In the lower Gatanga region of Murang’a County, the residents of Ithanga and Kakuzi-Mitubiri wards are urging the government to accelerate the completion of ongoing water projects to mitigate recurrent food shortages in the area.

Facing acute drought conditions, the inhabitants emphasize the critical importance of water for irrigation, which would enable them to cultivate crops independently without solely relying on government food aid.

The arid nature of the Lower Gatanga region exacerbates food insecurity, with prolonged droughts leading to famine due to insufficient rainfall. Lack of piped water infrastructure forces residents to travel long distances to access water from dry riverbeds, while others resort to purchasing water from donkey cart vendors at a premium price of Sh20 per twenty-liter jerrican.

During an economic empowerment forum organized by area Woman Representative Betty Maina in Ngelelya town, residents highlighted their challenges and underscored the potential of irrigation and agriculture to improve their livelihoods.

Joyce Muthini, a resident, emphasized the transformative impact of water access on agriculture and education, expressing frustration over the current reliance on handouts due to the region’s dry conditions.

Kennedy Waweru, a water vendor, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the economic benefits of water provision through agriculture, which could stimulate the local economy.

Joseph Kimani raised concerns about the proximity of the Masinga Dam to their region, questioning why they still face water scarcity despite the dam’s presence. He emphasized the potential for agriculture, particularly fruit cultivation, to provide a sustainable income source for residents.

Betty Maina urged local institutions to harvest rainwater during the upcoming March-April rains, emphasizing the importance of education and water management in transforming communities.

Charles Karondo, Chair of the Athi Water Works Board, reassured residents of the government’s commitment to completing water projects in the region to enhance food security and correct historical injustices.

Vincent Kawaya, Member of Parliament for Mwala and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Petroleum, pledged to collaborate with local leaders and the National Irrigation Authority to address water scarcity through dam desilting projects.

During the event, women’s groups received funding from the National Government Affirmative Action Funds, elderly individuals above 67 years were provided with blankets, and all attendees received essential food items.

The gathering served as a platform for residents to voice their concerns and advocate for government intervention to address the water crisis and alleviate food shortages in the region.

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