Benson Lemara

Program Director &

Community Partner

Friends of Maasai Forest

Integrated Water Resources Management and Development  Programme for Resilience in the Water Towers.

Philanthropy and Impact Investment Case Study


Marsabit is a dry and semi-arid area with a total landmass of 70,961 Km2.

The average rainfall ranges between 700mm in the water towers to 500mm in the transition areas and to below 300mm in the deserts, hence it is classified as a water-scarce county. Within this dry, parched, semi-arid area there are five water towers. These water towers are reservoirs or storage tanks,  mounted on tower structures, at the summit of high ground where the water pressure would otherwise be inadequate for distribution at a uniform pressure. These water towers are designed to provide adequate distribution of essential water and forest resources. The water towers are namely Mt Marsabit, Mt Kulal, Ndotto ranges (Ngurunit) and Hurri Hills and some parts of Sololo hills. There is only one gazetted forest (Mt Marsabit). It is located in an agro-ecological zone IV, a land defined in terms of climate, landform and soils, and/or land cover, with a specific range of potentials and constraints for land use (FAO). The average vegetation cover of Marsabit stands at about 1.2% against 10% national standard cover mainly woodland across the county.

Recurrent, cyclic droughts occurring after every 2-to-3 years have resulted in water scarcity, water pollution, and water-borne diseases. Drought also results in loss of vegetation cover creating a loss of pasture, death of livestock as well as the loss of livelihoods.

Due to water scarcity, livestock watering is given first priority compared to essential domestic water use. The desired result should be enough water for all including water use for domestic purposes, livestock, agriculture, wildlife, and the environment.


The environmental management of water and access to water are poor due to low rainfall. In the target areas, the catchment has degraded. In the case of Ngurunit and Hurri hills, there is no vegetation cover. Mt Kulal has a forest with a lot of encroachment and is not protected. In Ngurunit poor catchment management has resorted to flooding threats. In Hurri hills, there is a high level of water scarcity and in Mt Kulal, water is available but there is a threat of depletion and pollution. Agriculture is being carried out in areas around Mt Marsabit and Mt Kulal, undertaking small scale farming of beans, maize, and kales but the destruction of these water towers will lead to water shortage hence food scarcity.



The Improvement of environmental management of water resources in the three water towers will lead to sufficient water supply. The ecological area of the three identified areas is mainly associated with low rainfall. Poor management of the catchment had lead to water shortage. Community involvement in catchment protection will improve water availability. Applying the 3Rs (Retention, Recharge, and Reuse) a holistic approach to the management of the catchment areas will increase water availability and conserve the catchment. This will improve the recharge at the boreholes and reduce overdependence on the catchment areas, for instance, tree planting, construction of check dams along rivers, flood control measures among other measures will improve the hydrological cycles of these areas hence increasing water availability and quality.


Communities around and in the water towers are target beneficiaries. The project will also target specific beneficiaries in relation to specific project activities.

Project Goal: To promote Integrated Water Resource Management in Mt. Kulal, Ngurunit hills, and Hurri Hills.

Overall Objective: To Increase community capacity on water catchment conservation, utilization of Natural Resource and Improve Natural Resources Governance.

Specific Objective:

  1. To increase community capacity on water catchment conservation

  2. To improve water catchment protection Governance

  3. To enhance the capacity of communities on the utilization of forest products





The scope of the project will cover integrated water and catchment management strategy in the catchments/water towers namely Ngurnit, Mt Kulal, and Hurri Hills. The above will be achieved through, baseline surveys for better analysis and better scoping, formation and training of 3R committees, and other sub-activities such as beekeeping, planting grasses on flood flow areas, nursery establishment and promotion of woodlots.

The group will be capacity built on all management aspects, leading to proposals on the establishment of tree nurseries, afforestation, construction of water harvesting structures, soil erosion and establishment of natural regeneration plots within their private farms. Documenting of indigenous knowledge, and promoting harvesting and marketing of Gums and resins, will go a long way in improving the livelihood of the target groups. This will also offer alternative livelihood a departure from Livestock. Harmonization of the many actors in natural resources management to form one group will enhance decision making simpler and from one informed base.

For further information, presentation or discussion about the investment opportunities in the Integrated Water Resources Management and Development  Programme for Resilience in the Water Towers, please join our investment forum.


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