By Coast Times Correspondent
Reviving the dilapidated 111 years old Kighombo dam may be the only solution to solving water problems in Kighombo, Mkwachunyi, and Ikanga villages within Voi Sub County.
According to residents in the area the county government should focus on the rehabilitation of the dam that started drying up in 1963 after its construction in 1912 by East Africa Railways Corporation as part of efforts to harvest rain water in the region.
The dam was used to provide water for steam engines used in locomotives and it served thousands of people and livestock.
Locals say that rehabilitation of the dam will boost water harvesting especially during the anticipated short rains for use during drought season.
“Adverse effects of climate change are being felt in the rural villages with the majority of farmers losing their livestock and crops to drought,” said Nathan Mwawaka, one of the farmers in the area.
He said that locals have encountered losses due to lack of rains with cattle dying every drought season.
According to Mwawaka most of them depend on farming to earn a living and take their children to school but the effects of climate change are hitting them harder.
When it was in use, the dam served over seven villages with water being piped to as far as Bachuma and Mackinnon Road areas at the boundary of Kwale and Taita-Taveta County.
Rehabilitation of the historical dam, he said, will boost efforts by the government to harvest water in the region.
The degradation of Mbololo and Mwambirwa forest has also contributed to the death of the iconic dam as the streams that feed the dam dried up.
Linet Mnjala, a resident of Mwakiki village, noted that residents are forced to walk a long distance to fetch water from the remaining water sources after the collapse of the dam.
“Vandalism of fences, pipes and taps from the dam have contributed to the death of the dam. The dam was well guarded day and night with people coming from as far as Mkwachunyi to fetch water but that is not there anymore, “added Mnjala.
Water Resources User Association official Zaccheus Maghanga, said that the county government of Taita has a role to play by conducting a feasibility study on the ability of the dam to store storm drain waters which can then be pumped into deserving villages through solar powered pumps.
“A feasibility study can determine the ability of the dam to hold water and act as a reservoir when it rains,” he said.
According to the 2022/23 county budget, the Water, Environment and Sanitation docket has a development budget of Sh 69 million after the County Assembly slashed the original budget by over Sh 129 million.