The National Development agenda under the Kenya Vision 2030 (KV2030) included irrigation expansion in its macroeconomics strategy for sustainable social and economic development. In order to capture irrigation expansion, KV2030 incorporated rehabilitation and expansion of infrastructure as a key pillar (pillar one). In addition, the KV2030 included equity and wealth creation under pillar two of the development plan. The actions to be taken for poverty reduction and equality interventions included increase in resource allocation for priority areas of agriculture and rural development. The backbone of Kenya economy is agriculture with a direct contribution of 24% of GDP and a further indirect contribution of 27% of GDP through links of agriculture with the manufacturing, distribution and service related sectors. Developed Irrigation agriculture contributes 10% towards GDP. Agriculture therefore forms the basis of National development under the KV2030. It is however observable that agricultural production experiences challenges including unreliable rainfall patterns in the country. This has created difficulties in enhancing crop production and animal husbandry. Taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances, Kenya has no option but to undertake irrigation expansion and development in order to attain national aspirations outlined in the KV2030.
In order to address affirmative action and promote equitable distribution of agricultural production resources, the irrigation expansion in Kenya puts emphasis on arid and semi-arid lands. This is undertaken as a strategy of improving livelihood of the marginalized communities living in these areas. The focus is on improving agricultural productivity through enhancement of irrigation intensification and expansion as a way of promoting sustainable food production. Kenya has irrigation potential of about 1,350,000 acres. Out of these only about 500,000 acres of irrigation have been developed. With improved water harvesting and water storage facilities the current irrigation potential could increase to about 1.9M acres.
It is therefore significant to exploit the huge potential for irrigation expansion to facilitate translation into higher contributions to food security and the total GDP. The expansion of area under irrigation must hence be viewed against the growing human population in the country so as to address food security. The implication herein is that food security will be enhanced through acceleration of irrigation expansion taking into consideration the rate of population growth. This strategy of increasing area under irrigation is addressed by the Expanded Irrigation Programme.
The programme involves provision of irrigation infrastructure for abstraction, conveyance, distribution and application of irrigation water for the various irrigation projects. For sustainability and reliability of irrigation water, the Authority has also embarked on providing water storage for irrigation, provision of water storage reservoirs and installation of greenhouses.
The Achievements of this programme can be summarized as follows:
- Construction of about 209 irrigation projects across all the 47 Counties
- Rehabilitation, expansion and modernization of public irrigation schemes that has seen the irrigation area increase from 23,326.5 acres to 35,326 acres.
- Installation of 714 greenhouses complete with drip kits in various parts of the country to act as pilot model projects on efficient irrigation practice benefitting 11,200 women and youth.
- Completed feasibility studies and detailed designs for 30 projects covering 430,000 acres.