You obviously need a title deed for land but did you know you can also get to own a river?
The Nyeri Catholic Archdiocese has acquired the legal document to own a man-made stream whose water comes from the Aberdare ranges.
River Kalondon gets its water from River Muringato in the Aberdares before it splits to Mathari in Nyarugumu village.
The stream covers two acres before rejoining River Muringato. The name Kalondon means “a small river” in the Gikuyu language. It was dug by the Consolata missionaries who had just settled in Mathari in 1902 and has been flowing ever since.
The missionaries were given the land by the government and needed water for their domestic use. They also wanted to generate electricity for a missionary hospital and school that were being built in the area.
The river provided water to a 3,000-acre farm that the missionaries used for growing tea and coffee.
The coffee factory set up by the preachers also got its water from the river.
The Consolata missionaries hired Africans to work on the plant as labourers in exchange for food and water.
When the missionaries left the country, the Archdiocese of Nyeri formalised the ownership by acquiring a title deed for the river and the land on which it passes through. The aim of acquiring a title deed was to secure it from any damage or contamination by residents.
The crucial document also ensures that no farming activity is undertaken near the river, to ensure its sustainability.
But there are challenges that come with owning a river, the major one being siltation.
Whenever there is a heavy downpour, the river also overflows, disrupting operations at nearby homesteads.
Sometimes, farmers in the area block the river from flowing downhill so that they can irrigate their farms. This cuts the amount of water that reaches users downstream.
Illegal abstraction is another major problem. Although regulations stipulate that one should not tap the water using a pipe that is more than two inches in diameter, some residents have been using four-inch-diameter pipes.
Apart from Mwenji residents, some of the institutions that depend on water from the river are Kamwenja Teachers College, Nyeri High School, Mathari Complex and Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
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