Kitui county government says it will spend Sh750 million to rehabilitate the shrinking pre-independence Matinga dam in Kitui west sub-county.
Kitui Governor Julius Malombe says reckless human activity is the cause of the dying water source for almost 200,000 residents. He has expressed concern that heavy siltation has left the dam, which was scooped for the first time in 1955, without water.
He lamented that cultivation in the dam’s catchment area has led to heavy erosion, leading to the current siltation. Because of the dam’s current state, there is serious water scarcity for the residents.
Malombe says the dam, in Kauwi ward, had consistently served residents of Nguutani, Mutonguni and Kauwi wards, spread across Mwingi West and Kitui west sub-counties.
The governor’s remarks were contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Kitui Executive for Environment and Minerals, George Mulatya, recently. The fete was held near Matinga dam.
Malombe said his government would partner with national government agencies, donors and non-government groups to reclaim the dam. He said already the local community and Mumaki Water Resource Users Association had already been allowed to harvest silt and sand from the dam.
He said the county department of lands would also seek to evict people who have encroached into the dam area as its restoration gets underway.
The governor says they will also seek help of the Kitui Kenya Forestry Research Institute and the South Eastern Kenya University in rehabilitating the nearby but badly degraded Mutonguni hills and Kithyoka riverine.
Dams in Ukambani are viewed as life-saving, in a dry area where a woman’s life is defined by the burden of collecting water.