The Big Four Initiatives-Drivers [The Big Four Agenda]:


1. Background to Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin

Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority (ENNDA) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, CAP 448 of the laws of Kenya, to promote integrated and sustainable social, economic & political development in its area of jurisdiction. The Authority’s mandate is to identify, plan, initiate, guide/direct, implement and co-ordinate development activities, and promote integrated multi-sectoral projects and programmes in the basin. The Authority covers the whole of drainage basin 5, which, is roughly delineated by latitudes 4.5o North and 0.5o South of the equator and longitudes 36.5o and 41o East and covers a total land area of approximating 209,576 km2 equivalent to 36.4 percent of Kenya’s land area. The Basin has a total population of slightly over 4 million according to the 2009 census results, which accounts for 10.2% of the total population of Kenya. The area under the Authority’s jurisdiction is found within ten (10) counties of Nyeri, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Samburu, Meru, Isiolo, Garissa, Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera (see the map below)

Administrative Coverage of ENNDA in a Kenyan context

2. Basin Characteristics

The Basin has an average annual rainfall of 426.8mm, which ranges from 150mm to 917.5mm, with some areas having dry period lasting for more than 9 month in a year. More than 70% of the entire region covered by the basin receives annual rainfall of 700mm. Further, the basin experiences extreme weather conditions and is affected by flooding when it rains and devastating drought during the dry season.

i). Poverty Situation in the ENNDA Region

Poverty is a serious problem in the ENNDA area, particularly in the ASAL area where more than half of the population falls below the poverty level. Limited social services will have both positive and negative effect on the population growth. Limited family planning will have positive effect on the population growth by accelerating the fertility rate. Limited medical care and limited access to safe water has a negative effect on population growth as it affects the mortality rate. A household with food expenditure of less that Kshs. 703 per equivalent adult per month is considered to be food poor. Similarly, a rural household with an income of below Kshs. 978 and an urban household with an income of below Kshs. 1,490 are considered to be absolute poor. The extremely poor constitutes those persons who cannot meet the minimum food calorie requirements, even if they concentrated all their spending on food. This situation is inferred from the following observations which were done during a study carried out by the Authority in 2010 and reviewed the following; the average literacy rate for the counties in the Basin was 50.34% with some counties registering literacy rate as low as 18.5 compared to national average of 74.8%.; the average access to safe water is 37.05% with some counties registering access as low as 8.2% such as Mandera against a national average of 43.2%; the rural food poverty in the basin averages 54.05% with some counties such Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit raging from 72 to 90%, while Garissa, Wajir and Mandera rage from 51 to 61%.; rural absolute poverty is reasonably high averaging at 56.15% with some counties such Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit raging from 72 to 90%, while Mandera rages from 61 to 71%.;rural hardcore poverty averages 41.05% in the Basin counties with some counties registering as high as 61 to 90% such as Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo raging from 61 to 90%.; food security, absolute poverty and hardcore poverty are varied in the Basin being lower in the upper catchment comprising of Nyandarua, Nyeri and Meru with them being 20 to 30%, 31 to 40% and 8 to 20% respectively. While in the middle catchment comprising Isiolo, Samburu and Laikipia the same parameters vary from 41 to 50%, 41 to 50% and 21 to 30% for food poverty, absolute poverty and hardcore poverty respectively. In the lower catchment comprising of Garissa, Wajir Mandera and Marsabit the situation is not any way better for it rages from 51 to 90%, 51 to 90% and 31 to 90% for food poverty, absolute poverty and hardcore poverty respectively. (ENNDA, 2010).

ii) Contribution of the Livestock Industry

GDP of ENNDA region contributes to 7.9% of the total GDP in Kenya. The amount of livestock products was K$ 56.1million in 1980 and rapidly increased in the early 1990’s.

iii)Health and Disease Prevalence

The ENNDA region has low numbers of health care facilities. There were only a total 36 hospitals (both public and private), 42 health centres, 283 dispensaries ( Public, private and faith based organizations operated) and an estimated 348 clinics. The health facilities lack equipments and qualified personnel. The region has no referral hospital (Various development plans 2003 -2008).

It can thus be concluded that common development factors in the ENNDA region are the dispersed human settlement patterns marginalization of the region in planning and development investment, the general inaccessibility of the region, poor resource utilization and management, inadequate infrastructure and service facilities, and governance and insecurity.


In its endeavors towards achieving the Big Four Agenda being promoted by the Jubilee government, ENNDA is implementing various basin wide integrated development programmes and projects these include:-

1. Ewaso Ng’iro North Integrated Water, Drought & Food Security Development Project

The Project aims to promote food and nutrition security in the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin through on farm rainwater harvesting for irrigation and promoting dry land agriculture. It will increase community’s resilience to climate change through more sustainable household food supply as opposed to relying entirely on rainfed agriculture, promote wealth creation and employment through agro based incomes.

The project will entail development of 2,000 water pans and wells for small scale farmers in the basin, promote the use of water saving technologies in farming and undertake capacity building for the farmers.

The project will address food and Nutrition Security in the big four initiatives of the Jubilee Government

Use of drip irrigation at ENNDA Farm in Isiolo

Onion demo farm
Spinach demo farm

2. Northern Kenya Integrated Camel Development Programme

The fact that camels thrive in the harshest of Kenya’s agro-ecological zones and is generally able to withstand the frequent droughts which decimate large numbers of cattle, goats and sheep populations, continuing to produce decent quantities of milk places camels as perhaps one of the most suitable avenues through which the livelihoods of the communities living in these arid lands can be achieved. The camel milk sub-sector is large and has the potential to permanently change the livelihoods of poor communities living in Kenya’s arid and semi arid lands. This sub-sector therefore deserves a much higher attention than it is currently getting from government and development partners in order to achieve food and nutrition security in the arid areas of the basin. Kenya has the fifth largest camel herd in the world after Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Mauritania respectively.

The Authority’s area of jurisdiction is generally where over 67% (1.981million) of the 2.971million camel population in Kenya country are found according to the 2009 census. The ENNDA region produces approximately 700 million litres of milk annually. Tapping into this potential even modestly though value addition would mean putting billions of shillings in the hands of camel keeping households in the region and promoting food and nutrition security in the basin.

In order to intervene ENNDA plans to establish a Camel Milk Processing Factory with a 2 million litres annual processing capacity in the region to add value to the camel milk for both local and export market. Where by the Authority will collect, process, and sell commercially viable, high quality and high value camel milk produce, operating an effective and efficient raw camel milk processing facility in accordance to the set national standards of hygiene and safety.

The project will entail development of a milk processing factory, milk chilling plants, milk bulking coolers/collection centers, capacity building and value chain development by supporting the development of producers cooperatives, development of access roads, camel milk shelf life extension research, camel research and extension, awareness creation especially to non-camel rearing communities, water and fodder and water development

Camel milking shed at ENNDA Camel center in Ngaremara Isiolo.

>>>Camel can produce high yield of milk during dry season if fed on supplementary food as demonstrated above.<<<

The project will address both food and Nutrition Security & Manufacturing pillars of the big four initiatives of the Jubilee Government

3. Northern Kenya Integrated Central Meat Processing Factory Development

The ENNDA basin holds about 80 percent of the livestock resources and produces about 60 percent of the red meat consumed in Kenya. The basin has surplus meat animals which have resulted into overgrazing and overstocking whereas the area is already suffering from fragility of its ecosystem. The establishment of a Meat Processing factory in the basin will therefore enable the country to utilize the surplus livestock.

The factory will have a daily capacity of processing one thousand (1,000) head shoats, five hundred (500) head of cattle and two hundred (200) head of camels and producing high quality meat and meat products for both local consumption and export. It will also process edible and non-edible by-products for better utilization of the resources.

The factory will be composed of the buildings housing the slaughterhouse with its other facilities. The equipment consist of slaughter lines, meat and by - products processing equipment, cooling and freezing equipment, sewage disposal facilities, electricity and water supply.

The project will promote food and nutrition security, mitigate the effects of recurrent droughts that often occurs in the arid and semi-arid lands, stimulate economic activities in the region, improve incomes of pastoralist groups, contribute to poverty reduction and create employment by creating over 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

4. Ewaso Ng'iro North Integrated Development Programme

Ewaso Ng’iro North River is the lifeline of communities living within the Ewaso Ng’iro North River basin. The basin suffers from great variations in flows during rainy and dry periods. During the rains flash floods occur frequently causing mass loss and damage of properties in the downstream. While in dry periods there are minimal flows in the river causing conflicts between the downstream dwellers and upstream. As a solution to these cyclic trends of fluctuations in river flows, the Ewaso Ng’iro North Dam is important.

The Authority has completed a comprehensive prefeasibility study for a multipurpose dam that will control the floods ensuring river flow regulation to provide dry season flows downstream of Archer’s post, hydropower generation of 40 MW, provide irrigation water for 16,000 acres, provide water industrial development and for the Isiolo Resort City, provide water domestic, livestock and wildlife use in the Isiolo, Samburu and Wajia Counties.

The multi-purpose dam will entail the construction of damming weir with a reservoir capacity of 363M cubic metres with a height of 89metres from ground level and dam’s crest length of 76M

Ewaso Ng’iro River burst its banks during the rainy season causing flooding down stream

5. Gum Arabic and Resins Integrated Programme

The communities in Arid and semi-Arid parts of the basin have over relied on livestock as a means of their livelihood. However, due to changing climatic conditions pastoralism is becoming an unsustainable as droughts has reduced the number of livestock therefore creating the need to find alternative means of livelihood for the local communities in the basin.

Gums and Resins development aims at developing alternative sources of income for the pastoral communities, which is in line with the government policy on poverty eradication especially in rural areas. The introduction of the project in the basin is an important step towards organized production and marketing of Gums and Resins from the area.

This alternative source of incomes will help to improve the living standard of the pastoral communities by gaining access to food, water, education and health services.

The Authority is undertaking the construction of a 4 line Gums and Resins processing factory in Wajir County is completed and functioning with an annual processing capacity of 500 tons of Gum Arabic and Resins.

ENNDA Wajir Gum and resin processing factory

The project will address manufacturing Industrialization, value addition and Agro-processing in the big four initiatives of the Jubilee Government.

6. Chalbi Desert Integrated development Programme

The proposed Integrated Programme for the Development of Chalbi Desert is based on the fact that the area has one of the most excellent wind resources in the country with a potential to generate over 1,200 Mw of wind power and the area also commercially viable salt deposits which have not yet been exploited.

It is therefore envisaged that by harnessing of the vast wind power which the best wind regimes to generate 1,200 mw the project will have a multiplier effect through promotion of manufacturing activities in the country, commercial exploitation of the salts through establishment of salt and glass manufacturing industry, among other minerals in the basin, abstraction of groundwater for livestock, domestic, small-scale irrigation demands as well as environmental conservation interventions thus an important driver in the achievement of the Big Four Agenda.

7. Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment conservation Project.

The Project involves the improvement of water resources management through rehabilitation of degraded forests and riparian within the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin (ENNRB) catchment. It aims to increase vegetation cover and rehabilitate and protect riparian areas. This is meant to reduce land and mountainous degradation in uplands of catchment and increase water retentions. The need arises from degraded catchment areas and mountains though planting of 2.5 Million bamboo seedlings and other appropriate tree seedlings along the two water towers of Mt. Kenya and Aberdares and along the riparian of main Ewaso Ng’iro North River and its tributaries.

The frequent droughts and drying up of major rivers in the basin due to global warming, high population increase, demand for fuel wood and building materials and climatic change some the misty mountains and river banks have being degraded are key challenge to food security in the basin. Reversing the adverse effects of degradation of water towers and catchment areas under the authority is therefore important for the long term food security in that basin.

Establishment of tree nursery catchment areas of Mt. Kenya
Catchment areas conservation through tree planting in Samburu County

8. Ewaso Ng’iro North Integrated Small Holder Irrigation Project

From previous studies and stakeholders meetings, it was identified that there is a strong need to provide a stable irrigation water source for agricultural production given the situation where existing irrigation schemes are having serious problems of river shifting and perennial flooding in the downstream of Ewaso Ng’iro North River (ENNR).

The Ewaso Ng’iro North River Irrigation Project is located in Isiolo County of Kenya and lies 90-130 km downstream of Archer’s Post along the right bank of Ewaso Ng’iro North River (ENNR), where perennial floods and frequent river course changes occur. It extends to three (3) administrative sub-locations, namely: MalkaDaka, Garfasa, and Muchuro. The project will provide water for irrigation and develop irrigation infrastructure for 1,107ha and will serve about 1,475 households in Isiolo County thus contributing towards the achievement of the food and nutrition security pillar of the Big Four Agenda.

9. Water Development and Mechanization Unit

The overall goal of the programme is to improve sustainable access to water of good quality and quantity for the poor through development of water resources. Activities under various components will include water pans, drilling of boreholes, establishment of small water storage facilities, development of water harvesting facilities in public institutions as well as capacity building of stakeholders for sustainability of the envisaged projects.

The Authority has a state of art earth moving machineries and equipment including borehole drilling equipment capable of drilling, equipping and test pumping up to 650m and earth moving machines consisting of dozers, excavators, rollers, water boozers, petro tankers, farm tractors, concrete mixers, low loaders and prime movers among others. The water storage structures using these machinery and boreholes drilled will be used to facilitate small scale irrigation thus improving food and nutrition security of the Basins inhabitants.


10. Ewaso Ng’iro North Bricks and Tiles Heavy Clay Production Factory

This project aims to transfer to the local communities a cheap technology on the use of cheap modern house building techniques using stabilized soil blocks. The production of stabilized soil bricks and micro concrete roofing tiles is to transfer appropriate technology for the production of decent, durable and affordable building materials to the local people in the ENNDA region. The Authority has trained youths and produced and sold 6 million affordable heavy clay building materials (including hollow clay blocks, roofing tiles, flooring blocks).

Stabilized soil block production at ENNDA HQs
Stabilized soil block production at ENNDA HQs

Alternative Technology use has provided cheap affordable housing materials to local residents.

The Authority plans to develop a heavy clay production factory to produce modern clay blocks, floor blocks among other heavy clay housing materials. The project will contribute towards the realization of affordable housing pillar of the big four initiatives of the Jubilee Government.

Proposed heavy clay factory

11. Integrated Regional Development Plan

Ewaso Ng'iro North Development Authority Integrated Regional Development Plan (ENNDA - IRDP), 2010-2040 is a long-term spatial framework for regional development. The plan covers a period of 30 years, from 2010 to 2040. The plan has taken into account appropriate national and regional policy goals of the Government of Kenya, and ENNDA's corporate strategic plan, which has documented the development aspirations of the communities in its region.

The plan has been prepared within the context of the global goal of environment and sustainable human settlement in an urbanizing world, even as the country pursues poverty reduction and good governance. In this regard, the plan has achieved a degree of localization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Vision 2030 and aligning ENNDA's regional development with the principles enunciated in the Big Four agenda of the Jubilee Government of Kenya. In addition, the plan has anchored its proposals in the development concerns of the ENNDA region by embedding participation and consultation of key stakeholders and interest groups in the process of data collection and plan preparation. The mandates of ENNDA in regional plan preparation and coordination of resource management are also taken into account, especially at the strategic level of regional development.


The overall goal of this IRDP is to achieve equitable and balanced regional social economic development through the promotion of sustainable utilization of resources and the promotion of resource-based investment in the region for the benefit of all communities with specific objectives being:-

  1. To identify the region‘s resources and their level of utilization and suggest strategies to enhance their mobilization and utilization;
  2. To identify the region‘s environmental concerns and propose protection and conservation measures;
  3. To identify causes and effects of conflicts and develop strategies for sustainable peace;
  4. To analyze existing institutional structures and propose measures to enhance their efficiency;
  5. To examine and enhance the role of socio-cultural practices in development;
  6. To develop a plan of action for integrated development of the region;
  7. To provide a framework for sustainable human settlements;
  8. To provide a spatial framework for integrated development and provision of adequate infrastructure and services; and
  9. To provide a framework for effective implementation of this plan.

This plan is a blueprint for the organization and the region and can be used to derive potentials, opportunities and likely investment projects and programmes that can be undertaken within the Basin.

Projects and programmes proposed in this plan will include those addressing food security, health, housing, manufacturing which are envisaged in the big four initiatives of the Jubilee Government.

12. Ewaso Ng’iro North Integrated Regional Data Centre Project

The Authority has established an integrated up-to-date database covering the ENNDA basin that will help ENNDA present a unified face and aid accumulate a wide range of information from the basin. The data base aims to improve accessibility of data and information to ENNDA staff, ENNDA basin local communities and the general public and to provide information for decision making and planning. The data is available in Hard copy format in Report books, Soft Copy formats in Ms. Word &PDF Reports and GIS formats for Vector and Raster Data & Maps.Data are used by different people in different departments for different reasons.

The objective of the Project is to improve accessibility of data and information to ENNDA staff, ENNDA basin local communities and the general public and to provide information for decision making and planning

The database will facilitate;

  • • Interpretation and presentation of basin data in useful formats by transforming raw data into information.
  • • Distribution of data and information to the right people at the right time.
  • • Data preservation and monitoring the data usage for adequate periods of time.
  • • Control over data duplication and use, both internally and externally.
  • • Provide the information necessary for strategic decision making, strategic planning, policy formulation, and goals definition.
  • • Provide access to external and internal data to identify growth opportunities and to chart the direction of such growth.
  • • Provide a framework for defining and enforcing ENNDA Policies.

The database, which contains data and information mainly on natural resources, their distribution in the Basin and in some case possibly quantifying them will be used by the government, the Authority and other development actor to generate livelihood projects and programms. Many of this, will be geared towards alleviation of poverty thus improving food and nutrition security others will target the juakali who are mainly in the manufacturing sector.

From the database, it can be referred the housing situation in the basin is in a deplorable state and areas with poor housing have been mapped in the database which will ease the situation for the government to identify areas for improved housing.

The number of hospitals, health centres, clinics and other health facilities with their numbers bed levels and their spatial distribution are depicted in the database. It will therefore provide an important resource centre for planning implementation of these important facilities