By Annah Gilbert Mwikali

1.1 The study

Mkanda dam is located in Kibuyuni village, Mangawani location, Kubo division,
which is in Matuga constituency of Kwale County. More specifically, it is located at
the source of river Mkanda. The indigenous people here are largely the Duruma
and Digo with some minority from the Kamba and Kikuyu community. Many of
the farmers in the area are subsistence farmers. In addition, the area has high
poverty & illiteracy levels.
Today, the Kibuyuni/Mkanda dam is four (4) kilometres long and has a capacity of
approximately 1.6 billion litres of water. It is also the main source of fresh water for
thousands of villagers in the larger Mangawani Location.
There is no doubt that Mkanda dam is a great gift to the people of Mangawani
location as they have plenty of water for their domestic use. Even though they are
yet to optimally utilize the large volumes of water but they all agree that life would
have been more difficult without Mkanda dam.
Information was sought regarding the status and history of the project in a bid
to collect information that would support the present needs of the community.
Hence, this report sought to provide the following:


  •   Data relating to the inception and implementation of the Mkanda Dam in

Kwale County.

  •   Analysis and harmonization of various information relating to the Mkanda

Dam project and the collection of information chronologically reflecting
the various stages of the project, in particular: Official name(s) of the
project; Financier(s) of the project; month & year of the finance(s); duration
of the project; funds allocated; contractors selected; role of contractors;
specific outstanding problems with the project including socio-economic
effects to the surrounding community.

  •   Provision supporting documents for the data collected, and where

necessary make specific references as to the sources of the data.


  • Observation

This was a fundamental and highly important method in the study. It was
used to discover complex interactions in natural social settings. Even in studies
using in-depth interviews, observation plays an important role as the researcher
notes the interviewee’s body Language in addition to her words. It is, however, a
method that requires a great deal of the researcher, the difficulty of managing a
relatively unobtrusive role, and the challenge of identifying the big picture while
finely observing huge amounts of fast-moving and complex behaviour are just a
few of the challenges.


  • Interviews

The study also employed use of interviews simply because Interviews have
particular strengths. An interview yields data in quantity quickly. When more than
one person participates (e.g., focus group interviews), the process takes in a wider
variety of information than if there were fewer participants.
The review of key documents was conducted for the purpose of gathering data on
the background and historical context from documents that were shared by the
committees. Knowledge of the history and context surrounding a specific setting
comes, in part, from reviewing documents.


The conduct of this study on Mkanda dam has been quite useful as it has
and will allow people to know what happened and discover the gaps that
need to be filled. As for the lessons learnt, the following are the views and
To the Government
The government cannot abdicate its duties to its citizens. Therefore, all arms of
the state, i.e. the judiciary, executive and the legislature have a key role to play in
development projects. Hence:


  •   The constitution requires that the citizens are involved in governance;

therefore the participation of the public in decision making cannot be
ignored. Therefore, the government needs to provide mechanisms and
avenues for public participation at the local level to allow maximum
participation of all stakeholders from the start of the project. Consequently,
consultations should be adequate and done early enough, resources
must be committed to facilitate such consultations, and the issues raised
noted, the community views incorporated during the process addressed

  •   The government and its agencies should provide sufficient access to

information to citizens on development projects carried out within
the community and also promote proactive release or disclosure of
information through regular reports to the such communities;

  •   The government must ensure that sustainability is intentionally addressed

and integrated into all project components. Hence, adequate plans
must be made to provide capacity building for community members
and organisations; investments in productive assets; improvement of
access to markets, financial services and infrastructure; and support for
locally appropriate approaches to resource management and conflict

  •   The government needs to invest in and support institutional capacity

building and the strengthening of governance that will lead to the
establishment of quality institutions in order to ensure long-term impact
of interventions;

  •   In designing projects, the government needs to adopt results-based


  •   The government needs to provide mechanisms to address and stamp out

corruption by government officials perpetrated in development projects
by among others: strengthening institutions such as the Kenya Police
Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Judiciary and

  •   So on, which are key institutions in the fight against corruption;The government      should    also strive to develop simple and flexible projects

which can build on local and national implementation support systems in
order to minimise recurrent costs;

  •   There should be proper institutional, economic, environmental, social

and risk analysis coupled with sufficient risk mitigation strategies in the
design, development and implementation of community projects;

  • Proper monitoring and evaluation (M & E) systems should be put in place

and the conducted regularly to allow for the generation of information,
dissemination of lessons learnt, and the conduct of corrective measures
to ensure that projects ultimately achieve their intended objectives;

  • The government should ensure that approved technical standards are

employed in the development of infrastructure projects and that technical
experts are employed to simplify complex projects for the benefit of local

  •  The government should ensure that before projects are carried out,

adequate environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) are carried
out, and submissions and concerns of the public are taken into account,
and the recommendations implemented;

  • The government has the responsibility to make sure that its people are

well informed on the matters pertaining to their daily lives which include
people’s rights and responsibilities, including to know their constitution;

  •   It also has the responsibility to ensure and facilitate its citizens to enjoy

better standards of life in terms of food, shelter, health services, education,
and democratic governance.

  •   The government must also work towards the improvement of the economy

with emphasis on poverty eradication so that ultimately, people’s decisions
are not influenced by lack of resources hence encouraging corruption.
Roles and Responsibilities of Citizens
It is wrong for people of Mangawani to say they were not involved as though they
expect development to follow them at their doorstep. They should know they
have a role to play towards sustainable development and thus:


  • Citizens must involve themselves in governance including in planning,

implementing, monitoring and evaluation of projects;

  • They must seek and obtain information – asking for schedules of committee

meetings and attend them and participating fully in the preparation of
development plans;

  • They should monitor the allocation and disbursement of funds thereby

ensuring that they are rightly allocated;

  •  They should work to develop proposals for funding to support local


  •   They should monitor and evaluate projects through social audits;
  •   They can offer to work for a project in the Project Management Committees

to ensure transparency and accountability;

  •   They should monitor the activities of local organizations awarded funds

for implementation of activities to promote accountability; and,

  •   They should also report incidences of corruption/misuse of resources to

the relevant authorities if and when they happen.

In 1975 the people of Mangawani location had acute water shortage. This
led to a meeting mobilised by community leaders. The meeting focused on
how the water problem could be solved. Though there are no minutes of the
meeting at present, the people interviewed stated that in the meeting, it was
agreed that the community would send a proposal to the County Council of
Kwale, asking it to construct a dam at the meeting point of rivers Ramisi and
Thereafter, council sourced for funds, and received an unknown amount of money
from the Ministry of Water for the project which was to run over a one year period.
Through the Ministry, a Mr. John Washer, a contractor installed the first pump
machine and also oversaw the construction of Kikoneni dam just at a point where
river Ramisi meets river Mkanda. The contractor Mr. John Washer oversaw the
construction and Purchases of the materials.
The project was called the Kibuyuni Mangawani Water Project. The Kikoneni dam
had a capacity of about 400,000 litres of water. None of the villagers has an idea of
how much it cost or what was the budget.
The name Kikoneni Dam is the first name that was given to the initial dam which
was located at the meeting point of river Mkanda and Ramisi. Then later after its
relocation to the source of Mkanda River it was called Kibuyuni/Mkanda dam.

The community indicated that neither the contractor nor the authorities’ bothered
to involve them in the construction of the dam. In that sense Mangawani people
felt that they had no ownership of the Dam. Citizens were also denied the right to
monitor the proceedings and do evaluation of the project.
In addition, the project designs and bills of quantities were done and kept secret
by the Ministry of Water. The project was not completed because completion of the
project would mean several water points would have been strategically erected
and people would be drawing water from them and not going to the dam.
Unfortunately, the dam was swept away by 1978 el nino rains, rendering it unusable
hence the efforts towards its reconstruction began later.

Reconstruction Phases
Phase 1: Relocation and Reconstruction
In 1978, during El Nino rains the walls of the Kikoneni dam were severely damaged
and swept away by the large volumes of water. So in 1980 through the Ministry
of water, the World Bank donated eight million shillings for the reconstruction of
the dam. The project was awarded to Kundang Sing Comp’ contractors whose
contract ran from early 1980 through to August 1981, a period of approximately
eighteen (18) months.

The contractor identified a suitable location for the relocation of the dam after the
initial place was found unsuitable. The new dam was to be for (4) kilometres long
dam with a capacity of approximately 1.6 billion litres of water.
In August 1981, the contractor left without finishing his work. The pipes were laid
up to Kikoneni location which is about ten (10) kilometres away from Kibuyuni,
hence the people were left without water. As for the people of Mangawani, laying
of the pipes was supposed to have also covered at least the whole of Kibuyuni
As a result of the relocation of the Kikoneni dam in 1980 it was thereafter renamed
the Kibuyuni or Mkanda dam. The name Kibuyuni dam was used because the
dam is in Kibuyuni village and the Mkanda dam name is used because the dam
is located just at the source of river Mkanda. Hence the names Kibuyuni dam and
Mkanda dam refer to one and the same thing.

The Citizens indicated that they were not consulted when decided to
relocate the dam. The new site that was identified was privately owned land.
The contractor forcefully took away peoples land without their consent and
agitated them further, by uprooting plantations that they had planted so as to
create space for the new dam. As a result 27, people lost their land. These people
have never been compensated to date. Further, the community stated that when
saw people working on their land and they tried questioning, the chief would
silence them all.
The Kibuyuni people indicated that the idea behind construction of Mkanda
Dam was to bring water close to the people but that was not realized as the
contractor left after completion of the dam construction and relaying pipes to
Kikoneni location. Further, the members of the Kibuyuni villages state that had
the contractor laid pipes and set up enough water points in the whole Mangawani
location, there wouldn’t have been loss of lives from crocodile attacks.
In addition, the community feels that there was massive misappropriation of
funds as eight million shillings at the time was a lot of money that could have
done a better job had there been better management of the funds or involvement
of the community.
Despite spending of eight million on the dam Kibuyuni people were still without
water and wanted more funds to erect water points that would keep them
away from the snapping jaws of the reptiles in Mkanda dam. In that regard, the
community needed help of piping water from the dam to safer places where they
could draw water.

4.2 Phase 2: Laying of Pipes
Between April and June 2002, the community sent their councillor to the Ministry
of Water with a proposal. The water Ministry agreed and helped lay pipes covering
a distance of 1.2 Km from the source to the Kibuyuni primary school near ABC
4.2.1 Issues
Yet again, the community only saw people working and they were not involved.
Since it was a short term contract, the community couldn’t get time to even
acquaint themselves with those involved. Unfortunately, Susan Mbula the
councillor then was not available and no one had her contacts.
The person in charge then who the community didn’t know did not employ young
men from within as he was supposed to. The community was not even involved
in the phase and the bit he did was not of helpful. This is because the community
needed completed water points with storage tanks for continuous access of water
even when the machines were not working.
In 2003, the European Union donated six (6) million shillings through the County
Council of Kwale geared towards the laying of pipes. Details of how the funds were
used are scanty or none at all as efforts to have a meeting with the former county
council chairman were in vain. The project was for only one year.
The villagers says that they only could see people working but could not tell what
they were doing as the County Council did not call for any meeting to inform
people of the activities of the contractor.
Further, there are no clear records of what the contractor was supposed to do.
However, the contractor, whose only known name is Mr. Mwadiga oversaw the
laying of the pipes to a distance of 1.2 kilometres and the purchase of all the

4.3.1 Issues
Large amounts of money were spent unwisely and the community was not happy
with the output of the project. In addition, the County council ignored citizens
and did not involve them in the implementation of the project which was for their
4.4 Phase 4: Laying of Pipes
In 2007, HATUA CBO, i.e. a community based organization, wrote a twenty-five (25)
million shilling funding proposal and forwarded it to several donors such as the Coast
Water Services Board (CWSB) and Water Services Trust Fund. The project intended
to lay pipes across the entire Mangawani location and buy a pumping machine.
Picture 3: The pumping machine bought through the Hatua CBO project
The Water Services Trust Fund agreed to fund the proposal in phases and allocated
four (4) million shillings to the project although only 3.9 million shillings was
released. The remaining balance of twenty-one (21) million was never released
and if it was released, the community does not know where the money went to, as
it never reached to them.
The project ran from April to December that year, a period of 8 months.

Coast Water Services Board hired a contractor directly. The community agrees in
unison that these were the only monies that were spent in the right way. This was
during the general elections and there were loads of confusion here and there but
all went well.
Due to inadequate funds, the CBO requested the community to contribute in
terms of man labour. Eventually water was bought to the Kibuyuni dispensary.
An established committee that was formed was trained on water management,
operation maintenance, and hygiene. The funds were also used to purchase a
pumping machine at a cost of 1.27 million shillings.
4.4.1 Issues
Considering the project required twenty-five (25) million shillings and only four (4)
million shillings was released which is only 16% of the total means that not much
could be achieved. This meant there was need for extra funding to cover for the
remaining 84% as the community says. Further, the community indicated that the
contractor was not known to them as he would only come to pay his men.
In response to queries, the CEO of CWSB Eng. Thubu clarified that it was indeed
true that the money was never released then, but the Board had since received
the money from the Office of the Prime Minister and that the funds were in their
accounts. He further clarified that some of the funds would be used to purchase an
electric water pump machine that would help reduce cost as the diesel powered
engines consumed a lot of money on fuels. In addition, the funds would be used
in the rehabilitation of raw water pump house and that would cost an estimated
Kenya Shillings 1,935,000.
4.5 Phase 5: Laying of Pipes
In the year 2009, Kibuyuni people still needed more water points as people would
travel to far-off areas to draw water from the few working water points. So once
again Hatua CBO wrote another six (6) month proposal to Plan International, Kwale.
They were given two (2) million shillings that was targeted towards the purchase
of the pipes for the trucking that covered three (3) Kilometres.
Plan hired a contractor directly to do the work. The contractor oversaw the laying
of pipes, source for man labour and the purchase of all the materials.

4.5.1 Issues
Despite this effort, Kibuyuni people still needed more water points. However,
during this phase, the people seemed content with how the funds were spent.
4.6 Phase 6: Purchase of Water Tanks
The need for water tanks to act as reservoirs for the water points was noted.
However, the community could not afford purchase of water tanks. Hence, the
community through the Hatua CBO requested for help from the Coast Water
Services Board for the purchase of tanks.
The Coast Water Services Board (CWSB) donated two water tanks with the capacity
of ten cubic meters. The water tanks were to be used to store water at water points
thus saving fuel from continuous use of pumps.
4.6.1 Issues
After being granted the tanks, the community were required to transport them
from Mombasa as the Board did not offer them transport. There was only two
functional water points and the two tanks were just enough at that time.
4.7 Phase 7: Transport of Tanks
Since the community couldn’t raise funds to transport the tanks, Hatua CBO then
requested Plan International for help in the transportation of the tanks. Plan
International Kwale readily agreed and offered transport in terms of vehicles and
not cash.
4.7.1 Issues
The tanks were transported to Mangawani Trading Centre which was its intended
destination as it was where many people were concentrated at and also a place
where security of the tanks was guaranteed. However, this place was three (3) Km
away from the point where the laying of pipes had ended. Sadly, this meant there
was need for laying pipes for a further three kilometres to reach there.

4.8 Phase 8: Laying of Pipes
In 2010, the Coast Water Services Board came in and extended the laying of
pipes from Mangawani Trading Centre to Mkundi River over a distance of six (6)
kilometres. This was done at a cost of ten (10) million shillings over a one year
Two water points were also erected as part of this process. The board hired a
contractor directly and the community does not know much about him. It should
be noted that in the recent years the contractors hired did not interact much with
the community.
In early 2013, the pipes that carry water to Mangawani Trading Centre were
destroyed by tractors and by March 2013, the Coast Water Board begun replacing
the broken pipes and also added three water points. One is at Mzee Mwalimu
Kustowa, the other at Mangawani Primary School, and the last one is at Abdalla
Shee Kogwa.
4.9 Phase 9: Laying of Pipes
In 2013, the Coast Water Services embarked on the rehabilitation and
augmentation of the dam. The CEO of the Board, indicated that to completing
the project required an estimated Kenya Shillings 80,570,165 up from the original
total of Kenya Shillings 53,713,443 taking into account inflation and cost increases.
This phase if fully funded, would involve the conduct of several activities, as shown
in the table below.
A. Rehabilitation Initial Cost
Cost (Factor
Bill No. Description Amount KShs
Package 1:- Construction of New
reinforced Concrete sill about 10m
Downstream of existing sill
1,117,000 1,675,500
2 Package 2:- Fencing of Mkanda Dam and
raw water pumping Equipment 7,430,000 11,145,000
3 Package 3:- rehabilitation of raw water
pump house 1,935,000 2,902,500
4 Package 4:- construction of 15-25 cubic
metres/hr CFU for Tiribe line 4,458,843 6,688,265
Package 5:- Laying of tapping gravity
main from Kikoneni treatment plant
towards Mkanda dam.
6,060,600 9,090,900
6 Package 6:- Rehabilitation of Kikoneni
treatment plant 5,160,000 7,740,000
A Sub-Total for Rehabilitation 26,161,443 39,242,165
B Extensions to surrounding areas – –
C Augmentation of Kibuyuni-Mangawani-
Tiribe water project 13,000,000 19,500,000
D Capacity building 14,552,000 21,828,000

Total 53,713,443 80,570,165
The CEO of the Board Eng Thubu, indicated that they had Kenya Shillings twentyone
(21) million which they planned to use to implement package 3, 4, and 6C as
shown in the table above. This would result in the rehabilitate a raw water pump
house that takes water to Mangawani Tiribe as it was not in good condition.
Secondly, they planned to construct a 15-25 cubic metre/ hour CFU for Tiribe line.
And lastly, they planned to lay tapping gravity main from the Kikoneni treatment
plant towards Mkanda dam. Further, he indicated that the treatment plant would
be rehabilitated so as to offer clean and safe water to the people.
In response to the current issues faced by the community, he indicated that the
community had a right to their own opinions. However, he pointed out that the
CWSB was doing the best to provide water to the people of Kwale as the dam had
enough water to supply the entire district.

Further, in response to queries over current work on the project, he indicated
that many of the current activities in the project were still technical and not so
important to the public. On the question of whether funds were lost, he reiterated
the Boards position that no money was lost or misused.
More importantly, he indicated that the Board welcomed the idea behind social
auditing but cautioned that the community should approach it with the right
motive and not with the idea that monies are always misappropriated.
5 Outstanding Problems
The following are some of the outstanding problems that the study noted.
5.1 Human Wildlife Conflict
(Crocodile Attacks)
The construction of the Mkanda dam was meant to alleviate water shortages for
both man and beast but soon after its construction crocodiles from the nearby
Ramisi River colonized this water source posing great danger to users.
The villagers confirmed that since then it has been a nightmare for them. 17
people have been attacked by crocodiles since then, and 9 of those attacked dead
while seven are disabled in addition to losing countless number of livestock to the
deadly reptiles.
The villagers said the seasonal water springs in parts of Mangawani had also not
been a safe option due to presence of marauding elephants from the nearby
Shimba hills forest.
5.2 Loss of Land
With the relocation of the dam in 1980 after the El Nino rains 27 people lost their
land. None has been compensated to date and many of them they have filed
complaints with the office of the District Commissioner Kwale.
The Coast Water Services Board indicated that those who lost land the water
services board says that once the project is complete they will sit down with
the community and work on a solution that would be acceptable by all on how
the compensation would be like. And that could also mean appointing them as
directors to run the project or even supplying them with water for free.
5.3 Water Shortage
As it stands today close to thirty (30) million have been spent and Kibuyuni people
still have water problems. There is need for enough funding that would lay pipes
to all areas of Mangawani location.
6 Lessons Learnt
Various lessons were learnt during the study. The following were worth
6.1 Misappropriation of Funds
The community agrees that all the other funds except for the one funded through
the CBO were misused. In Mangawani it is said that some of the leaders at various
levels were not cooperative. It was later discovered that this was due to the fear
that they are afraid of being questioned by people of their wrong doing thus to
be on safe side, these leaders didn’t organize meetings pretending that people do
not respond to public meetings.
6.2 Poverty v/s Decision Making
Another issue which we learnt in Mangawani is that people are poor (in some areas
very poor) and this has affected their power in decision making. In fact it has put
them at a risk of making wrong decisions simply because they have been given
money or inducements that they needed to manage their lives. This has created a
class of few people who have the power to dominate the majority who are poor.
This denies democratic decision making. For instance many of those who lost their
land during the Mkanda dam construction were cheated that they would have
water brought to their homes but none ever got that promise fulfilled.
6.3 Citizen Participation
The government has the ultimate responsibility to make sure that its people are
well informed on the matters pertaining to their daily lives which include people’s
rights and responsibilities towards sustainable development. Kibuyuni people
don’t know what their rights are. We have also learnt that in most cases public
meetings called in the sub-locations or ward level seldom involve people who
have knowledge on their rights or are development conscious
6.4 Lack of Transparency and Accountability
Many of the activities in the Kibuyuni dam project went on unknown to the
citizens. This is true because Citizens were not aware of their rights and therefore
could not hold contractors accountable. Citizens must be involved in planning,
implementing, monitoring and evaluation of projects and they should also be
allowed to monitor and evaluate projects through social audits. They should also
monitor the activities of local organizations and contractors awarded funds for
implementation of activities to promote accountability at the local level.
Financers of the Mkanda Dam Project
1. World Bank -1980-1981
2. European Union – 2003
3. Water Service Trust Fund – 2006 -2007
4. Plan International – 2009-2010
5. Coast Water Service Board – 2010, 2013
Funds Contributed by the Financers
1. World Bank – 8 million shillings
2. European Union – 6 million shillings
3. Water Service Trust Fund – 3.9 million shillings
4. Plan International – 2 million shillings
5. Cost Water Service Board – 10 million shillings
Contractors Involved in Construction of Mkanda Dam:
1. Kundan Sing – 1980
2. Mr. Mwadiga – 2003
3. Mr. Maina – 2006-2007
4. Plan International Kwale – 2009-2010
5. Coast Water Board – (Kwale and Mombasa Offices)-2010
6. Coast Water Services Board

the writer is a member of KYGC and a third year student of business at the Kenyatta university – main campus.

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