Background Information

Mwea Irrigation Settlement Scheme (MIS) is located in Kirinyaga County and falls within two sub counties i.e. Mwea East and Mwea West sub counties. Development of the scheme started in 1954 from the Tebere section with about 65 acres in irrigation farming and has since grown to the current gazetted area of 30,050 acres. Out of these, 22,000 acres have been developed for paddy rice production while the remaining area is utilized for settlement, public utilities and growing of subsistence crops. Since then, expansion has been done to the freehold area (referred to as out-growers) surrounding the scheme by a total of 4,000 acres; hence the total area under paddy rice production in MIS is 26,000 acres of irrigation farming.

The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has improved, rehabilitated and developed irrigation infrastructure for the farmers to engage in production activities. The scheme lies along the drainage basins of Rivers Nyamindi and Thiba which supply the irrigation water. There is still potential of up to 10,000 acres for expansion within the surrounding areas. However, this is constrained by lack of sufficient water for irrigation. The scheme area is largely plane and predominantly covered with black cotton soils, with a few raised spots of red soil. Rice paddies have been developed on the low areas that are covered with black cotton soils while the high spots covered with red soils have been reserved for settlement and production of upland crops.

The current approach to scheme management is Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM), where the government through National Irrigation Authority and the farmers through their organizations (Irrigation Water User Association [IWUA], Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose [MRGM] and Lainisha Sacco) have partnered in management of the irrigation scheme. Each of the four i.e. the Authority, IWUA, MRGM and Lainisha, have clearly defined roles in PIM.

The Irrigation Authority’s key responsibility in scheme management is operation and maintenance of the primary and secondary infrastructure; while the farmers are responsible for the tertiary infrastructure. Other roles include land administration, capacity building, irrigation expansion and rehabilitation of the irrigation infrastructure.

Statistical Data


Mwea West and East Sub Counties of Kirinyaga County, approximately 100km North East of Nairobi City

Year of establishment


Gazetted Area

30,350 acres

Main Crop

Basmati Rice

Area under Irrigation

26,000 (22,000 acres in the main scheme & 4,000 acres in the out-growers)

Source of irrigation water

River Nyamindi and River Thiba.

No. of households/farmers


Type of irrigation

  • Conveyance System: - Partially lined open channels
  • Distribution System: - Earthen Canals
  • Application System: - Basin/flood Irrigation system

Other crops

Tomatoes, onions, French Beans, Maize and other horticultural crops

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