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The National Irrigation Authority started implementing the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project in June 12, 2018 with the goal of mitigating floods and increasing the acreage under irrigation in Busia and Siaya counties.

Divided into two phases, it sits on both banks of the mighty River Nzoia.
The Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, through the Kenya Water Security and Climate Resilience Program (KWSCRP) signed a contract with Lahmeyer International GmbH (Lead Firm) on October 4, 2016 in a joint venture with GFA Consulting Group GmbH, both of Germany. It is in association with Quadrant Engineering Consultants of Kenya who provide consulting services in connection with the Improvement of Flood Mitigation Structures (IFMS) on Lower Nzoia River and the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project (LNIP), known as the Lower Nzoia Project (LNP).

The World Bank and KfW are financing the LNIP component with a contribution from the beneficiaries and GoK, while the World Bank and GoK are funding the IFMS.

Implementation of Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project

Construction works of the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project Lot: Phase 1 undertaken by Sinohydro Corporation Ltd of China targets to benefit 12,600 farmers through irrigation and drainage services by putting 10,000 acres under production on the left bank. The second phase is expected to bring another 10,000 acres under irrigation on the right side. The beneficiaries are expected to put 5,000 acres under high-value crops and 5,000 acres under rice and other food crops, thereby generating an estimated revenue of KSh4.8 billion annually.

Currently, the National Irrigation Authority is implementing Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development Project with the aim of shifting from pump-fed to gravity irrigation, which is cheaper. Once complete, the project will support Bunyala Irrigation Scheme farmers with enough water for irrigation through gravity and support an additional 10,000 acres of rice production. Once the project is complete, the full potential of 20,000 acres will be realised.According to the Scheme Manager, Eng. Edwin Manyonge, Bunyala is working on a two-cropping programme per year. The scheme is also working on an alternative crop within the 12-month period alongside rice. The alternative crop will add yields to the farmer, thereby increasing their income and help in fixing of the soils from pest related to rice.

No Component % of completion
1 Diversion weir (1 No.) 100
2 Intake Structure and AVIO gates (1 No.) 98
3 Covered Connecting Channel (145m) 100
4 Head Works Canal and service road (2.76 km) 99
5 Emergency Weir and AVIS gate (1 No.) 99
6 Sand Trap (1 No.) 89
7 Main Canal (Lined) (Irrigation Blocks 1-5: 21.8 km) 89
8 Main Canal Box Culverts, Duckbill weirs, Cross Drainage structures 88
9 Main Canal Aqueduct (1 No.) 100
10 Nyadorera Irrigation Management Facilities 89
11 Bunyala Irrigation Management Facilities 90
12 Bunyala Scheme Rehabilitation 90
13 Rehabilitation of Bunyala buildings 90
14 Main Canal (Unlined) (Irrigation Blocks 6,7,10: 9.65km) 0
15 Secondary Canal, Structures and Service Road (Irrigation Blocks 6,8-14: 29.6 km) 0
16 Tertiary Canal, Structures and Service Road (Irrigation Blocks 1-14:43km) 0

Objectives of Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project: Phase 1

Phase 1 of LNIP, currently at 65.8 per cent completion and 85.5 per cent time lapse targets to convey irrigation water through gravity, control the perennial flooding of Nzoia River through construction of a dyke as well as link the Bunyala Irrigation Scheme to the Lower Nzoia gravity intake through construction of a canal.

This will enable farmers get water through gravity and greatly reduce cost of production. Currently, Bunyala Irrigation Scheme gets its waters from River Nzoia through pumping and flows by gravity through open earth channels to the farms. With an average farm holding size of between one and four acres per farmer, the Bunyala Irrigation Scheme now has more than 2,500 households as beneficiaries, up from its initial population of 150 households. The scheme lies in Block 8 of the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project whose designed irrigation potential is 20,000 acres (10,000 acres in phase 1 and 10,000 acres in phase 2) on both banks of the river with more than 20,000 beneficiaries spread over Busia and Siaya counties.

Components of Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project: Phase 1

Components of the first phase include the construction of a diversion weir, intake structure, covered connecting channel, head works canal, emergency weir, sand trap, access road, main canal box culverts, main canal aqueduct, main canal duckbill weirs, and main canal cross drainage. In addition to the rehabilitation of Bunyala Irrigation Scheme infrastructure, there is the construction of Bunyala and Nyadorera irrigation management facilities.

Several parties are implementing the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project with the National Irrigation Authority overseeing its irrigation and drainage infrastructure development aspect while supporting agricultural production and establishment of market linkages through a value chain approach. The Authority is also supporting the expansion of Bunyala Irrigation Scheme as well as progressive transfer of responsibilities and decision making from the NIA to farmers organised in Irrigation Water Users Association and project management.

In implementing LNIDP, the Authority has co-ordinated farmers into producer groups under which they are being trained in agronomy through field demonstrations on selected plots and a demonstration farm in Bunyala. This is expected to boost their production capacity once LNIP is complete and the Authority is building the capacity of farmer cooperatives to facilitate marketing of produce.

Nonetheless, the implementation of the project has been slowed down by land compensation, denying the contractor access to the sites for construction works. To address this challenge, however, the design of the tertiaries has been reviewed and roads removed thereby reducing the size of land required and eliminating the need for acquisition. This is expected to hasten completion.

Implementation of LNIP aims at steering the country towards achieving food security and enhancing nutrition and standards of living.