Multi-billion water project launched in Western Kenya to promote irrigation farming

The Ksh7 billion (US$70 million) project dubbed Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project will spread across 10,000 acres of land with a view of producing enough food to serve the entire region.

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Deputy President of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto (third from left) and other leaders joins a farmer in planting rice at the launch of Lower Nzoia Irrigation project. [Courtesy/DPPS]

A multi-billion water project has been launched in Western Kenya to help address perennial floods in parts of the region and promote irrigation farming.

The Ksh7 billion (US$70 million) project dubbed Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project will spread across 10,000 acres of land with a view of producing enough food to serve the entire region. 5,000 acres is expected to be under high value crops and the other 5,000 acres under rice and food crops to benefit 12,000 households.

At least 34km of dykes will be constructed besides River Nzoia to prevent it from bursting its banks and discharging water which would wreak havoc on farms and homes.

The project is projected to benefit at least 60,000 people from two western counties of Busia and Siaya.

While launching the project, Kenya’s Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto said that a weir will be constructed to regulate water flowing into River Nzoia from other rivers outside the county.

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“Food security is one of our Big Four agendas and we are committed to ensuring that we have sufficient food and farmers get money,” said Ruto

Residents are optimistic the relaunch of the Irrigation Scheme will see rice production in the region jump to a new level.

The project under the National Irrigation Board was conceived in 2006 to help combat perennial flooding at the lower Nzoia areas, while diverting the water and using it for irrigation.

The National Irrigation Board has said that some preliminary works, which include the construction of concrete diversion weir, 135m connecting channel and 2.7km canal, are ongoing.

Kenya’s Irrigation Permanent Secretary, Fred Segor, said the project was set to be a fully-fledged agribusiness venture with production and value addition.

He announced that there were efforts to ensure the project is completed in 2021 as had been envisioned.