Horticultural farms in Laikipia have been urged to be sensitive to other water users while abstracting river water for irrigation.

 The Laikipia County Commissioner (CC), Joseph Kanyiri, said that the cases of water resource-based conflicts had become common in the area as rivers continue to dwindle, owing to the prevailing dry weather.

“We are urging those big flower farms and other horticultural farms abstracting water from the river for irrigation, to consider other users downstream who also need the commodity,” Kanyiri said.

Further, Kanyiri cited a recent case early this week where angry residents of the Rumuruti area invaded a horticultural farm and destroyed irrigation infrastructure worth hundreds of thousands, accusing the farm of blocking the Ngare Narok River, leaving users downstream without water.

Kanyiri added that after a recent stakeholder forum with officials of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), the County Government Department of Water, and Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs), they decided to come-up with a water rationing schedule for all the rivers in the region.

“Other recommendations adopted in the meeting was that all big horticultural farms should have a 90-day water holding reservoir in order to ease the pressure of abstraction from local rivers,” he said.

WRA Regional Manager-In-Charge of Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin, John Munyao, said that the recent rains in the area were delayed and short, therefore, most rivers especially those flowing from Mt. Kenya did not have adequate water.

“Most rivers in the County are very stressed due to the abstraction of water for irrigation and if the situation is not urgently addressed there shall be more resource-based conflicts. That’s why we are rolling out rationing schedules in collaboration with our WRUAs,” Munyao said.

He added that Laikipia was currently rated at the alarm stage in terms of river water flows, with most flowing at below 50 percent of their capacity.

Munyao further said that joint sensitization meetings with stakeholders and residents would be held across the County, to ensure that everybody adheres to the rationing schedule.