Construction of Mwache Multipurpose Dam in Kenya set to commence

Kenya's Permanent Secretary (PS) for Water, Joseph Irungu, announced that construction works on the Mwache Dam project in Kwale County is now set to commence after a long delay due to land compensation disputes.

By Chriselle Moraes on
7th March 2022

The Mwache Dam is being developed by Kenya's Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, and is a flagship project under the country's Vision 2030 development plan.

The multipurpose dam will provide water supply for home and industrial use, as well as irrigation for farming. The Mwache Dam will have the capacity to supply 186,000m3 of water daily to residents of Kwale and Mombasa counties. On completion, the dam is also expected to irrigate up to 2,600 hectares of land in Kwale County.

The dam site is located on the Mwache River in Kwale County, about 22 kilometres west of Mombasa. The dam structure will be an 87.5 metres high Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) gravity dam. The dam's water reservoir will have a storage capacity of 118 million m3, and will occupy a land size of 250,000 hectares. 

The Mwache Dam project will involve displacement of approximately 12,000 persons whose assets and livelihoods, as well as access to natural or economic resources, may be affected as a result of the construction of the dam.

Commencement of the project has been delayed for several years due to disputes related to the land acquisition and compensation exercise. In January this year (2022), the government announced that compensation issues between landowners and the government have now been fully resolved – setting the stage for commencement of the long-delayed construction works.

“The project is on course; at least 75% of the residents have been compensated. The government is moving with speed to finalize the compensation process,” said Water, Sanitation and Irrigation PS Joseph Irungu.

Other issues reported to have delayed the project include the relocation of pipelines and the re-routing of roads from the site.

The Mwache Dam was designed by Nippon Koei Consulting Engineers Ltd of Japan, Kenyan Engineering firm, Mangat I.B. Patel (MIBP) Ltd, and AF Consult of Switzerland. Dr. M.R.H. Dunstan of Malcolm Dunstan & Associates (MDA) in U.K. was RCC dam advisor.

The cost of the project is estimated to be US$176 million. Construction works is expected to be completed in 40 months. 

The Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation is the overall implementing agency for the project, while the Coast Development Authority (CDA) is the executing agency for the rehabilitation works.

CDA has completed rehabilitation works around the project site ahead of the project launch. The rehabilitation activities undertaken by CDA included tree planting, terracing, contour ploughing, rock terracing, gabion construction and riparian marking and pegging.

Benefits

The dam will harness the floodwaters from the Mwache River basin in Kinango Sub County. The land conservation measures undertaken for the rehabilitation works will also help in preserving the top-soil within the Mwache drainage system.

The project is expected to offer a lasting solution to the water shortages facing residents of Kwale and Mombasa counties. The project will also increase the availability of irrigation water for farmers, and build capacity for food security and climate resilience in Kenya.

Top Photo: Mwache River near Chinguluni Village, Kenya (Mwache Multipurpose Dam | Facebook Page)

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