Established in 1974, as the Tana River Development Authority, and subsequently in 1981 incorporating the Athi River, the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), is the oldest regional authority in Kenya
Better known by its acronym TARDA, its area of jurisdiction covers approximately 138,000 square kilometres, roughly 1/3rd of Kenya, and serves a population of 15 million.
TARDA was formed chiefly to enhance strategic planning and utilisation of the water and other resources in the Tana and Athi Rivers basin.
TARDA’s area of operation includes the areas that were until August 2010, when the new Constitution came into place, known as Nairobi, Central, Eastern, Coast, North Eastern and Rift Valley provinces.
Mandate and Functions:
To advise the Government on development and maximisation of the use of the basin’s water and other resources
To develop and maintain a comprehensive resources data base
Initiate such studies/surveys necessary to assess alternative water and land demands
Develop and undertake projects
Maintain liaison among development partners and/or stakeholders.
To undertake integrated planning, multipurpose development and management of the Tana and Athi Rivers Basin’s water and land-based resources in order to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the people in the region.
In line with Vision 2030, TARDA’s flagship projects include the High Grand Falls Multi- Purpose Reservoir Project, the Tana Integrated Sugar Project and Catchment Conservation.
The High Grand Falls project has the potential of producing and contributing 500 megawatts of hydro-power to the national grid. When completed, this Sh80 billion project will control flooding when there is abundant rain and also have water available for use when there is little or no rain.
The High Grand Falls Reservoir will hold water from seven rivers and create the potential for irrigation of 20,000 hectares. It is a multi-purpose project that will also act as a tourist attraction, enhance food security, create wealth for the local people and help improve lives and livelihoods.
The Tana Integrated Sugar Project (TISP) is a $350 million investment in partnership with Mumias Sugar Company, which will greatly enhance Kenya’s sugar production under the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) agreement between the two institutions. The project will revert to TARDA after 25 years.
TISP will comprise 4,000 hectares of rice; 16,000 hectares of sugar; construction of a sugar factory, installation of a 34-megawatt cogeneration unit, installation of an ethanol plant, livestock on 5,000 hectares complete with a feedlot and 8,000 hectares under trees for conservation.
TARDA’s other programmes include, but are not limited to:
The project’s objectives are threefold; generation of revenue, creation of employment and contribution to the growth of the agricultural industry and related activities in the area.
To overcome the twin challenges of inappropriate irrigation intake and old infrastructure and farm equipment, TARDA has a opted for a four-way forward plan comprising a floating pontoon initiative, rehabilitation of infrastructure, refurbishment of farm machinery and equipment and engagement with the private sector through public private (sector) partnerships (PPP).
The Masinga Irrigation Project which covers 60 hectares and whose objectives are similar to the Kiambere project. Availability of water is a challenge, which is why TARDA is installing a floating pontoon to generate the water for irrigation as well as rehabilitating infrastructure and replacing machinery.
The Kibwezi Irrigation Project covers an area of 170 hectares of which 51 hectares are already developed. About 2.5 hectares of this is made up of farm infrastructure; 4.5 hectares is under drip irrigation for production of grapes; 7.5 under vegetables and tree crops; 3 hectares under mangoes; 4.75 for citrus mini sprinklers and, 28.75 hectares have been set aside for overhead irrigation for vegetable production.
TARDA aims to have a total of 13,000 hectares of the greater Kibwezi Irrigation Project towards which end it is gathering data and rehabilitating infrastructure and the water pumping systems and seeking PPP.
In its bid to promote the livestock industry TARDA has the 659-hectare Emali Livestock Multiplication Project. The project makes available superior and desired breeding stock and imparts management skills to farmers.
With an installed capacity of 30 metric tonnes, the Kitui Honey Refinery aims at promoting the apiculture industry as an alternative source of income for the local people.
Environmental conservation is a major undertaking of TARDA and towards this end the authority maintains five nurseries with a total holding capacity of 2.5 million seedlings at Masinga, Tana Bridge, Kiambere, Machakos and Wote.
Other catchment conservation efforts by TARDA include the construction of check dams and water pans, terracing and tree seedling production, planting and management.
The resort, which has been in operation since 1990, has 46 rooms as well as 20 VIP tents, conference facilities and 30 ordinary tents.