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Fairer Sharing of Rivers Helps Keep Peace in Kenya

Kelena Ole Nchoe hopes efforts to share river water in the Ewaso Nyiro South basin in Kenya's Rift Valley will help avoid the violence that has erupted elsewhere between herders and farmers as a drought crisis shrinks pasture. But he is sure there will be competition for water in the near future.

Ole Nchoe is the chair of 12 associations for water users along the Enkare Narok tributary, south of Nairobi, which strive to use the scarce resource wisely, complementing the work of nine groups on the main Ewaso Nyiro River. Together they cover a 188-km (117-mile) stretch that flows into Lake Natron near the Kenya-Tanzania border.

On each river, there is a centre that trains and supports the associations' members, hosting private and community farms and carrying out water conservation activities.

Ole Nchoe said the centres advise farmers not to cultivate crops near the river but to plant trees along its banks instead. This helps prevent soil erosion that will eventually block the river with sediment and alter its course, inconveniencing people downstream.

Brad Bell

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