Ms. Grace Kuria a coffee and tea farmer. She is also the chairlady of the Thika Mid Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) under the IFAD Project: Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resource Management Project (UTaNRMP). A WRUA is a locally based institution made up of an association of water resource users, riparian land owners and other stakeholders who are formally and voluntarily associated for the purposes of cooperatively sharing a common water resource.
WRUAs contribute to hydrological knowledge for decision-making processes along catchment areas. The role of WRUAs has changed rapidly as we are no longer restricted to just resolving conflicts and fostering cooperation between water users like in the past. We now have an additional responsibility of collecting hydrological data within our respective sub-catchments. We have been trained on how to collect data such as reading rain gauges, measuring stream flows, turbidity and sediment loads. We then share the data collected to the relevant government authorities for validation and interpretation and the information derived from this process is used to formulate important strategies such as water allocation plans.
Thika Mid WRUA was started in 2013 through the initiative of the Water Resource Management Authority (WARMA). Stakeholders were invited to discuss ways in which water resource management could be managed in the area. She was chosen as chairperson as she has been interested in water issu
es and was active in community issues with minimal benefits.
The WRUAs key activities include:
• Riparian conservation and protection
• Baseline survey
• Abstraction survey
• Enforcement compliance
• Final reporting
Grace has been able to mobilize the community from the UTaNRMP project when there are calls for proposals for their livelihood activities. He offers training on demand (On group dynamics women groups, creating awareness on legal capacity). He also trains members on financial management and budgeting and manage conflicts in the WRUA whenever the need arises. As a WRUA they procure seedlings from their communities for purposes of planting trees within riparian land and they engage the community in conservation. They have since gained knowledge on water conservation and improved on illegal obstruction of water. Tree cover has also improved.
The main objective of the riparian conservation is to empower the land owners on how to use the land with minimal pollution to the water source. The main method used in Thika WRUA is to encourage land owners to plant trees along the riparian land for agroforestry, planting of fodder crops along the river banks for livestock which also help reduce soil erosion by providing soil cover.
To achieve the above, the WRUA pegs the riparian land and holds the consultative meetings with the riparian land owners on the best farming practice to reduce land degradation.
INSTITUTIONAL FORMATION OF WATER RESOURCE USERS ASSOCIATIONS (WRUA):
WRA comes to the area and meets with the Chiefs and Assistant chiefs.
WRA explains about the sections of the water Act 2016 that deals with catchment management as well as WRUA formation.
Then after a lengthy discussion, another meeting is arranged, where the chiefs and Assistant Chiefs, by using SMSs, posters, announcements in churches, telephone calls, mobilizes the community and other stakeholders to turn up.
In this meeting, WRA in conjunction with the chiefs and Assistant chiefs draws an agenda for the meeting.
The participants are explained among other things the need to protect, conserve and manage the catchment.
WRA then explains the policies and guidelines formulated in relation to catchment management.
The Authority explains about how WRUA should be formed and their roles and responsibilities.
Thereafter, the participants are given opportunities to contribute to the deliberations including the possible area of operation of the WRUA.
The participants then nominate representatives with special consideration of gender balance, regional balance and also people with disabilities.
The nominated interim committee then elects an executive committee, which is then tasked with the drafting of WRUA’s constitution, By-laws, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The executive committee then tables the drafted documents for ratification by the management committee.
The documents are then adopted with or without amendments.
The final amended documents are then used by the executive committee to apply for registration at the Attorney General’s Office.
The certificate takes about 4 months to be issued by the registrar of societies.
Once the certificate is issued, then the WRUA becomes a legal entity that can transact business.