Water Resources Allocation and Use in the Lower Sondu Miriu River Basin, Kenya
KATHOMI, Beatrice Kinyua
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The adoption of a holistic approach to water resources allocation where all water resources in a river basin, their quality, quantity and the socioeconomic linkages are considered has been a global issue. However, small scale water resources use across river basins in the world are numerous, which limit how and to what extent they should be managed. They are as a result not adequately known yet when concentrated in a given area, leads to depletion of water resources. Also, when small scale water users are unknown, their rights to water are likely to be violated by the allocating authority and estimating their cumulative impact is difficult. Information about small scale water resources use in Kenya just like in the Lower Sondu Miriu River Basin (LSMRB) is limited. Thus, water resources are often allocated on a "first come first served" basis which has limited regard on small scale uses. As a result, many households living in rural areas have had their rights to water for domestic and other productive uses violated. This study therefore focused on small scale water resources allocationand use in the LSMRB. The specific objectives of the study were to: identify water resources in the Lower Sondu Miriu River Basin and their accessibility to households; establish water resources allocation and use and identify the socioeconomic factors influencing household water allocation in the basin. A cross sectional descriptive research design was adopted for the study. From a target of 39,818 households, 384 were sampled proportionately from the five districts within which LSMRB lie using stratified simple random sampling. A household questionnaire, key informant interview guides, Focus Group Discussion (pGD) guides, an observation checklist and photography were used in primary data collection while journals and policy papers provided secondary data. Six key informants were interviewed and ten FGDs conducted. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse quantitative data while qualitative data was summarised and emerging patterns analysed, The study established that 85.4% of households in LSMRB primarily drew water from surface water sources. On average, a household allocated 119.7 litres of water for domesticuse per day, 107.2 for livestock, 332.6 for irrigation, 496.4 for vending and 51.6 for use in commercial entities. Livestock water use was practised by 62.2% of the households, irrigation 18.2% commercial use 6.8% and vending 5.7%. Increase in household size (r = 0.841) was associated with increase in quantity of water allocated for household domestic use, supply population (r, = 0.897) with increase in quantity of water allocated for vending . and animal population (r = 0.486) with quantity allocated for livestock use all at P<O.Ol. Surfacewater was the main source of water in LSMRB but households only had basic access to water. Therefore, WRMA, WRUA and Water Services Providers in the basin should prioritize allocation of water from surface water sources to household domestic and productive uses, taking into consideration the various socioeconomic factors identified to influencequantities of water allocated.