Submitted by guest blogger on Fri, 07/07/2017

Written by WISE UP Partners: Washington Ochola and Christine Omuombo, ACCESS

The ‘Africa rising’ dialogue has seen many countries in the continent change their developmental narratives to achieve middle-income status. Kenya is no exception to this having moved to a low middle-income nation, with hopes of a further rise to the upper middle-income status by 2030.  To achieve this status an increase on the demand for energy, water for irrigation and potable water as envisioned in the National Water Master plan 2030 details some of the foreseen development projects.

Under the WISE UP to climate project that looks at the water infrastructure investment portfolios, the African Collaborative Center for Earth System Sciences (ACCESS), gathered stakeholders from the national, regional and local levels to undertake an exploratory scenario development process for the Tana River basin. ACCESS organized and executed this workshop as both a capacity building and technical implementation event culmination from previous stakeholder engagement and tool development activities under various WISE-UP work packages. The workshop aimed to develop skills and competencies among participants in the design and use of basin scenarios by stakeholders to inform decision-making and planning for alternative future water infrastructure options under a changing climate.

The participants explored the essentials of shared visioning, basin developmental trajectories as detailed in the National Water Master Plan 2030 and investment sequencing. The exercise revealed sectoral interests that present a win –loose relationship for some of the key players within the basin and appreciation of the complexity in the shared management of water resource to meet conflicting demands from the mandates of the represented regional, local and community structures represented at this meeting.

This process was followed by the identification of the main drivers of water infrastructure change, which were identified as climate change, land use change, energy demands, industrialization, water governance, population dynamics, socio-cultural dynamics and technology. These drivers were unpacked by the stakeholders delving into the various components and tracing through their likely effects on water resources/infrastructure using emerging data and lessons drawn from the stakeholder’s actions.


Photo: A workshop participant mapping the impacts, major events and milestones for a Scenario in the Tana catchment.

In this exercise, the stakeholders provided answers to the three broad based questions below:

  • How do we integrate informed actions in basin water management using insights into the scope of the plausible actions and policies going into the future?

  • What is the role of human activities (natural infrastructure and major investments) in shaping the ecosystems services and the link among issues relating to water infrastructure under changing climate?

  • Are there existing and future creative solutions to water use challenges under climate change? What are the sets of interlinked drivers that may emerge for adaptive water resources management?

From this exercise the stakeholders came up with some opportunities that could be adopted within a shared vision framework for the management of the basin. These include:

  • Possible mechanisms for sustainable knowledge transfer and exchanges as a technique to increase the capacity of local communities, government agencies and international agencies.

  •  The need for co-management tools and approaches in policies to enhance the adoption of the traditional structures and the translation of scientific findings into a language understood by the different stakeholders

  • The possible co-management of ecosystem services due to their important economic value for the local communities, although this should be supported with better climate models and understanding the local impacts to the surrounding communities.

  • The availability of decision support tools, improved data collection and analysis techniques and community based mobile technologies could contribute to the successful uptake of tools and methods by government agencies, international communities, NGO’s and local communities.

Generally, the participants were able to appreciate the magnitude of the decisions taken across the basin and how it impacts on other actors in the basin. Interestingly, whereas the discussions on the scenarios were focused on water infrastructure, sustainable land management practices were seen as key to water governance issues raising a need for the stakeholders to share common approaches in tools and data to support integrated planning. This exercise was carried out by ACCESS to enable the stakeholders representing the various institutions and communities learn that in order to make informed strategic decisions, we must try to anticipate what lies ahead and grasp ongoing, emerging and latent water infrastructure and other developments in the basin.

Plans are underway at ACCESS to design and deliver a follow-up workshop that explores the testing of the trade offs negotiation through emerging WISE UP results. This follow up workshop will enable the participants to provide a conceptual lens that would focus on strategic responses to challenges in the future scenarios.


Washington Ochola – is a capacity building expert at ACCESS. He is currently Regional Policy and Capacity Building Advisor to USAID-Africa Lead Program for East and Southern Africa. He is a lead consultant in environmental and sustainable development scenarios and policy analysis.

Christine Omuombo – is a project officer at ACCESS under the WISE UP to climate project. She is an environmental scientist interested in water resources and human impact on the past and present landscapes.   


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