Murangâ€™a County is set to take advantage of its huge water resource to earn income and also drive its economy.
According to area governor Mwangi wa Iria, the county is endowed with huge rivers and dams, whose water is consumed in Kenyaâ€™s capital Nairobi, while the rest is used to produce hydro electricity.
Maragua and Mathioya rivers and their tributaries are among the many natural sources of water in the county, which remain exploited at the expense of residents.
There are also several hydro-electric power generating plants in the county, which use the river waters.
The governor singled out the huge Ndakaini Dam in Gatanga constituency, which churns out millions of litres of drinking water mostly for Nairobi and its environs.
He said that despite people outside the county enjoying the water, many residents in Murangâ€™a remained without piped water.
â€œUnfortunately, we are also known to be struggling in the provision of irrigation and safe drinking water to our people,â€ he says.
Help navigate the issue
His government would initiate discussions with various partners to ensure that the county gets a fair return for the water, which it supplies to neighbouring counties.
â€œTo this effect, we shall be engaging the House (County Assembly) to help navigate this issue,â€ he said.
The governor added that he would strive to rehabilitate a number of long neglected dams and water pans in lower Murangâ€™a and other areas and also look for means and ways of investing in new dams to meet domestic and irrigation water demand.
Mr Mwangi said irrigation water would be used in growing horticultural crops, noting that the county was very suitable for such ventures.
â€œKenya is among the top three horticultural exporters in the world, and our county is well known for production of high quality French beans and other horticultural crops for consumption in Europe and other international markets,â€ he said.
The governor said he would leverage irrigation projects along the many rivers in the county and focus on improved production.
He added that he would embark on plans to create negotiated contracts for farmers to take full advantage of the existing export opportunities and ensure small-scale farmers enjoy full value of their produce.
Although several farmers have initiated irrigation projects in some parts of Murangâ€™a with some even growing rice, the projects have remained underdeveloped due to lack of funds.
Plans by the county government to expand the projects would go a long way in uplifting living standards of living especially in the driers parts of lower Murangâ€™a.
In Nyeri, residents want more funds directed towards improving security.
They also want the county government to decongest Nyeri Town, which, they say, would affect investment if not checked.
The residents want security to be the first priority for the county government.
â€œAs we move to a 24-hour economy, more funds should be allocated to hiring more security personnel,â€ said a businessman Patrick Muguara during a forum on the county budget at the Nyeri native courts.
Mr Muguara said the County budget must be enough to cater for security to enable Nyeri town achieve the 24-hour programme.
Another resident, Mr Boniface Mathenge, said it was possible to hire more personnel if the resources were made available.
Mr Mathenge said the governor needed resources that will come from the â€œhavesâ€ and not â€œhave-notsâ€. â€œWe will have to cost-share to ensure the county has enough resources to cater for our development needs,â€ he said.
They urged the county government to first finalise all projects initiated earlier by the council before embarking on new projects.
The residents also cited poor road networks due to shoddy works and drainage systems in parts of the region and called for transparency and accountability in tender awards.
Ms Veronicah Wambui from Kihuyo Village said that due to a poor road network especially during the rainy season, they were making losses as farmers due to inaccessibility.
â€œWe are not able to deliver milk and other perishable goods in time because of poor road network and our products get spoilt along the way,â€ she said.
Ms Wambui also complained of human-wildlife conflict among residents living next to the Aberdares and Mt Kenya forests.
The business community raised concerns over lack of expansion space within the town. Mr Peter Ndirangu said expansion for the town must be done to accommodate the increasing number of investors and visitors showing interest in Nyeri.
He singled out road traffic, saying, Nyeri has been experiencing traffic congestion due to its narrow streets and roads. â€œParking in the central business area is very difficult and we want this problem solved quickly,â€ Mr Ndirangu said.