The National Irrigation Authority then Board was in charge of the scheme at its inception in 1978 up to 1985. Thereafter, the scheme management was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, then Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Land Reclamation, Regional and Water Development and back to Ministry of Agriculture up to 2002. In 2003, the scheme management changed to Ministry of Water and Irrigation. In December 2005, the scheme management again changed hands and was taken over by National Irrigation Authority.

The development of the Lower Tana Basin through development of irrigated agriculture became inevitable due to rapid increase of the country’s population since the 1950s and considering the fact that 80% of Kenya’s land area is arid or semi-arid.

It is therefore with this consideration that several studies were carried out in the lower Tana Basin that culminated in the World Bank’s Appraisal Report of 1977 and conception of Bura Irrigation and Settlement Project.The project is situated along the Tana River in Tana River County.

Statistical Data


Tana River County

Year of establishment


Gazetted Area

12000 Acres

Main Crop


Area under Irrigation

3500 Acres

Source of irrigation water

River Tana

No. of household farmers

2245 Farmers

Other Crops

Green grams, cowpeas, cotton, water melon and onions.

Type of irrigation

The scheme abstracts irrigation water from River Tana about 50 Km by pumping using diesel fueled generators and pump sets with a discharge capacity of 2.7m3 /sec. Once the irrigation water is lifted from the river, it flows by gravity through all the distribution system to the farms where farmers use siphons for applying in their fields.

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