Map of Kenya with Tana River Indicated

Map of Kenya with Tana River Indicated

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Map of Kenya with Tana River Indicated - History

Bedford Biofuels Ltd proposed to establish Jatropha plantations on 6 ranches in Tana Delta on 64,000 ha. Phase one would commence on 10,000 ha in Kitangale ranch phase 2 would take a further 30,000 ha in 4 other ranches, while phase 3 would add another 24,000 ha.

Nature Kenya, EAWLS, and partner organisations were against the project on the basis that a land use plan of Tana Delta was non-existent recent research suggests that under dry conditions Jatropha will not produce sufficient seeds or oil to make plantations economically viable and advise against Jatropha plantations, except as fences/hedges wildlife corridors indicated in the EIA are insufficient and some of the ranches hold wetlands critical for migratory birds from outside Africa On 6 May 2011, NEMA granted the developer a licence for the 1st phase of 10,000ha as pilot for 2 years to enable NEMA to make a final decision on the other phases.

The Compliance Director who approved the project was later suspended as he had irregularly granted the licence in spite of mounting scientific evidence about jatropha not being viable. Environmentalists wondered how a 10,000 ha project could be considered a pilot.

In response, NK and EAWLS filed a petition on 20th July at the National Environment Tribunal challenging the issuance of the licence. They later pulled out to enable the Minister of Environment to revoke the licence as they would not have proceeded with a case pending in court.

Threats of violence were reported, with NK staff in Tana and a local Kadhi Registrar threatened with death threats for questioning the project. Jatropha growing started end of 2011 through 2012. In June 2013, Bedford Biofuels pulled out of its Jatropha biofuel plantation project giving reasons that the political and economic situation was not good for business and closed down operations in Kenya.

Name of conflict:Bedford Biofuels Jatropha, Tana Delta, Kenya
State or province:Coast Province
Location of conflict:Tana Delta District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Ethanol
Carbon offsets

Bedford Biofuels (Tana Delta) Limited, has negotiated sub-leases from six ranches to grow Jatropha, investing around USD 68,730,625. NEMA has approved the first phase in Kintangale Ranch, which plans to cultivate Jatropha on 10,000 ha at a total budget of USD 12,355,000. The project involves the following stages: Initial clearing and ground modification and construction of associated infrastructure Growing Jatropha seedlings in a temporary nursery for manual planting Management and operation of the plantation areas including harvesting and Enhancements of the management of non-plantation areas in the ranch Bedford claims to commit USD $3,600,000 to the EMPOWER programme to fund community development projects, even though other previous projects have promised heaven but delivered little and at a cost on environment.

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project suspended. The Office of the Prime Minister, with funding from UK Aid, has set up a committee, with about 20 government representatives, to facilitate preparation of a strategic plan and strategic environmental assessment for the Delta. This would allow for development of sustainable livelihoods for the people while safeguarding the environment upon which the local economy depends.
Development of alternatives:1. Nature Kenya is working with local communitiespastoralists, farmers, fishermen and conservation groups in order to take action against the proposed developments in the Tana River Delta and to take forward positive proposals to enhance livelihoods.
2.Develop appropriate guidance on sustainable biofuel production before any commercial biofuel projects are approved.
3.Carry out a cost-benefit analysis to assess whether growing a biofuel crop carries an energy cost as well as environmental and social costs.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:NEMA granted the developer the licence even though scientific evidence pointed out to Jatropha plantations not being viable and there were concerns that 10,000 ha size was too huge to be pilot. However, the company has now pulled out and the project is stopped.

Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, 2010 Forests Act, 2005 Forest Policy Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act of 1976 Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) of 1999 Environmental PolicyWater Act, 2002 Water Policy (National Policy on Water Resources Management) The Agriculture Act, Cap 318 The Local Government Act, Cap 265

Sustainable biofuels: prospects and challenges, Royal Society, 14th January 2008.
[click to view]

Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt, Joseph Fargione et al, February 2008.
[click to view]

Other Major Rivers and Environmental Concerns

The largest river to pass into Kenya, the Nile River, stretches through a total of 4,258 miles in 11 countries. Some of the other major rivers in the country are the Dawa at 280 miles and shared with Somalia, the Turkwel at 211 miles and shared with Uganda, and the Nzoia River at 160 miles. Kenya’s rivers play an important economic and ecological role, and concerns such as pollution and deforestation need to be adequately addressed to ensure the rivers’ sustainability.

Where is Kenya?

Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa. It is located in the Eastern Hemisphere. The Equator passes through the country. Five countries border Kenya. These are Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Somalia to the north, northwest, west, south, and east respectively. Kenya has a coastline on the Indian Ocean to the southeast.

Regional Maps: Map of Africa

Tana River (Kenya)

The ca. 1000 km long Tana River is the longest river in Kenya, and gives its name to the Tana River County. [1] Its catchment covers ca. 100,000 km² and can be divided into the headwaters and the lower Tana consisting of the section downstream of Kora where the river flows for ca. 700 km through semi-arid plains. [2] Its tributaries include the Thika, Ragati River from Mt.Kenya as well as several smaller rivers that flow only during the rainy season. The river rises in the Aberdare Mountains to the west of Nyeri. Initially it runs east before turning south around the massif of Mount Kenya. A series of hydroelectric dams (the Seven Forks Hydro Stations or the Seven Forks Scheme) has been constructed along the river. These include (in order of cascading) the Masinga Dam (commissioned in 1981 with an installed capacity of 40MW), the Kamburu Dam (1974, 94.20MW), the Gitaru Dam (1978, 225.25MW), the Kindaruma Dam (1968, 72MW) and the Kiambere Dam (1988, 168MW). [3] [4] en [5] [6] The Masinga Reservoir and the Kiambere Reservoir, created by the Masinga and Kiambere dams respectively, serve a dual purpose: hydro-electric power (HEP) generation and agricultural irrigation. The other three are used exclusively for HEP generation. A 2003 study reported that two-thirds of Kenya's electrical needs were supplied by the series of dams along the Tana River. Many people believe this river has groundwater underneath it, but it doesn't. [7] The electricity is then supplied to the national grid system and distributed countrywide through a series of substations, transformers and cables. [8]

Below the dams, the river turns north and flows along the north-south boundary between the Meru and North Kitui and Bisanadi, Kora and Rabole National Reserves. In the reserves the river turns east, and then south east. It passes through the towns of Garissa, Hola and Garsen before entering the Indian Ocean at the Ungwana Bay-Kipini area, at the end of a river delta that reaches roughly 30 km upstream from the river mouth itself.<ref-name=Nakaegawa2012/> It runs through a semi-arid area and irrigates the surrounding land.

Annual flow is above 5,000 million cubic meters (MCM) on average, but varies substantially both within and across years, and includes two flood seasons each year Between 1944 and 1978, average total flow (at Garissa) was 6,105 MCM, varying from only 1,789 MCM in 1949 to 13,342 MCM in 1968. [9] During the 1982-1996 period, annual flow remained above 5,000 MCM as well. [10] Water is drawn from the river by the following major irrigation projects: Bura Irrigation and Settlement Project, Tana Irrigation Scheme and the Tana Delta Irrigation Project. [11]

The Gusii

The Gusii who call themselves �gusii” are a small Bantu tribe who occupy the most south-west portion of the cool fertile Western section of the Kenya Highlands. Between them and Lake Victoria is the Nilotic Luo. To the East and South-East, they are bordered by the Kipsigis and the Maasai. To the south, though separated by a corridor of Luo, are the closely related “Tende,” who call themselves �kuria.”

The traditions of the Gusii people as stated by William Robert Ochieng indicate that in the distant past they were the same people as the Kuria, the Logoli, the Suba, the Bukusu (Kitosh), the Kikuyu, the Meru, the Embu, and the Kamba. They further state that on their way south, from a country which they identify as “Misiri,” they were together with the Ganda and the Soga. The Ganda and Soga are said to have branched off from the rest of the migrants around Mount Elgon, in a south-westerly direction.

The kikuyu, Meru, Embu, and Kamba are said to have travelled East into what is now the central Highlands of Kenya, while the Bukusu appear to have remained around Mount Elgon. The remaining cluster the Gusii, Kuria, Suba, and Logoli are said to have migrated southwards and following the course of River Nzoia arrived on the Eastern shores of Lake Victoria, some fifteen to sixteen generations ago, presumably sometime around A.D 1560. Turning east they travelled along the lakeshore and eventually they erected their settlement around Goye in Yimbo location, and from Goye their homesteads appear to have stretched across present day Urima, Ulowa, Sare and Ramogi. It was in this general area that the first wave of Luo immigrants into west Kenya found them.

The Gusii themselves speak of Mogusii as the founder of their society and the person after whom their tribe was named. They also say that Mogusii’s father was called Osogo, son of Moluguhia, son of Kigoma, son of Ribiaka, who was son of Kintu. It was Kintu they say who led the migration from “Misiri” to Mount Elgon, and there they appear to have stayed for about three to four generations, before they finally dispersed.

Gusii traditions also indicate that Molughia, the grandfather of Mogusii, had a number of sons who founded the various Baluyia sub-tribes or clans, and that among his remembered sons were Osogo and Mogikoyo. Osogo’s descendants are said to have founded the Gusii, Kuria, Logoli and several suba tribes, while the descendants of Mogikoyo became the Kikuyu, the Meru, and the Embu tribes and according to a few elders the Kamba tribes as well.

Citation: William Robert Ochieng (1974). A Pre-colonial History of the Gusii of Western Kenya (A.D. 1500-1914.). East African Literature Bureau. Nairobi.

Discover Tana River County

Spatial Location of Tana River County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Tana River County

From its pitch in the Aberdare Mountain Range to its end-of-the-line at Tana River Delta, draining into the Indian Ocean, Tana River streams for almost 850 kms making it the longest river within Kenya, and its importance for generating hydro-electric power and sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people along the Tana River Basin are clearly and inextricably linked. From the Aberdares, Tana River flows east, north, east again before it commences on the lengthy 500 kms southerly course lining the entire northern and western franks of Tana River County – a title that answers to the superlative presence of this mighty river. Tana River County is dominated by a complex ecosystem running from spectral canopy coastal forests, riverine strips, wooded bushland, thickets with grassland plains and mangrove fens. By far, the most striking ecologies in Tana River County are River Tana Delta and its little-travelled 72 kms coastline.

Besides Tana River, there are several small rivers, more proper laghas, flowing in a west-east direction from Kitui and Makueni Counties all draining into Tana River. Even so, Tana River County is a predominantly arid area with little land use. The Pokomo, notable as the largest ethnic community, survive on exiguous subsistence tillage along the Tana insomuch as the minority Orma and Wardei Tribes are pastoralists, habitually on the move in search of pasture for livestock. The pastoral communities make up about 14% of the population. Poverty levels stand at 77% making Tana River County the 5th poorest County of Kenya. There are seven large ranches in the County – Wachu (307 km2), Kibusu (250 km2), Haganda (120 km2), Kitangale (200 km2), Idasa Godana (510 km2), Giritu (433 km2) and Kondertu (200 km2) – and out of the seven ranches only Idasa Godana Ranch can be said to be active, with about 10% of its acreage put to use.

The principal line of communication in Tana River County is the B8 Malindi-Garissa Road, through Garsen and Hola (Bura), that’s oriented north-south and running just 30 kms outside the eastern boundary for 347 kms from Malindi to Garissa. The second road, a bit more engaged, connects the B8 Malindi-Garissa Road with the A3 Thika-Liboi Road at Garissa, and this travels east to west for about 70 kms in the northern area of the County through Bangali. Owing to the comparatively low rainfall and to the indigenous practice of overgrazing, with both cattle and goats, the vegetation profile over much of Tana River County is mainly of the thick thorn-bush type with restricted grass, excepting the riverine areas along Tana River marked by an abundance of greenery and woodlands. The ground slopes away southwards with few low hills. Tana River is one of six counties in the Coast Region. It borders Isiolo County (north), Garissa County (east), Lamu County (southeast), Kilifi County (south), and Kitui County (west).

Aerial view of the River Tana Delta. Image Courtesy of David Beatty

Salient Features of Tana River County

  • County Number 04
  • Area – 38,862 km2
  • Altitude – 6200 ft
  • Major Towns – Hola, Madogo, Galole, Bura
  • Borders – Kitui, Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Kilifi

Brief History of Tana River County

Although Tana River County is a sparsely populated region, it has a long saga of tribal conflicts. Other setbacks that have transposed Tana River County beyond local solutions include: its economic and political marginalization, its long and involved resistance to assimilation, its resource depletion, lagging demographic changes, its climatic conditions, its cattle rustling and small arms proliferation, and the adverse government policies. Tribal conflict in Tana River County dates back to the 17th century when different communities started settling along the banks of River Tana – in particular the communities from Ethiopia and Somali.

The Hola Massacre Monument at Hola. Image Courtesy of WikiWand

Tana River District

The 440-mile Tana River is the longest river in Kenya, and gives its name to the Tana River District. The river rises in the Aberdare Mountains to the west of Nyeri. Initially it runs east before turning south round the Mount Kenya massif. The river then turns into the Masinga and Kiambere Reservoirs created by the Kindaruma dams. Below the dam the river turns north and flows the north-south boundary between the Meru and North Kitui and Bisanadi, Kora and Rabole National Reserves. In the reserves the river turns east, and then south east. It passes through the towns of Garissa, Hola and Garsen before entering the Indian Ocean at Ungwana Bay.



Drought Situation & EW Phase Classification

The County received some rainfall during the Month under review.

The vegetation condition Index (VCI-3Month) was showing an increase of 10percent compared to previous month.

The VCI indicated normal vegetation greenness. However the overall drought phase in the county was at Normal in December.

Forage condition was good across all livelihoods zones during the month.

Socio Economic Indicators

All livestock species exhibited good body condition.

Crops were at harvesting stage in all livelihood zones.

Milk production decreased and is below the LTA compared to previous month of November.

Terms of trade were favorable to crop farmers than livestock herders in mixed and pastoral livelihood zones respectively.

Water access for both human and livestock was good and decreased in all the livelihood zones.

Milk consumption reduced and is higher than the long term Average.

The proportion of children at risk of malnutrition cases decreased and above the normal range as indicated by percent of mid upper arm Circumference (MUAC).

The average coping strategy insignificant decreased compared to previous month.



Drought Situation & EW Phase Classification

Biophysical Indicators

&bull The County received below average seasonal rainfall in May. &bull The vegetation condition Index (VCI-3Month) was showing significant decrease of 4percent compared to previous month. &bull The VCI indicated above normal vegetation greenness. The overall drought phase in the county was at Normal in May. &bull Forage condition was fair to good across all livelihoods zones during the month.

Socio Economic Indicators

Production indicators

&bull All livestock species exhibited fair to good body condition. &bull Crops farmers were at different level of stages, some knee high and others germination stage in all livelihood zones. &bull Milk production increased and is below the LTA compared to previous month of April.

Access indicators

&bull Terms of trade were favorable to crop farmers than livestock herders in mixed and pastoral livelihood zones respectively. &bull Water access for both human and livestock was good to fair respectively depending on the water sources in the zone. &bull Milk consumption decreased and is lower than the long term Average. Utilization indicators &bull The proportion of children at risk of malnutrition cases slightly decreased and above the normal range as indicated by the percentage of mid upper arm Circumference (MUAC). &bull The average coping strategy increased by 9.4 percent when compared to previous month of April.

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