Water is an important resource in national development and is a shared commodity among
communities and among wildlife mostly in rural environments. All lives are dependent on it with man
heavily relying on it as a key input in the production activities. Despite its unlimited use, water has
infinite supply. There is also a close and complex relationship between climate change and water use
with changes in climate variability significantly affecting water resources. Drought has claimed lives
of several wildlife species. This has posed a risk to the long-term survival of such species. Variability
in rainfall and temperature patterns affect the quality of habitat with the ensuing effect including
reduction in the population of wildlife species and soil moisture reduction among other effects.

While Kenya is considered as a home to some of the East Africa’s great water towers, nearly 90 percent
of Kenya is either arid or semi-arid. The country is also characterized by highly variable rainfall patterns,
a situation that is likely to be worsened by climate change. The country is already suffering from water
stress beyond the arid areas especially as the water rich regions continue to intensify their economic
activities which are water reliant. With the country’s ambitious agribusiness development plans, the
near future is projected to experience an even increase in demand for water which will compound the
already existing pressure. The country has also experienced a shift in control of water to decentralized
system though with some national organization also playing a role in it. Generally, water is a key
resource which is at the center of multisector growth and development and with host of benefits to
both flora and fauna. This calls for relentless pursuit to device approaches which will circumvent the
harsh threats facing this vital resource and consequently reap the inherent benefits.

Against this backdrop this study was carried to fulfil three key objectives. First, it was intended to
identify and establish the current conditions of shared water ecosystems in Siaya, Mombasa, Kakamega
and Tana River Counties. Secondly, the study examined policy and institutional framework on water
and water resources management, establishing their incoherence, inadequacies, and gaps. Thirdly, it
interrogated the disjuncture between the indigenous and modern practices of conserving or managing
water resources and shared water ecosystem. These objectives were addressed using a combination of
primary data collected across the four counties and the secondary data collected through desk review.
Primary data was collected using both Key informant interviews and focused group discussions. A
detailed objective analysis was conducted that led to several critical inferences.

The study found that river turbidity increases during rainy season occasioned by loose soils that are
swept into the water bodies. However, as the rivers widen and slows down the water become clearer.
There is also water shortage and water exploitation conflicts experienced across all the four counties,
a situation that is likely to be prolonged by unsustainable water use and conservation practices. On
the second issue, the study concludes that there are sufficient policy and regulatory frameworks
both at national and county level to govern water resources with the main challenge lying in the
implementation. Water was also noted as an underfunded sector. On the last objective, the study finds
a convergence in many aspects including riparian land protection and storage of drinking water in clay
pots. Finally, the findings also provide evidence that there is need to appreciate certain traditional
water resources conservation methods even in the present time. Ideally, not everything that is old is
obsolete.

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SHARED WATER ECOSYSTEMS STUDY – 21 Oct 2022 – EN