Turkana Irrigation Projects


The National Irrigation Authority through Expanded National Irrigation Programme (ENIP) developed 14 Community Managed and Run Irrigation schemes in Turkana County between the year 2011 and 2015. In a few of the schemes specifically Kolioro, Nadapal, Loborot and Nadoto, The Irrigation Authority carried out rehabilitation through the de-siltation of main canals and reinstatement of flood protection bunds during the year 2016. Whereas a few were newly constructed most of the schemes draw their waters from R. Turkwel that is prone to flooding. While Morulem abstracts its water from Kerio River. The schemes are at different stages of operations and production.

Objectives of the Rapid Assessment

  1. The Objective of this assignment was to check the status of the irrigation schemes in terms of operation as well as determine the production levels.
  2. The assessment will also provide recommendations for bringing stalled projects back into production, intensify production in others that are still operational and identify schemes that have high potential for expansion.


Katilu Irrigation scheme is located in Turkana County in south sub - county approximately 130km south of Lodwar town. The project was started in 1966 but came to operation in 1970 through joint effort of Ministry of Agriculture who provided recurrent costs and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) who provided capital cost and technical personnel.

The scheme is situated along River Turkwel; which is perennial, and irrigation water is diverted by gravity through earth canal to the scheme.

The objective of the scheme was to settle some selected number of Nomadic families from famine camps in the County.

The scheme by then consisted of about 500acres with each family allocated 1acre as tenant. The main crops grown were; maize, cotton, Okra, Sorghum etc.

In 1982 the NORAD through the Ministry of Agriculture, changed the irrigation system from Furrow to Basin system.

Progress of works

  1. Rehabilitation of Irrigation infrastructure.

    The National Irrigation Authority in 2011 started rehabilitation of the scheme with an aim of reinstating the furrow irrigation system.

    The irrigation infrastructure was dilapidated with most farmers’ field and access roads covered with huge trees and prosofis.

    The main activities under rehabilitation were;

    • Bush clearing the entire scheme
    • Desilting of main canals, feeder canals and drainage canals
    • Construction of dyke of 8.5 km length.
    • Opening of access roads and grading
    • Construction and installation of canal water control structures.
    • Construction of feeder canals check boxes.
    • Lining of main canal at intake (150 meters length).
  2. Crop Production.

    After the rehabilitation of the scheme the farmers requested to be supported in crop production. The farmers were provided with the following:

    1. Land preparation - ploughing, harrowing and ridging.
    2. Provision of farm inputs - hybrid seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides
    3. Linkage of farmers to market- Irrigation Authority introduced the farmers to National Cereals and Produce Board in 2012 where 2,800bags of maize each weighing 90 kgs were delivered in Lodwar depot they also linked farmers that had planted water melons to Tullow oil Company where the farmers sold their ripped melons and in 2017 linked the horticultural farmers to Kakuma Refugee Camp through WPF for marketing their produce such as: tomatoes, watermelon, sukuma wiki, kale, bananas, fruits etc
  3. Crop diversification.

    Irrigation Authority has introduced a variety of crop in the area through our research demonstration farm, such as Nerica 4 rice, green grams, watermelons, Tissue culture bananas and Butternut. This has helped in control of pests, diseases and improvement of soil fertility. As the result of the above interventions, the crop yields improved as well as income of farmers. The increment in yields is as shown below:

    Average yields after intervention

    Maize PH4 variety-22bags of 90kgs per acre, Green grams-9bags of 90kgs per acre, Sorghum -8 bags of 90 bags per acre, Rice Nerica 4- 26 bags paddy (75kg) per acre, DKC 90-89 maize-35 to 40 bags of 90kgs, DKC 777 maize-30 to 35 bags of 90kgs.

    In 2018 the Authority introduced new maize varieties in the scheme DKC 90-89, DKC 777 AND SY 594 which are high yielding and resistant to most crop disease.

  4. Handling of produce.

    The Authority improved the handling of harvested crops by providing the following facilities; weighing balance, tarpaulins for drying, maize shelter, pallets, moisture meters.

  5. Weed control and Pest control.

    The Irrigation Authority has continued to sensitize farmers on need to use chemicals in controlling of weeds and armyworms in their fields in order to realize high yields. Since the introduction of these modern agricultural practices, most farmers are able to be in production throughout the year.

  6. Capacity Building.

    For the farmers to realize high crop yields through proper crop husbandry management practices, Irrigation Authority carried out sensitization and capacity building through the following ways;

    1. Opening of demonstration plots/ model farm. A plot of 3.5 acres was allocated to Irrigation Authority by farmers to be used for research activities and demonstration to farmers on various crop husbandry practices.
    2. Training and tours-to improve the productivity in the scheme Irrigation Authority has exposed the scheme farmers to other irrigation schemes in Kenya through tours. Further Irrigation Authority has trained 1500 farmers through in door as well as quarterly Field Days.
    3. Registration of farmers’ Self-Help Groups- in 2012, Irrigation Authority organized the registration of 41 Self-Help Groups at Social Services Department in Lodwar. The farmers were introduced to Equity bank in Lodwar where all the group and famers opened their group accounts and personal accounts respectively.

Current Status

The scheme farmers requested Irrigation Authority in 2012 to expand the scheme with 1500 acres. Currently 1500acres has being opened and cropping is on-going and laying of irrigation water control infrastructure on the remaining 500 acres is on course. The scheme total acreage is 2000 acres which is currently cropped with maize, sorghum, Green grams and Horticultural crops.

Benefits of the Project

  1. Improvement of irrigation efficiency

    By re-fabricating new irrigation water control gates, desilting of canals & drains to their design capacity as well as raising, the walls of main canal at intake site by lining. All these interventions have enabled the irrigation water to be supplied at required quantity and to flow to all the blocks as expected.

  2. Effectiveness

    By re-instating furrow irrigation system, use of siphon pipes to irrigate and intensive on-farm training/ sensitization of farmers on crop husbandly practices have high impact on:

    • Increase of crop yields – due to timely irrigation with required quantity, use of fertilizer and control of weeds by use of herbicides.
    • Improvement of irrigation uniformity in the fields.
    • Reduced cases of water-logging in the fields
  3. Food security

    As compared to year 2010, the Katilu Ward has being receiving sufficient food supply from the irrigation scheme thus reducing dependency on relief food supply.

  4. Social & economic impact

    The opening of scheme has attracted most of the local people to the activities in the scheme thus reducing idleness, drunk-ness as well as construction of permanent residential house.


  1. Lack of adequate knowledge on modern agricultural practices (spacing, siphoning, use of fertilizers, use of hybrid seeds & chemicals etc.).
  2. Lack of operation and maintenance fee for irrigation infrastructure (O&M fee)
  3. Weak farmer institutions (Water Users Association (WUA) Cooperative Society).
  4. Lack of proper cooperation and co-ordination among scheme leaders.
  5. Lack of Heavy machinery for maintenance of irrigation infrastructure.( Excavator , Dozzer , Grader)
  6. Lack of stable market for farm produce.
  7. Lack of adequate post -harvest handling facilities (stores, drying floors etc.).
  8. Conflict between crop farmers and livestock farmers.
  9. Pests and diseases e.g. Army worm
  10. Menace brought by vast spreading of Prosopis (mathenge)
  11. Social and cultural beliefs – Gender issues
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