Kenya is among the six countries of the Nile Equatorial lakes region,Nile Basin flows within Kenya form part of the inflow to Lake Victoria. Although the Nile Basin portion forms only about 8 percent of the national area, it is more significant in terms of water resources as much of the country has low rainfall. It has a total population of 31.9 million people and total land area of 582,640 sq. km.

The most important resources in Kenya are land and water. Out of Kenya’s total area of 582,646km2, land surface constitutes 581 671km2 and water 11,230 km2. Land suitable for arable agriculture is 16% while the rest 84% constitutes the arid and semi arid lands (ASALs), suitable only for extensive livestock production, wildlife and irrigated farming.

Kenya shares about 50% of her water resources with her immediate neighbours. The main shared waters bodies include four lakes: Victoria, Turkana, Jipe and Chala; as well as rivers in the following basins.

• Lake Jipe/Chala:Rivers Lumi,Mara,Umba,Ewaso Ngiro South and Kilimanjaro aquifer between Kenya and Tanzania

• Lake Turkana, River Omo Basin between Kenya and Ethiopia

• Mara river basin between Kenya and Tanzania

• Rivers Sio, Malaba, Lwakhaha,Suam and Malakisi basin between Kenya and Uganda

• The  Merti aquifer in north eastern part of Kenya extending into Somalia has also important trans-boundary relevance

• River Daua which Kenya shares with Ethiopia and Kenya

Rainfall is unevenly distributed and varies from one year to another. Some regions receive between 1500mm to excess of 3000mm of rainfall while arid lands receive less. These variations determine the patterns of drought over these regions.

Kenya is experiencing rapid population growth, from 5.4 million in 1948 to an estimated 38milion in 2008. With an estimated growth rate of 3%, the population is projected to be about 60 million by 2030. This is expected to lead to even greater stress on water and other natural resources in all areas.

In 1992, the per capita fresh water supply in Kenya was estimated at only 647m3 per capita, based on an estimated average annual water availability of 20.2 billion m. the per capita storage of surface water declined from 11.4m3 per capita per annum in 1969 to 4.3m3 per annum in 1999. Unless stringent measures are taken, it is projected that by the end of 2010, the renewable freshwater supply would have fallen to only just over 500m3 per capita per annum, and by 2020, to 235m3. This is far below the international standards of 1000m3 per capita.

The Lake Victoria Basin presents a water resource of high strategic and economic importance to the country. The Basin supports about 50% of Kenya’s population and has over 50% of the country’s water resources inducement. Furthermore, although the Nile Basin portion in Kenya forms only about 8 percent of the national area, it is more significant in terms of water resources as much of the country has low rainfall.


The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, serves as NBI’s focal point ministry and its Minister is a member of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM).  Kenya is represented on the Nile-TAC by the Permanent Secretary and the Head of Trans-boundary Waters respectively.

To facilitate in-country coordination of NBI’s activities, Kenya established a focal point institution within the National NBI Office whose specific role includes: provide a forum for in-country coordination of NBI’s projects and activities; assist with promoting coordination and integration with other relevant national activities and initiatives as well as logistical arrangements for incoming NBI missions.

The country contributes US$ 50,000 annually towards NBI’s operational costs. This is in addition to providing counterpart funds for all investment projects, as well as hosting and meeting all local costs for Projects Management Units based in Kenya. These include the Efficient Water Use for Agricultural Production (EWAUP) Project, from July 2005 to June 2009 and the ongoing Sio-Malaba–Malakisi Trans-boundary Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project located in Kakamega.

Also worth noting is the in-kind contribution to NBI in terms of supervision and technical guidance by Nile-TAC members, staff time by national staff attending specialized meetings on NBI issues organized at national level, hosting incoming NBI missions and offering office space for Project Management Units based in the country.

Furthermore, staff time through either secondment or direct hire of coordinators based on relevant sector institutions is increasingly being devoted to NBI’s different programs and projects.


Kenya is implementing both NBI’s basin-wide capacity building projects and sub-regional investment projects. The projects are identified and prepared through a participatory process.


Rwanda successfully participated in the implementation of the largely completed basin-wide capacity building projects.  The on-going Water Resources Planning and Management (WRPM) project is developing the necessary basin-wide management tools and building capacity for best practices. The Regional Power Trade (RPT) project is building capacity for power trade and development through preparation of the Comprehensive Basin Wide assessment of power options in the Nile Basin.


These projects fall under the Water Resources Development function of NBI. The portfolio of investment projects is categorized into three sectors: Power, Agriculture, and River Basin Management. This represents the priority needs of member countries – for increased access to reliable and cheap electricity, for increased food security and productivity and for increased protection and management of the environment as a basis for livelihoods of the basin populations. Projects active in Rwanda are spearheaded, prepared and coordinated by NBI’s Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) Coordination Unit based in Kigali, Rwanda. Project implementation is undertaken at national level.



Regional Transmission Interconnection Project

Over 769 km of 220 kV and 110 kV transmission lines and associated sub-stations to be constructed, to interconnect electric grids.

This will improve access to electricity through increased cross-border sharing of energy and power. The National Project Implementation Unit is located at NELSAP-CU offices. Overall, the project consists of three Components as follows:

i.) 220 KV Uganda (Bujagali) – Kenya (Lessos) interconnection (256 km);

ii.) 220 KV Uganda (Mbarara) – Rwanda (Kigali) interconnection (172 km);

iii.) Rwanda - Burundi - DRC (Eastern part) (R-B-C) Interconnections:

     a) Ruzizi - Bujumbura (112 km) to Kiliba (19 km)

     b) Ruzizi - Goma (150 km)

     c) Kibuye - Gisenyi-Goma-Kigali about 200 km

     d) 110 KV Rwanda (Kigoma) – Burundi (Rwegura) about 120km.

The Kenya-Tanzania Interconnection Project

The transmission line will run from Nairobi (Isinya substation) in Kenya to Arusha (Singida substation) in Tanzania. Currently there is no interconnection between the electricity grids of the two countries. The project will contribute to the reduction of transmission losses, Industrial growth, revenue gains and economic growth.


Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity Project

This project will carry out studies that will highlight potential agriculture and agricultural trade opportunities in the Nile basin countries and beyond. It will also increase knowledge of basin agriculture in NBI institutions as well as promote more efficient and sustainable use of water resources and economically viable investment in agriculture

River Basin Management

 Sio-Malaba-Malakisi River Basin Management Project 

The project will establish a sustainable framework for the joint management of the water resources of the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi sub-basin; in order to prepare for sustainable development oriented investments to improve the living conditions of the people and to protect the environment. It is operational in nine districts of Bungoma East, Bungoma North, Bungoma South and Bungoma West,Busia, Mt. Elgon, Teso North, Teso South and Samia. The Project Management Unit is located in Kakamega.

 Mara River Basin Management Project 

The project is contributing to improved living conditions of the basin communities by creating an enabling environment for sustainable development oriented investments and building capacity of staff and communities in Integrated Water Resource Management and development. The project is operational in six districts of Molo, Narok South, Chepalungu, and Transmara East and West.


Through its three core functions of: Building cooperation, Water Resource Managementand Water Resource Development, NBI provides Rwanda with:

Building Cooperation

• A platform upon which the Nile Council of Ministers can dialogue on management and development of the shared water resources of the Nile

• A forum for technical exchange of ideas and experiences within water resources, natural resource management, power generation and trade

• Capacity building activities aimed at strengthening the ability of both people and institutions in different water related areas

Water Resource Management

• A mechanism for basin wide exchange of information and prior notification for water resources development

• State-of-the-art technical tools for organizing, storing, analyzing and disseminating data and information collected by NBI programs and projects, including computer based databases with information such as discharge data for sub-basins and watershed, GIS information, biodiversity inventories, stakeholder inventories. The Nile Decision Support System (DSS) tool to facilitate strategic based wide planning and knowledge based policy and decision making. Also interactive CDs and web-based inventories such as the Nile-Information System (Nile-IS).

• Technical support in strengthening national water policy frameworks with a key focus on strengthening the consideration of the trans-boundary dimension.

• Knowledge on the basin’s water resources and monitoring of the basin’s health

• Analysis and scenarios development for sustainable resource management and for planning to maximize development opportunities at basin, sub basin and national levels

• Analytic tools and a shared information system that will enable monitoring and the sustainable management of the basin

• Better understanding and cooperative management of risk for a changing and uncertain climate

Water Resource Development

• Identification of development opportunities focused on power trade and generation, agriculture and river basin management

• Preparation of investment projects which contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction

• Assessing costs and benefits of participation in proposed projects and facilitate agreements on how to share costs and benefits with other beneficiary country.

• Projects implementation support including resource mobilization and preparation of multi-country agreements

• Technical assistance, know-how and expertise in project supervision


Early benefits

• Ability to share and exchange water resource data with the rest of the NBI member countries, following the adoption of the formal protocol developed under NBI. The interim procedures were adopted by the Nile-COM in July 2009.

• Use of the Decision Support System (DSS), a Basin-wide planning tool which enables decision makers to select the optimum investment planning options and best water resources management practices at national and regional levels.

• Increased human capacity including Post Graduate training for five Kanyans in Integrated Water Resource Management.

• A trans-boundary wetlands management plan was developed for the sio-siteko wetlands along the Kenya – Uganda border and is under implementation.

• Multi purpose dam water storage facilities like the Maira dam.

• Communities have benefited from various small scale projects. For example, 10,000 residents in Bomet town supplied with clean water following construction of the Bomet water supply providing 1,200m3/day and additional storage tank with capacity of 100m3 benefiting; clean and safe water supplied to over 10,000 people through the Angurai Water and Sanitation project in Teso district; as well as enhanced pollution control and solid waste management in Malaba Town, benefiting 500,000 town dwellers.

• Provision of hydromet equipment installed in hydro meteorological monitoring stations along Mara River.

• Trans-boundary policy frameworks, policies, guidelines, data and information base for water resources management.

• Currently hosting the Project Management Unit of the Sio-Malaba–Malakisi Trans-boundary Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project located in Kakamega and earlier the Project Management Unit of one of the basin-wide SVP projects, the Efficient Water use for Agricultural Production’ project, from July 2005 to June 2009.

Future Benefits

• Institutional Framework for trans-boundary Sustainable Joint Management of the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi sub-basin, enhancing cooperation between Kenya and Uganda as well as resulting into improved cross border trade between water user stakeholder groups.

• Framework for trans-boundary Sustainable Joint Management of the Mara River sub-basin, enhancing cooperation with Tanzania.

• Increased and stable power supply through the Regional Transmission Interconnection project and the Kenya-Tanzania Interconnection Project leading to economic growth and better quality of life.

• Increased food security and productivity.

Indirect benefits

• Ability to overcome associated impacts of climate change that are mostly manifesting through the hydrological cycle. These include floods and droughts that lead to serious water scarcity and food shortage.

• Enhanced Regional cooperation, peace, security and political stability, hence economic growth.

• The annual Nile Basin Football Tournament.

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