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January-March this year was a rich harvest quarter for the National Irrigation Authority. The NIA participated in three forums aimed at attracting investors and new donor partnerships in irrigation development. They were the Dubai Expo 2020, where the Authority participated in the Kenya Week celebration from February 14 to 18, high-level business forum, and Blue Economy where the Authority showcased the irrigation investment and business opportunities in Kenya. The World Water Forum 2022 in Dakar from March 22 to 26 was a knowledge sharing platform on global water challenges and solutions.

In the water forum themed ‘Water Security for Peace and Development’, the Authority participated in various panel discussions, including innovative financing, water productivity; climate change resilience and the water-food-energy nexus.

Among other gains, the Authority established contacts with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on blended financing for irrigation, private sector engagement models and multi-sectoral projects approach. It engaged the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations on irrigation data application and knowledge sharing, capacity building on uptake of technologies, livelihood programmes and operation and maintenance of infrastructure for impactful interventions; and, water-food energy approach in project conceptualisation.

During the Dubai Expo, the Authority made pitches for investment in irrigation for uptake by the Middle East Region, Europe and other global investors in irrigation infrastructure, technology; irrigation water management and innovations; agro-processing, contract farming and marketing.

The Authority successfully established a network with various countries (Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Norway, France, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands) and information on funding organisations (Abu Dhabi Fund, Saudi Fund) for potential partnerships between Kenya and various countries in irrigation development and management.

The NIA held follow-up and technical meetings with country representatives of Norway, Iran, Kuwait, and the Netherlands during the third quarter and mutual areas of interest established.

Consultations with Norway and its development agency in Nairobi (Innovation Norway) introduced the NIA to the Norwegian Institute of Bio economy Research for collaboration and research. Both parties agreed to forge partnership to develop joint research programmes especially in water management, water use, agronomy/crop production, pest and disease management, surveillance and modelling, climate smart agriculture, carbon monitoring and innovative technology transfer and extension approaches. The Authority also participated in the Norwegian delegation agri-tech roundtable meeting and ongoing meeting for possible collaboration in deep groundwater exploration and renewable energy solution programes.

Further consultations with the Embassy of the Netherlands assessed the upscaling of the Dutch food security irrigation interventions with the Laikipia Isiolo Samburu Transforming the Environment through Nexus (LISTEN) programme team. Linkage with KIFFWA Foundation for investment in Kenya’s irrigation, possible capacity building in water use, geo-data application, and follow-up on water productivity (WaPro) technology by FAO, partnership on irrigation-oriented research with the Think and Do Tank team, and partnership on climate change resilience intervention in ASALs for food security and conflict management (peace dams) have been captured.

Engagements with the Islamic Republic of Iran that are well versed in irrigation in the desert, groundwater exploration, desalination and solar pump systems were successful. Notably, Iran is keen on agro-processing for cotton and palm oil value chain investment by the Iranian private sector
Already there are ongoing consultations with Tana River County on cotton ginnery and the Authority is following up on incorporation of Hola and Bura Irrigation schemes in the joint programme.
The Sultanate of Oman representatives expressed interest in livestock sector-oriented projects, building on the Kenya-Oman memorandum of understanding (MoU) on livestock and welcomed proposals for irrigated pastures and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in livestock value chain development.

Consultations with Kuwait through the Embassy looked at the implementation progress of the Bura Irrigation Development Project (Korakora gravity canal) and identified opportunities for other areas of collaboration and partnership with Kuwait Fund. Food security tops Kuwait’s interests among other areas of cooperation, including Health, Education, Agro-Forestry and Climate Change financing. The Authority intends to advance proposals for projects in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) for consideration and participation in meetings for the inaugural Kenya-Kuwait joint commission for cooperation.

At the Kenya-Saudi Arabia joint commission for cooperation, the NIA engaged with representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. The NIA is finalising the proposed areas of collaboration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia towards development of an MoU on irrigation and partnership with the Saudi Fund for Development.

The Authority has also held talks with the France Agency for Development (AFD) on food security and climate resilience interventions.

Through these engagements, the Authority seeks to implement what has been agreed, follow up to develop joint programmes and officially submit areas of collaboration and project proposals to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Treasury for action, among them enhanced funding for various projects.