Improving water security for the poor in drought-prone regions: innovative risk-based science and water secure institutions

This Public Forum hosted by the University of Nairobi presents early results from a risk-based approach to improve water security for the poor in fragile, drought-prone regions.

6 April 2017 at 15.00-17.00
Lecture Theatre 401, University of Nairobi Towers, 4th floor, Nairobi, Kenya

The REACH programme (, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and led Oxford University, is a seven-year global programme that seeks to improve water security for millions of poor people in Asia and Africa. The main activities are focused in eight Water Security Observatories across three countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya. In Kenya, observatories have been established in Kitui and Turkana Counties with the support of the National Government primarily through the Ministry for Water and Irrigation, the County Governments of Turkana and Kitui, UNICEF Kenya, as well as the resident communities, private sector and other development partners.

The Kitui Observatory ‘Building water secure institutions’ explores how institutions can be designed to effectively to mitigate rural water security risks from rainfall variability, infrastructure unreliability and unsustainable finance. The Turkana Observatory ‘Small towns in fragile environments’ explores institutional responses and risks for small towns in relation to the converging issues of resource variability, demographic growth, infrastructure fragility and financial sustainability to ensure inclusive water services for all.

Achieving water security for the poor requires decision making across alternative and often competing choices with different outcomes at a range of scales. At this Public Forum, the REACH consortium presents early results from a risk-based approach that embeds the understanding and management of natural variability and associated political, economic and social uncertainties as the basis for interdisciplinary decision making. This approach recognises a range of alternative outcomes from multi-disciplinary data with inherent uncertainties over time (e.g. minutes for flash floods or decades for groundwater resources) and space (e.g. household poverty to national growth). It promotes a risk-based definition of water security as ‘a tolerable level of water-related risk’ that is also equitable, and recognises the interdisciplinary nature of choices, trade-offs and outcomes, with outcomes that influence water system sustainability, sustainable growth, and poverty reduction, considering the perspectives of different beneficiaries.

See programme flyer

14.30     Arrival and registration, all guests seated by 14.50

15.00     Welcome remarks

Professor Shem O.Wandiga, Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation
Professor Aduda Bernard O, Principal of the College of Biological and Physical Sciences

15.10     REACH Observatory highlights

Overview – Dr Rob Hope, Oxford University
Bangladesh – Professor Mahbuba Nasreen, University of Dhaka
Ethiopia –  Dr Meron Teferi Taye, Water and Land Resource Centre
Kenya – Dr Maggie Opondo, University of Nairobi

15.30     Keynote: climate science for improving water security for the poor

Professor Richard Washington, Oxford University
Dr Gilbert Ouma, University of Nairobi

16.10     Plenary discussion

What have we learnt from the current La Niña-related drought vis-à-vis securing water and livelihoods for the poor and vulnerable communities?

What do we need to put in place to advance water secure institutions?

How can we better target the poor and vulnerable to increase water security and resilience in the face of climate-related impacts on water resources?

What is needed to guide the mobilisation of governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals to collectively action innovative and sustainable solutions for water security?


Representative, Ministry for Water and Irrigation

Representative, County Government for Kitui/Turkana on Water


Water Services Regulatory Board

Moderated by:

Professor Shem Wandiga, ICCA

16.50     Closing remarks

Professor Peter Mbithi, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi

17.00     Refreshments

Event date: April 6, 2017

End date: April 6, 2017

Location: Lecture Theatre 401, University of Nairobi

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