Result area one under the MaMaSe project involves development of a sound water allocation plan for the Mara basin besides strengthening capacity of water resource management organisations involved along the Mara River basin. Stakeholders involved in this result area convened in Narok on 10th October for a consultative meeting to review findings from the 7 abstraction surveys which had been undertaken between September and December 2015 along the Mara River Basin. The group involved representatives from UNESCO-IHE, Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA), NELSAP (Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program), different Water Resource Users Associations WRUA's, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and representation from Narok and Bomet Counties.

Mara river basin

Areas where the abstraction survey was undertaken ; Talek, Lemek, Sand River, Mara, Nyangores & Amala

With the support of MaMaSe, WRMA undertook the abstraction survey. This involved identifying key users, quantifying existing water demands in relation to water allocation permits and quantifying river flows in relation/ comparison to the existing water demands in Mara River Basin. According to Muigai Munene, Water rights officer WRMA; the training support provided by MaMaSe’s lead partner  UNESCO-IHE which included modern water survey equipment and  the open data kit (ODK), made the excise much easier as data obtained was more accurate since it was directly digitalized (compared to the manual transcriptions done before). Hence the risk of altering data was eliminated. According to findings from the reports, water in these rivers was used for public, domestic, institutions, livestock, tourism,  wildlife and industrial users with a total of three hundred and nine abstracters in the Mara sub-basins.

To mimic how water resources are sought after by different user groups along the basin, the team simulated on how different users demand for water while remaining oblivious of other users who are equally entitled to this finite resource.

Different water users demo

Simulation of how different users demand for certain water quantity.

pie chart

Percentage of water abstracted  

Despite the milestones achieved while undertaking the survey, the team experienced several challenges which included; Lack of reliable  information / Data (No records, owners not present), estimation of volumes abstracted-lack of meters for most abstractors, water quality monitoring stations had not been developed and therefore identification of pollution points not easy, Inconsistent monitoring of hydrological network which is often occasioned by vandalism of RGS. They however leveraged on support by MaMaSe and the Water Resource Users Association to help  identify abstractors/ abstraction points which were documented.

According to Francis Edalia,  acting Technical Coordination Manager based at WRMA headquarters, these abstraction surveys are important in determining the extent to which water has been allocated, detect non-compliance and illegal water use, act as a link with allocation plan to provide input into the allocation plan but the plans need to ensure the issue of equitable distribution of this key resource including  maintaining a healthy reserve flow for the environment. This was reiterated by representatives from Bomet and Narok county directorate of the environment. On the other hand Joseph Kones; Vice Chairman, Mara River Water Users Association MRWUA, the abstraction survey report and deliberations  very insightful to help understand what was taken into consideration and how the Water Resource Users Associations WRUA's and WRMA can complement each other in coming up with a viable water allocation plan. He further added that with the support of WRMA and the initiatives that MaMaSe is undertaking in the upper Mara Basin to sensitize the populace on simple water harvesting techniques, this will go a long way to addressing the huge illegal abstraction  concern.

Professor Pieter van der Zaag on water resource management from UNESCO-IHE and Klass-jan Douben a senior advisor on water Management , from Water Authority Brabanste Delta in The Netherlands  recounted the moment they started working on helping to structure the abstraction survey process "Two years ago, when we got involved in the project, it was unclear on whether stakeholders were interested in developing such a plan, fast forward to this year, it is amazing how this process has garnered interest from all stakeholders. The caliber of suggestions, contributions and feedback we have  received from this workshop goes to show the magnitude of the need to conserve the entire Mara River basin and the environment at large."

Further to the deliberations from the workshop, Mr. Edalia  noted that Information such as number and location of water sources (BH, Springs etc.) should be shared by other people, a progressive report to be submitted to WRMA HQ on what is being done to make the abstractors compliant to the rules and regulations of WRMA and more collaboration should be done amongst the different stakeholders.

For abstraction surveys and water allocation plans to seamlessly work, a water pollution survey to be done, WRUA's need to be strengthened in terms  of capacity and scope of involvement, cooperation between Counties and WRMA on future developments within the basin should be enhanced and consultations will be done at WRMA level to determine how far into the future the water allocation plans (WAP) should cover.