2030 WRG at Africa Green Revolution Forum 2019
2030 Water Resources Group participated in a special session focused on digitalization for farmer-led mechanization and irrigation for smallholder systems at this year’s Africa Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana, where the theme was ‘Grow Digital: leveraging digital transformation to drive sustainable food systems in Africa’.
Speaking on a panel about the digitization of farmer-led-irrigation, 2030 WRG Africa Regional Senior Water Resource Management Specialist, Joy Busolo, shared examples of how digitization can help ensure adequate availability and sustainable use of water resources for smallholder farmers, drawing on examples from 2030 WRG programs across Africa and Asia.
A brief overview of the projects presented during the event are included below.
Kenya – Farmer Led Irrigation Initiative
Partners: World Bank, International Finance Corporation, 2030 WRG
In Kenya, the FLI initiative collects and applies big-data to support farmer organizations in designing business models that address key agricultural water constraints in the country, including innovative finance, investment in water storage infrastructure, climate smart irrigation, input supply systems, value addition, post-harvest practices and formalizing market linkages. These business models will utilize innovative solar irrigation technologies, digitized market and supply chain linkages, and transportation systems to help increase water productivity across key smallholder farmer value chains.
Tanzania – Tanzania Irrigation Financing Mechanism
Partners: TADB, TAHA, Rikolto, KWSP, GRRC, 2030 WRG
In Tanzania, 2030 WRG is working with partners to develop an irrigation financing mechanism that includes scaling of digitized irrigation solutions for smallholder farmers across Tanzania. These digitized financial inclusion solutions are key to building smallholder farmer resilience to climate change through unlocking water-efficient irrigation.
India – Ramthal Full Automation and Scale-Up of Drip to Market Agro Corridor
Partners: Government of Karnataka, 2030 WRG
In Karnataka State, the Ramthal Drip Irrigation Project is the world’s largest fully automated irrigation system. The USD 130 million project has automated lift and drip irrigation systems across 24,000 hectares of agriculture land in Karnataka State. Due to the initial success of the project, the Ramthal Drip to Market Agro Corridor scale-up is underway. The scale-up will connect drip-irrigated areas to agribusiness markets, through the creation of a corridor resulting in 650,000 irrigated hectors. This will be made possible through the adoption of micro-irrigation technologies (drip, sprinkler, and rain guns), investment in infrastructure including cold chains logistics, packing house and processing plants; and market linkages for high-value agriculture and horticulture crops.
India – Blockchain Technologies
Partners: Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2030 WRG
In India, 2030 WRG hosted a hack-a-thon which challenged participants to apply technology to the issue of wastewater reuse. The winning solution was the application of blockchain technologies promoting the automation and validation of wastewater reuse certificates. A similar use of blockchain technology for urban and rural agriculture abstraction, receipting and traceability is proving effective across India for smallholders.
Joy also shared examples of how IFC and the World Bank are using GIS systems, remote sensing and radar technologies to collect and analyze data for projects in Africa while mainstreaming FLI in irrigation policies, strategies, and investment projects.
It is clear that digitization of FLI has had great success stories across Asia and increasingly in Africa, but it is not a silver bullet. Alongside digitization, ongoing investments in policy reform, MSP partnerships, and farmers themselves is required for the successful scale-up of FLI.
World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. The event is organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute and brings together 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries to participate in the Week. This year’s theme is ‘Water for society – Including all’. Each year, experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today.
2030 WRG is looking forward to reconnect with partners and introduce our work to people who are less familiar with our programs. Please join us for the following 2030 WRG sessions:
Sunday 25 August, 2019 – 09:30 – 10:30 hrs. | Room L12
Polycentric Approach to WASH Access for All
Conveners: 2030 Water Resources Group | Global Water Leaders | Stockholm International Water Institute | The World Bank Group | Toilet Board Coalition | Veolia
- How can local governments ramp-up access to water and sanitation? Barriers to SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2 include poor cost recovery, lack of governance, and poor services.
- This workshop will scrutinize selected examples in which coverage and service improved at large scale, to help identify tipping points.
Sunday 25 August, 2019 – 11:00 – 12:30 hrs. | Room M6
Collective Action to the Last Mile/Kilometer
Conveners: 2030 Water Resources Group | UNGC CEO Water Mandate | World Business Council for Sustainable Development | World Economic Forum | Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development | Global Water Partnership
- Good water governance depends on stakeholders coming together to promote transparency and accountability—key for implementation of SDGs. The event will highlight the enhanced impacts of collaboration and focus on how to develop and scale collective action approaches, ensuring that all voices are included, and no one is left behind. The event will examine the role of the private sector in triggering water resources transformation through collaboration with others.
- This event will generate new, provocative thinking that addresses the paths — and barriers to collective action at a pivotal moment in history, and will take forward outputs to inform discussions and actions during World Water Week, Climate Week, and to wider audiences across the water, food, energy and climate spectrum.
- Actions towards closing the last mile for millions include topics such as inclusivity, trust building, resiliency, technology and innovation, and developing new narratives necessary to inform and advance the agenda.
Wednesday, 28 August, 2019 – 16:00-17:30 | Room L10
Circular Economy Approaches: Pathway to Achieving SDGs and Inclusion?
- Incorporating circular economy approaches in water and sanitation management supports the SDGs by creating restorative economies through wastewater treatment/reuse/resource recovery.
- The event will explore how silos can be broken, legal and regulatory structures changed, stakeholders engaged to drive adaptive management, and technology and market-based approaches used to scale solutions in fostering circular economies.
- The event provides an opportunity for dialogue among governments, the private sector and civil society on how to encourage the circular economy approach in the design process and use it to promote inclusiveness.
- This event will be dedicated to exploring the role that the circular economy approach can play in promoting inclusiveness and overcoming challenges in valuing water. Circular economy approaches can help overcome financial constraints and address the depletion of natural resources.
World Bank Water Program
The World Bank Group will convene and participate in over 30 sessions of World Water Week 2019 taking place from August 25-30.
Please click on the “Sessions” tab for a list of World Bank Group (co)-convened sessions and sessions with World Bank Group participating speakers.
You can also follow our sessions along via @WorldBankWater using #wwweek.
World Bank Pavilion
Please also join us at the World Bank pavilion in the expo area. We brought some of our recent publications for you to browse through and our colleagues will be happy to meet with you.
Sedapal, the state-owned water utility covering Lima city, has announced the execution of a Fund of almost USD 22 million (PER 73.5 million) in green infrastructure projects. The projects will reduce the water access gap investing in the middle and upper basins of the main surrounding rivers. 2030 WRG is the public-private dialogue platform where the guidelines and best practices for this process will be discussed.
The funds, collected through the Remuneration Mechanisms for Ecosystem Services established in 2015, will allow the implementation of green infrastructure projects such as lagoons, water harvesting, reforestation, terracing, and non-conventional water solution initiatives to reach those communities that have no access to water and sanitation in the neighboring areas of Lima, the Peruvian capital.
It is estimated that by the end of 2019, 100 projects will be selected and by the end of the year at least 5 or 6 projects will start its execution. According to Sedapal’ s New President of the Board of Directors, Francisco Dumler, the company is opening a new implementation area to manage these types of projects, that will generate a high impact on water stress reduction in Lima city, one of the most affected cities in Latin America by the problem and the second largest city in the world settled in a desert after Cairo.
2030 WRG is the dialogue platform that will bring together all the key stakeholders in the process of project identification and execution. A first meeting organized by 2030 WRG was held on August 6th to discuss Sedapal’ s Fund’s execution strategy. Representatives from SEDAPAL and the main public stakeholders in water management such as SUNASS, ANA, and the Ministry of Construction and Sanitation, as well as NGO Forest Trends, The Nature Conservancy and the World Bank were part of this first meeting.
With the support of Nestlé Waters Ethiopia, Coca-Cola Beverage Africa, and 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG), the Ethiopian Bottled Water and Soft Drink Manufacturing Industries Association (EBSMIA) has been awarded the Partnership for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030 (P4G) 2019 Start-Up Partnership Award, which recognizes new partnerships deemed to have exceptional potential for advancing social, environmental, and economic progress. The award includes funding of USD 100,000, which the Association together with its partners plans to use to establish an Ethiopian Beverage Alliance for Water to promote collective action for sustainable water resources management amongst beverage industry actors, government, and communities.
Although the beverage industry is among the fastest-growing sub-sectors in Ethiopia, there is low awareness about water-security risks facing both the sub-sector and communities. As groundwater becomes less and less available, companies are resorting to drilling deeper underground, which increases their operating cost and has the potential to cause conflict with local communities who rely on the same resources for their own water supplies.
A weak regulatory framework around water resources management and fragmented action further compound challenges for the sector, which manifest in less efficient water consumption, high drilling cost and deteriorating community health, creating an urgent need for a sustainable and transparent production system.
Using these challenges as marketable incentives for change, the proposed Alliance aims to build a first-of-its kind industry-wide water accounting framework based on a sample survey of overall water use efficiency among its partners in beverage and develop a roadmap towards increased sustainability and accountability.
The survey – not widely practiced in the Ethiopian industrial sector — will be an essential study to highlight the current and future balance of supply and demand for water resources. The study will facilitate for key partners to convene around clear data to develop action plans for more sustainable beverage industry standards and practices, creating benefits for the environment, Ethiopia, and its people.
This article was originally published by the Ethiopian Bottled Water and Soft Drink Manufacturing Industries Association (EBSMIA)
In July, 2030 Water Resources Group Tanzania launched the first-ever private sector roundtable to formalize a dedicated dialogue mechanism between the government and water-thirsty businesses on water management issues, subsequently aiming to enable the private sector to participate more fully in the country’s water resources management.
The roundtable, which is intended to be a yearly event, is intended to provide an opportunity for open discussion about the challenges faced by businesses in relation to water access and use and to identify and initiate collaborations between stakeholder groups that have traditionally operated independently in the context of water management.
The private sector perspective has been missing in existing water resource management forums, explained Dr. George Lugomela, Director of Water Resources for the Ministry of Water. “This is a missed opportunity in tapping into their innovativeness, experience and private sector capital in addressing water security challenges,” he said.
The July meeting was an opportunity for businesses to share common water-related challenges and provide recommendations for how these could be addressed moving forward.
The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) highlighted that some companies are unable to access sufficient water to meet their operational needs, forcing many to invest in boreholes or purchase water from private water-trucks to supplement municipal supply. In addition, some commercial water users have had to contend with water user fees that have been subject to change with little advance warning from Basin Water Boards, resulting in unpredictable costs.
Proposed avenues for addressing these concerns included increasing wastewater treatment capacity, particularly in Dar es Salaam; normalizing water user fees across Basin Water Boards; providing incentives for business to invest in water-use efficiency technologies; and drafting a code of ethics to cover water-use in industry.
These insights were welcomed by the Ministry of Water, which subsequently committed to taking-up the issues raised.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Water, Professor Mkumbo, said that he was pleased to see so much being done by the private sector on water resources management and echoed the need to take stock of the best policies, initiatives, and practices and to bring them to the national framework.
The next roundtable meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 2020.
2030 WRG is partnering with the World Economic Forum, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the UN CEO Water Mandate, and the Alliance for Water Stewardship on a global initiative to promote water-resilient textiles production, starting with four key countries of Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and India. The initiative aims to promote collaboration between public and private sector leaders in the textiles supply chain to advance good practices in water stewardship and country-level policy and program implementation. A leaders level discussion on this initiative is planned during World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit in September 2019 in NYC.
By Anjali Parasnis, Ajith Radhakrishnan and Mahesh Patankar (2030 WRG India team)
Emerging standards in wastewater treatment and monitoring:
Globally, wastewater treatment is now perceived to be at par with the imperative to treat freshwater for human consumption. However, levels of contamination and treatment of water bodies still significantly vary across regions. Among other countries in South Asia, the state of contamination and treatment of water bodies in India is still evolving. According to the 2018 report of the Government of India’s (GOI) think tank Niti Ayog, 70% of India’s water resources is contaminated. Additionally, out of the 122 countries assessed for the water quality index, India is ranked number 120. This is mainly due to the raw sewage and unprocessed industrial effluent water flowing into the country’s major rivers and water bodies. Fortunately, the GOI’s initiatives are moving in the right direction as seen in recent efforts to assign economic value to treated wastewater. Progress is likewise reflected in the January 2018 tariff order of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, as well as in the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) recent order insisting on stringent standards for wastewater treatment. The NGT order in particular marks the first time that standards related to key parameters (e.g. biological and chemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, nitrogen (ammonia and nitrates), phosphorus, and fecal coliform) were made strict. In summary, the GOI is poised to offer a substantial boost to efforts toward wastewater treatment and reuse.
AMR – an emerging global threat and its link with the water sector:
All around the world, a new threat to water bodies and human health has been identified. Specifically, the contamination of water bodies due to residual antibiotics found in sewage and industrial effluents, has been determined as the next priority area in need of immediate attention. Antibiotics used for human consumption and for applications in animal husbandry, as well as effluents disposed from drug manufacturing facilities enter into ecosystems, water sources, and food chains. In several emerging economies, the poultry industry uses high amounts of antibiotics in bird feed that is used to raise broilers. The presence of these residual antibiotics in turn develops antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among the microbial organisms present in wastewater and soil. This phenomenon poses a serious threat to human health. Meanwhile, recently published media reports warn that the world’s water bodies are contaminated with dangerous levels of antibiotics.
We attempt to evaluate what recent global studies inform us regarding the vulnerability of the Indian agriculture sector, which is a major consumer of water. The agricultural practices and irrigation in drought-prone areas mainly depend on water sourced from nearby rivers or streams, or else from groundwater. Due to the contamination of water bodies, toxins such as heavy metals, residual pesticides, organic chemicals, and antibiotics are carried, through water, onto agricultural areas and food chains, thus introducing serious threats to human health and to the environment. There is hence a need to sensitize stakeholders to the threats of using unprocessed wastewater for agricultural applications. Equally necessary is a call for action to define the problem in the Indian context. Monitoring of antibiotic and drug residues in wastewater as well as their further processing using modern technologies are essential to India’s development process.
Presence of drugs like antibiotics, pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs), and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the aquatic environment is a global concern. These compounds, reported to have adverse impacts on the health of humans, animals, aquatic life, and the wider environment, have been detected in various quantities from treated wastewater, surface water, and groundwater. More importantly, through exposure to antibiotics from wastewater, natural microorganisms have acquired resistance to many antibiotics, which occurrence is regarded as a threat to modern medicine (Box 1).
Global efforts to identify the extent of AMR
Given the growing global problem of drug-resistant infections and its implications, the UK Prime Minister commissioned the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2015. According to the WHO, 490,000 people around the world developed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the year 2016, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, too. Furthermore, the treatment failure of the drug of last resort (DoLR) for gonorrhea (i.e. third-generation cephalosporin antibiotics) has been confirmed over the last few years in at least 10 countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). It is estimated that AMR may reduce world gross domestic product by 2-3% per year, imposing trillions of dollars on the already crushing global economic burden.
Global production and use of antibiotics is increasing considerably. Around 20 years ago, annual antibiotic usage was estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 tons globally. An assessment conducted in 76 countries from 2000 to 2015 also indicated a 65% increase in trends in and drivers of antibiotic consumption, expressed in defined daily dosage (DDD). Assuming the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario, consumption of antibiotics in 2030 has been projected to be up to 200% higher than the 42 billion DDDs estimated in 2015. Now besides human consumption, there are diverse applications of drugs in veterinary practices, animal husbandry, aquaculture, fisheries, agriculture, and medical research. The large quantities of used and unused drugs from all such applications are released into natural ecosystems in various forms, like parent compounds, derivatives, degradation intermediates, and/or a combination of all these forms. Only a few compounds are degraded in the ecosystem, but many are persistent and take a substantial amount of time to degrade completely.
Policy imperatives / Key action points:
In several emerging economies such as India, sectors like food processing, pharmaceuticals, and animal husbandry are identified as contributors to high growth and profits. Still and all, relevant policy interventions that are implemented at an early stage would be highly beneficial to circumventing the risks of AMR, and to instilling best practices for the protection of ecosystems in the process of development. A shortlist of priority policy directions are:
- Stringent regulation of the production and usage of antibiotics, drugs, and their precursors
- Restriction of the sale and overuse of drugs in human as well as veterinary applications: A strategic transition of antibiotic usage from over-the-counter (OTC) marketing status to strictly prescription-based (Rx) availability would be required.
- Early detection through integration of (Internet of Things) IoT for monitoring of antibacterial/drug contents in natural ecosystems, as well as of components of potable water resources and food chains
- Treatment and stringent periodic assessment of sewage water, industrial effluents, and sludge for presence of residual drugs as well as microflorae
- Budgetary provisions for establishing anaerobic treatment reactors, constructed wetlands, settling tanks, and/or other relevant treatment techniques
- Awareness among stakeholders regarding the concept of AMR and its causes and implications
 Global increase and geographic convergence in antibiotic consumption between 2000 and 2015, Eili Y. Klein, Thomas P. Van Boeckel, Elena M. Martinez, Suraj Pant, SumanthGandra, Simon A. Levin, Herman Goossens, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2018, 115 (15) E3463-E3470; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1717295115
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2001. Handbook on Advanced Non‐Photochemical Oxidation Processes. EPA/625/R-01/004. EPA Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/30004HSM.PDF?Dockey=30004HSM.PDF
Government of Uttar Pradesh launches a unique multi-stakeholder platform
LUCKNOW Wednesday, June 19, 2019 – The Government of Uttar Pradesh launched a unique new initiative on Wednesday to address water issues in the Hindon River, which is a second-level tributary of the River Ganga. The Chief Secretary of the UP Government, Shri Anup Chandra Pandey inaugurated a Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP) involving Government, private sector, civil society, academia as well as international representatives to catalyze collective action for rejuvenation of this dying river. He acknowledged the need for a participatory approach to tributary governance by saying: “I am positive to see such strong interest of stakeholders to work together to resolve the key water management issues in the Hindon basin.” The Chief Secretary charted the way forward through collaboration between government departments, private and public actors and stakeholder engagement and commended good practices for replication and scale up.
The State Government is committed to a long-term tributary management program which is coordinated under the State Mission for Clean Ganga, because cleaning rivers requires continuous and coordinated action.
At this first Steering Board meeting of this Multi-Stakeholder Platform which has been set up as per Government Order issued in February 2019 with support from 2030 Water Resources Group, key decisions to ensure effective monitoring and to take coordinated actions were taken. Working Groups with public and private co-leadership were formed. International and local experts opined on new approaches, models and technologies to accelerate rejuvenation of the Hindon. The Government of India and Govt of Uttar Pradesh are placing emphasis on rejuvenation of tributaries of River Ganga. Collective action by all stakeholders was identified as key to ensuring sustainable rejuvenation of Hindon river basin.
Preceding the Steering Board meeting, 70 representatives including State Government’s Department of Minor Irrigation, Agriculture, Industries & UP Pollution Control Board, NABARD, International Organizations like India EU Water Partnership (IEWP), German International Cooperation (GIZ), UNIDO, Worldbank and various country representatives, leading private sector corporations, civil society organisations and academia had detailed discussions on key water management issues. The discussions were led by Principal Secretary Urban Development Department and Clean Ganga, Sri Manoj Kumar Singh, who is championing this initiative.
The meeting also saw presence and support from Israeli delegation and active participation from Hungary and Netherlands Embassies, showing great commitment to Hindon. The Israeli delegation was led by the Mr. Barak Granot, Consul Head of Economic and Trade Mission. Apart from all the relevant government ministries on this MSP, the honorable Chief Secretary acknowledged the strong presence of private sector which was represented by FICCI, MSME Foundation, UP Sugar Mills Association, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), etc. Key private sector companies include HCL, ITC, Mahindra, Tata Sons, DCM Shriram, etc. There was also a strong participation from UChicago – Tata Centre for Development, as well as Civil Society Organizations represented by WWF-India, INTACH, India Water Partnership, etc.
During the Steering Board meeting, the MSP was officially launched with appointment of the Steering Board, core expert group members, and chairs of Working Groups. The River Basin Management Cycle (RBM) and the Key Water Management Issues were discussed (KWMI). A pathway for the next 6 months with pilot programs for early action were agreed upon. Several synergies were identified and work will commence with collaborative efforts from all the relevant stakeholders. The meeting also led to formalization of working groups under the MSP with representation from GoUP, Private Sector, Civil Society and Academia. Detailed follow-up meetings will be held subsequently. Inputs from this meeting will go towards finalizing a Vision Document for the Hindon Basin and Tributary Management Approach.
The Chief Secretary appreciated 2030 WRG’s efforts to put together the MSP under the guidance of Principal Secretary – Urban Development Department and advised a follow up meeting in 6 months.
The 2030 Water Resources Group aims at supporting Governments in their long-term development and economic growth plans by catalyzing sustainable water sector transformations and accelerating reforms. It is an innovative public-private-civil society platform for collaboration at national/local levels. It mobilizes stakeholders from public and private sector, civil society, centers of academic expertise and financing institutions to engage in fact-based, analytical water security approaches and coalition building for collective action.
In India, 2030 WRG has an ongoing partnership with the State Governments of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, and collaborates with the Ministry of Water Resources of the Government of India. The 2030 WRG was initiated in 2008 by a few leading corporations, development agencies, donors, and civil society organizations. After an incubation phase within the World Economic Forum, it is anchored within the World Bank Group since March 2012.
Senior Strategic Adviser and Program Coordinator Uttar Pradesh, 2030 Water Resources Group
Annelieke Laninga (Anna)
Coordinator Hindon & Ganga Tributary Management, 2030 Water Resources Group
Phone: 0091 98 9989 2274
The Kenya Industrial Water Alliance (KIWA) organized a third peer-2-peer learning exchange visit under the ‘Leading by Example’ initiative supported by 2030 WRG to share best practices in industrial water management.
Nestlé Kenya Limited is the local branch of Nestlé S.A., the largest food and beverage company in the world with over 2000 brands globally. Although the factory’s water needs are relatively small as the factory produces only dry products which are manufactured using dry processes, water plays a critical role in its every-day operations, and the company has made water stewardship a priority at all levels of the organization.
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.