemicals is charged the same as one discharging grey water, despite their significantly disparate impacts on the environment, sewerage infrastructure, and public health. Recognizing this challenge, urban WSPs and the Water Services Regulatory Board have expressed the need to develop a risk-based effluent management system based on the 3P.

Participants welcomed the TEMS proposal as it addresses a critical need. The issue of trade effluent that affects the public sewerage system is a high priority, and the biggest sanitation challenge is Nairobi City. Based on the success of these two pilots, there is an opportunity to transition towards a national scale-up to other urban centres.

During the meeting, Joy Busulo, Senior Water Resource Management Specialist and Kenya Country Coordinator provided an update on the various 2030 WRG workstreams.

Guest speaker, Rosemary Rop, Senior Gender Coordinator and Water Management Consultant, WBG, gave a presentation on integrating gender perspectives in water. She challenged 2030 WRG to not only to account for gender in its programming, but also be creator of knowledge and evidence that can help influence future change.

Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Chari of the Governing Board closed the meeting by reminding participants that water is a critical enabler to the Big 4 Agenda. He encouraged attendees to “take forward the proposals and recommendations of the meeting with due seriousness and purpose, and to deliver well.”


Natasha Skreslet
Regional Communications Officer – Africa

Community problems can only be resolved by community-led solutions

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP)–an initiative facilitated by 2030 WRG and supported by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF)–has been supporting Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) in Kenya to manage their shared water resources. We interviewed Joy Makena, Manager of the Teleswani WRUA in Meru County, Kenya, about her experience leading her community from water conflict to collective action.

Joy Makena holding a guide to the 2016 Water Act

Joy Makena grew up in a farming family in Meru County, Kenya. On their family plot, her parents grew beans, maize, potatoes, and wheat. Having sufficient water for their crops was never a worry because her parents’ farm sat in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin, which received an abundance of water from the glaciers on Mount Kenya. “During those days, the river was full. Villagers who needed to cross the river did so on bridges,” recalls Joy. Today, villagers simply wade across the river.

The receding river presents a host of problems. Each dry season, the river is reduced to a mere stream. As the number of people and animals competing for scarce water resources grows, so do tensions within the community. When pastoralists downstream struggle to find water for their cattle, they move upstream in search of increasingly scarce grazing land and water. The upward-bound cattle pass through private property, destroying crops and livelihoods. Meanwhile, smallholder farmers located downstream, believing that smallholder farmers upstream have unfairly diverted water for their crops, destroy those farmers’ irrigation canals and crops in retaliation. The conflicts that ensue sometimes result in deadly violence.

Joy was deeply troubled by such conflicts in her community. “I wanted to understand my community’s problems, from my community’s perspective. I wanted to be part of the solution,” says Joy.

She believed that community problems can only be resolved by community-led solutions and decided to join her local water resource user association (WRUA).

In Kenya, WRUAs are voluntary associations of water users legally mandated to collectively manage common water resources. They function as a kind of localized extension to the national Water Resources Authority (WRA). They are responsible for supplying people within their catchment with sufficient quantity of good quality water, especially during dry spells. This is a gargantuan task, but that is not all. WRUAs are also charged with conserving and protecting the water catchment, preserving riverine forests and the riparian ecosystem, preventing pollution of the rivers, and establishing and enforcing water-use rules.

Despite this long list of responsibilities, WRUAs suffer from chronic underfunding. Joy’s WRUA, for example, is financed exclusively by money raised through community water projects; this amount is only a fraction of what is needed. As a result, Joy’s WRUA, like many other WRUAs, are often unable to effectively monitor and regulate water usage or enforce regulations.

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP)–an initiative facilitated by 2030 WRG and supported by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF)–has been working with WRUAs like Joy’s since 2016 to build their capacity and facilitate interactions between the community and government agencies.

Among many other things, MKEWP supports WRUA members to collectively inventory water-use and advocate for water management priorities within the five-year plans outlining county development goals that inform the national budgeting process. They also monitor water-use, identify illegal water abstraction in the river basin, and facilitate conflict resolution.

In March 2013, two months into her new position as her WRUA’s manager, Joy visited a group of farmers as part of a water-monitoring initiative. Thinking that Joy and her colleagues were there to take away their land, the group of farmers chased after Joy and her colleagues with their machetes. In the minds of many smallholder farmers, water and land go hand in hand. To them, any effort to curb their water use was equivalent to a threat on their land ownership. That day, Joy discovered the full extent of misinformation and distrust in the community that she would have to overcome as the manager of her WRUA.

Joy began visiting members in the community and listening to their stories. She encouraged them, even those who were hostile to her, to participate in WRUA meetings where they could openly and safely voice their concerns and learn about how they can better manage their shared water resources.

In 2017, the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin experienced an unusually long dry spell. The traditional rationing program—which called for the basin to be divided into two zones, with each zone having access to water on a two-day rotation basis—was not working. A group of people from the community stormed into Joy’s office, demanding for their share of the river’s water. “I was so scared, but I knew that I must reassure them that the WRUA will come up with a plan to ensure sufficient water supply for everyone,” Joy recalled.

Accordingly, the WRUA implemented a two-day non-abstraction period each week to help reinstate water flow. Shortly after, Joy received a call from one of the community members who had stormed into her office. Instead of threats, he simply said “Thank you, madam.”

The plan to institute a two-day non-abstraction period was a success. For the remaining period of that dry spell, everyone received the amount of water they needed and no one in the community had turned against each other. “I cannot even begin to describe the joy I felt. I have managed to do something for my community,” Joy recounts.

MKEWP council members after their meeting

Joy’s hard work and courage are continuing to pay off. People in the community are showing up at WRUA meetings and are becoming savvy about water resources management. Having a space to air their grievances and listen to their neighbors’ worries enabled groups in the community to build trust and empathy and work together to solve their common water challenges. Together, members of the WRUA have already come up with a number of new community projects to better manage their shared water resources. As far as Joy knows, there have been no new conflicts.

But Joy believes that there are more opportunities to make her community more secure and peaceful. She would like to see the WRUA come up with more projects, particularly projects that can help farmers store water for use during the dry seasons. She hopes that the WRUA will become self-sustaining, and wants to get more elderly people, women, and youth interested and involved in managing their community’s water.

But Joy has another aspiration for the WRUA—she wants to see more women in leadership positions.

“Women are key to better water management. They fetch water for their families, they farm, they cook, and they clean. They understand firsthand the importance of water for the wellbeing of their families, and they have tremendous power to create lasting change,” says Joy.

She is already seeing more interest from women in the community and is confident that they will rise to the challenges that stand in the way water security in their community.

To take Joy one step closer to her aspirations for her WRUA, MKEWP is in the process of piloting a Water Resource User Association (WRUA) Agency model as a mechanism to effectively finance and capacitate WRUAs to work together with WRA, serving as agents on the ground to ensure equitable and effective management of water resources at the basin level.

Story written by Meei Child (2030 WRG) with support from Natasha Skreslet (2030 WRG) and Wesley Kipng’enoh (Laikipia Wildlife Forum/Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership)

Charting Next Steps for Improving Smallholder Farmers’ Access to Irrigation Financing in Tanzania


Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania – The Tanzania 2030 Water Resources Group convened senior representatives from Tanzania’s agriculture, finance, and water sectors  to chart a path forward to make it easier for the country’s smallholder and emerging farmers to access financing for irrigation technologies. The move aims to improve irrigation efficiency while also expanding the amount of land under irrigation.

The consortium, which includes the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT), National Irrigation Commission (NIrC), Private Agricultural Support Trust (PASS), Rikolto, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA), and Tanzania 2030 WRG, is establishing a partnership that leverages their combined networks to link smallholder farmers with appropriate financing for irrigation investments.

The collaboration supports the mandate of NIrC to strengthen private sector engagement in irrigation through financing, equipment-supply, and co-investment.

Eliakim Chitutu, NIrC’s Managing Director said: “If Tanzania is to achieve its agriculture and food security targets, expanding irrigation is critical, but we must do so in a way that is both financially and environmentally sustainable.”

In its first phase, the consortium plans to unlock a portfolio of irrigation projects by enhancing existing financing options that remain out of reach for most smallholder farmers or enabling new financing options entirely. Once at scale, the initiative will see a substantial increase in smallholder farmer’s access to irrigation solutions.

Smallholder and emerging farmers account for over 80 percent of the nation’s agriculturalists and they struggle to access credit and loan mechanisms that would enable them to purchase modern, water-efficient irrigation systems. As a result, although Tanzania is endowed with nearly 30 million hectares of irrigable land, less than 500,000 hectares is currently under irrigation, equivalent to less than 2 percent of the potential.

Despite the limited amount of land under irrigation, the agriculture sector remains the country’s largest water user, accounting for over 80 percent of water consumed nationally. Gravity, open canal and flooding or basin irrigation methods commonly in use are very water-inefficient, with up to 45 percent water losses. Despite a relative abundance of water resources, critical parts of Tanzania, the Pangani River Basin in particular, are considered water-stressed. Freshwater availability per capita in the latter is 1,200 cubic meters, compared to 1,608 cubic meters for Tanzania as a whole. The water-efficiency of irrigation solutions is therefore critical to safeguard Tanzania’s future water security.

“Tanzania’s smallholder farmers produce the majority of agricultural output, but they also struggle to access affordable credits and related services,” said TAHA CEO Jacqueline Mkindi. “The challenge is not only about lack of financial products in the market but also weak support system to guide farmers on how to access available credit in a smart manner.”

A market study carried out in 2016 by TADB, Tanzania 2030 WRG, and FSDT found that although the country’s banks have developed products aimed at supporting such farmers, the high costs of capital and of identifying investment-ready farmers increases the risks to extending irrigation financing on a large scale.

“Qualified demand for irrigation is dispersed and uncharted. Such conditions, combined with the relative disconnect between target farmers and financial institutions, make identifying bankable irrigation projects challenging” said Japhet Justine, Managing Director for TADB, “That’s precisely the challenge that this partnership is intended to address.”

The consortium will identify, prioritize, incubate, and package irrigation financing opportunities that meet the requirements of funding sources, therefore reducing the coordination burden on financiers.

By facilitating smallholder and emerging farmers’ access to irrigation finance, the consortium will help to expand the amount of land under irrigation, helping to provide both a safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change while at the same time catalyzing economic growth, improving food security, and safeguarding Tanzania’s future water security.

Speaking ahead of the event, Onesmo Sigalla, Country Coordinator with Tanzania 2030 WRG said: “Water security and food security in Tanzania go hand in hand. The joint-efforts of this consortium are precisely the type of multi-stakeholder cooperation that can leverage sustainable water management as a vehicle for investment and growth, while also helping to safeguard the country’s resources for future generations.”


About Financial Sector Deepening Trust

The Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) was incorporated in Tanzania on 1 July 2004 with an overall aim to develop a deeper financial system that can provide greater access to finance to more Tanzanians. To unlock greater access, volume, and quality of financial services to the agriculture sector and to rural economies in Tanzania, FSDT is addressing constraints to deeper financial sector engagement in the agriculture sector and tackling the issues contributing to high transaction costs for financial services in agricultural and rural markets.

About National Irrigation Commission

The National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is mandated for coordination, promotional and regulatory functions in the development of the irrigation sector in the country. NIC in collaboration with various stakeholders, envisages to improve the traditional irrigation schemes and expand the area under irrigation. It is a semi-autonomous Government Department established under section 3 (1) of the National Irrigation Act No. 5 of 2013, under the Ministry responsible for irrigation.

About Private Agricultural Sector Support Trust

The Private Agricultural Sector Support Trust (PASS) is a facility established in the year 2000 in order to stimulate investment and growth in commercial agriculture and related sectors. It was registered in 2007 as nonprofit making and non-governmental organization under the Trustees Incorporation Act, 2002 and is taxed as charitable organization.

About Rikolto

Rikolto in East Africa (formerly VECO/Vredeseilanden) is part of the Rikolto Network, an international NGO with more than 40 years’ experience in partnering with farmer organizations and food chain stakeholders across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Rikolto runs programs in 15 countries worldwide through eight regional offices. We enable and support smallholders’ farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and to contribute to feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way.

About Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited

The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited (TADB) facilitates the development and transformation of the agriculture sector by providing short, medium- and long-term finance to agriculture projects in Tanzania that promote economic growth, food security and the reduction of income poverty. Our vision is to be a world-class model agriculture development bank that supports and promotes Tanzania’s agriculture transformation from subsistence to commercialized modern farming and agri-business for economic growth and poverty reduction. TADB was established under the Company Act, 2002 CAP 212 in September 2012.

About Tanzania Horticultural Association

The Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) is an apex private sector member-based organization that advocates for the growth and competitiveness of the horticultural industry in Tanzania. Since its inception in 2004, TAHA has been an effective voicing platform for producers, traders, exporters and processors of the horticultural products mainly; flowers, fruits, vegetables, horticultural seeds, and spices. The Association safeguards the interest of the private sector and ensures the industry issues are well mainstreamed at the national and international agenda.


The Guardian: Linking smallholder farmers to financiers is key to achieving more crop per drop

NEWS SOURCE: The Guardian (IPP Media)

BY: Mr. Japhet Justine, Managing Director, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB)


Water is arguably our most important and yet undervalued resource. Not only does it sustain life, but it is a critical enabler of the activities that drive our economy. Agriculture, a mainstay of Tanzanian livelihoods, constitutes 30 percent of the country’s GDP, employs nearly 70 percent of the population, and accounts for over 80 percent of water consumed.

Put another way, water and food security are inextricably linked.

Traditional methods like gravity, open canal or flooding irrigation are extremely inefficient resulting in up to 45 percent water losses. Modern technologies like drip irrigation can not only improve water efficiency but have the potential to also increase yields up to 50 percent, especially in combination with water storage approaches like rainwater harvesting.

But while Tanzania is endowed with nearly 30 million hectares of irrigable land, less than 500,00 hectares are currently under irrigation. As a result, food production is falling far short of what is possible.

Despite accounting for just 1.6 percent of irrigable land, irrigated crops account for nearly a quarter of the national food requirement at present. Irrigation helps reduce reliance on increasingly erratic rainfall, protects against droughts, and increases yields.

Expanding the amount of land under irrigation would provide both a safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change while at the same time supporting economic growth in line with the nation’s goal of achieving middle-income status by 2025.

But Tanzania’s smallholder and emerging farmers, who account for a majority of agriculturalists in the country, lack access to the types of irrigation technologies that could boost their productivity and help safeguard the country’s food security in the face of a growing population and an increasingly unpredictable climate.

The high costs of identifying investment-ready farmers is a key constraint for banks and loan providers who want to provide irrigation financing to smallholder and emerging farmers.

Despite the existence of savings and loan products, many farmers are ill-equipped to conduct comprehensive business planning, identify appropriate sources of finance, prepare compelling financing proposals, and negotiate loan terms.

Even when the above-mentioned barriers have been addressed, such investments require a high degree of confidence in the market. As such, strong cooperatives, access to markets, and offtake agreements with buyers and processors are also needed.

If we are to achieve The National Irrigation Master Plan’s target of 1 million hectares under irrigation by 2035, we must make it easier for the country’s smallholder farmers to access financing.

Reducing the risks regularly associated with financing small-scale commercial agriculture is critical to achieving our ambitious irrigation targets while also ensuring that precious water resources are used efficiently and sustainably.

This is why the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), in partnership with Tanzania 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) – a public-private-civil society partnership supported by the World Bank – alongside the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT), National Irrigation Commission (NIrC), Private Agricultural Support Trust (PASS), Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA), and Rikolto are working together to link smallholder and emerging farmers with financiers.

Once our consortium’s full ambition is realized, the initiative will see a substantial increase in smallholder farmer’s access to irrigation solutions. It is expected that those participating in the project will increase their productivity by 30 percent on average, while simultaneously decreasing water abstraction by up to 50 percent.

There has been tremendous progress over the last decade in terms of developing the types of blended-finance solutions that meet the needs of smallholder and emerging farmers. Now it’s time to connect the dots for the benefit of the economy, people, and planet.


About TADB

The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited (TADB) facilitates the development and transformation of the agriculture sector by providing short, medium and long term finance to agriculture projects in Tanzania that promote economic growth, food security and the reduction of income poverty. Our vision is to be a world-class model agriculture development bank that supports and promotes Tanzania’s agriculture transformation from subsistence to commercialized modern farming and agri-business for economic growth and poverty reduction. TADB was established under the Company Act, 2002 CAP 212 in September 2012.


This article was originally published in The Guardian and The Daily News in Tanzania.