List of Irrigation Schemes in Kenya -
List of Irrigation Schemes in Kenya

List of Irrigation Schemes in Kenya

In this comprehensive list, you will discover an array of remarkable irrigation projects that have propelled Kenya’s farming sector to new heights.

From the expansive Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme, envisioned as Africa’s food basket, to the transformative Tana Delta Irrigation Project, which harnesses the power of the mighty Tana River, each scheme showcases Kenya’s commitment to sustainable water management and food security.

Join us on this enlightening journey as we delve into the remarkable irrigation initiatives that have revolutionized Kenya’s agricultural landscape.

List of Irrigation Schemes in Kenya

These irrigation schemes in Kenya, both public and private, play a vital role in enhancing agricultural productivity, ensuring food security, and boosting the country’s economy.

They make use of innovative techniques, manage water resources effectively, and provide employment opportunities while supporting local communities.

We have provided a comprehensive list of irrigation schemes in Kenya below inclusive of both private and public owned irrigation schemes.

However, note that the list below is not an exhaustive list but they are some notable examples categorized under public and private initiatives.

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#1. Public Irrigation Schemes in Kenya

You have before you an extensive compilation of Kenya’s public irrigation schemes.

These remarkable initiatives are meticulously planned and overseen by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).

Under the NIA’s guidance, these schemes offer farmers invaluable tenancy rights, granting them access to top-notch irrigation facilities for their crop production endeavors.

With the support and management of the NIA, these schemes serve as a catalyst for agricultural growth and prosperity, empowering farmers to harness the benefits of efficient irrigation practices and maximize their crop yields.

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The public irrigation schemes in Kenya include but not limited to the following:

  1. Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme
  2. Tana Delta Irrigation Project
  3. Mwea Irrigation Scheme
  4. Perkerra Irrigation Scheme
  5. Ahero Irrigation Scheme
  6. Bura Irrigation Scheme
  7. Masinga Irrigation Scheme
  8. Hola Irrigation Scheme
  9. West Kano Irrigation Scheme
  10. Bunyala Irrigation Scheme

#2. Private Irrigation Schemes in Kenya

Apart from the public irrigation schemes mentioned earlier, Kenya also boasts several private irrigation schemes that have made significant contributions to the agricultural sector.

These private initiatives are established by various companies and organizations, showcasing their commitment to sustainable farming practices and food production.

For instance, Del Monte Kenya Limited operates a successful irrigation scheme focused on pineapple cultivation.

Kakuzi Limited engages in diverse crop cultivation, including avocados, macadamia nuts, and tea, through their irrigation scheme.

These private irrigation schemes exemplify the role of corporate entities in promoting efficient water management, adopting advanced irrigation techniques, and driving agricultural productivity in Kenya.

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The private irrigation schemes in Kenya include but not limited to the following:

  1. Del Monte Irrigation Scheme
  2. Kakuzi Irrigation Scheme
  3. Menengai II Irrigation Scheme
  4. Sosian Estate Irrigation Scheme
  5. Kilifi Plantations Irrigation Scheme
  6. Timaflor Irrigation Scheme
  7. Ol Jogi Conservancy Irrigation Scheme
  8. Kirinyaga Farms Irrigation Scheme
  9. Ajuji Green Valley Irrigation Scheme
  10. Dominion Farms Irrigation Scheme

Types Of Irrigation Systems In Kenya?

There are various types of irrigation systems employed by Kenyan farmers. They include

#1. Drip irrigation systems

Drip irrigation systems have gained significant popularity, emerging as one of the most common methods utilized in Kenya. This system delivers water directly to the plant roots, ensuring efficient water usage and reducing wastage.

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#2. Sprinkler irrigation

Another widely used irrigation system is sprinkler irrigation, where water is distributed through sprinklers that mimic rainfall. This method is suitable for a range of crops and can cover larger areas, providing uniform water distribution.

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#3. Surface irrigation

Surface irrigation, the traditional method of irrigation, involves flooding or furrow irrigation. Water is applied to the surface of the field, allowing it to infiltrate and reach the plant roots.

While it is a simple and cost-effective system, proper management is crucial to avoid waterlogging and uneven distribution.

#4. Center pivot irrigation

Center pivot irrigation is a method where a long arm equipped with sprinklers rotates around a central pivot, effectively covering a circular area.

This system is efficient for large-scale agriculture, providing uniform water distribution and minimizing water loss due to evaporation.

#5. Terraced irrigation

Terraced irrigation involves constructing terraces or steps on sloping land to create level platforms for planting.

This system prevents soil erosion and allows water to be evenly distributed across the terraces, promoting optimal plant growth in hilly or mountainous regions.

#6. Furrow irrigation

Furrow irrigation is an age-old technique, involves digging small channels or furrows between crop rows.

Water is then supplied to these furrows, allowing it to infiltrate the soil and reach the plant roots.

This method is cost-effective and suitable for row crops, though it requires precise water management to prevent runoff.

#7. Rain Hose Irrigation

Rain hose irrigation involves using flexible hoses with small holes to deliver water over the plants, simulating natural rainfall. This method is suitable for smaller areas or gardens.

#8. Button Drippers

Button drippers, similar to drip irrigation, deliver water directly to the plant roots through individual emitters. This method allows for precise water application and is often used for potted plants or small-scale irrigation.

Sources of Water for Irrigation in Kenya

There are different sources of water for irrigation in Kenya. The notable ones include:

#1. Local Water Services

Local water services provided by municipalities or water authorities are a common source of water for irrigation.

These services typically supply water through a network of pipelines and distribution systems.

Farmers can access this water by connecting to the local water supply, ensuring a reliable and regulated source for their irrigation needs.

#2. Dams

Kenya is home to several dams, which serve as important sources of water for irrigation. These dams are constructed across rivers or valleys to store water during the rainy season.

Farmers can tap into these reservoirs during the dry season, utilizing the stored water for irrigating their fields.

Dams play a crucial role in providing a consistent water supply for agriculture and contribute to improved crop yields.

#3. Lakes

Kenya is blessed with abundant lakes, such as Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, Lake Baringo, and Lake Turkana.

These natural water bodies serve as significant sources of water for irrigation. Farmers can extract water directly from these lakes or establish pumping systems to supply water to their fields.

Lakes offer a substantial amount of water and are essential in sustaining agricultural activities across the country.

#4. Boreholes

Boreholes are drilled wells that tap into underground water sources, typically aquifers. Farmers in Kenya often rely on boreholes to access groundwater for irrigation purposes.

By drilling deep into the ground, water can be extracted using pumps or manually drawn. Boreholes provide a reliable source of water, especially in areas where surface water may be limited or during periods of drought.

#5. Ponds

Constructing ponds is an effective way to capture and store rainwater for irrigation. Farmers can create small reservoirs by building barriers or excavating depressions in the ground.

During rainy seasons, these ponds collect and retain water, which can then be used for irrigation during drier periods.

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Ponds offer localized water storage and can be a valuable source for farmers, particularly in areas with inconsistent rainfall patterns.

#6. Wells

Wells are similar to boreholes but are typically shallower and draw water from shallow aquifers or water tables.

They are often manually dug or constructed with concrete rings. Farmers can use wells to access groundwater by using buckets or pumps.

Wells provide a decentralized water source, allowing farmers to establish irrigation systems closer to their fields.

#7. Canals

Canals are artificial waterways that are often connected to rivers, dams, or other water sources.

They are used to divert water and distribute it to agricultural areas. Canals play a vital role in irrigation, particularly in large-scale agricultural projects, by efficiently delivering water to farmers’ fields.

These channels ensure that water reaches crops and can be managed effectively through gates and control structures.

Importance Of Irrigation Schemes In Kenya

As a farmer in Kenya, you understand the vital role that irrigation schemes play in transforming the agricultural landscape. These schemes are of paramount importance for several reasons.

Foremost, irrigation schemes help mitigate the effects of erratic rainfall patterns and prolonged dry seasons, ensuring a consistent water supply for crop cultivation.

By providing controlled and reliable access to water, irrigation schemes contribute to enhanced crop yields, food security, and the overall stability of agricultural production.

Also, irrigation schemes open up new possibilities for diversification and increased productivity. With reliable access to water, you can expand your crop choices and engage in high-value and cash crops that require specific water requirements.

This diversification can lead to increased income and improved livelihoods for farmers across the country.

Not forgetting to mention also that irrigation schemes contribute to the economic development of Kenya.

By boosting agricultural production, these schemes stimulate rural economies, generate employment opportunities, and support agribusinesses along the value chain.

The increased availability of locally grown produce can also reduce the country’s reliance on food imports, promoting self-sufficiency and reducing the vulnerability to external factors.

Benefits Of Irrigation Schemes In Kenya

As a farmer benefiting from irrigation schemes in Kenya, you experience numerous advantages that positively impact your farming endeavors.

To mention first, irrigation allows you to have greater control over water management, ensuring optimal use and minimizing wastage.

By using efficient irrigation techniques like drip or sprinkler systems, you can precisely deliver water to your crops, reducing water consumption and conserving this precious resource.

Notably, irrigation schemes enable you to extend the growing season beyond the limitations of rainfall patterns.

With access to water throughout the year, you can practice multiple cropping, grow crops during the dry season, and maximize your land’s potential productivity.

Also, irrigation schemes also enhance crop quality and quantity. With a reliable water supply, you can provide adequate moisture to your crops, preventing water stress and promoting healthy growth.

This, in turn, leads to increased yields, improved crop quality, and better market value for your produce.

Furthermore, irrigation schemes contribute to improved food security at the national level. By stabilizing crop production and reducing dependence on rain-fed agriculture, these schemes ensure a consistent supply of nutritious food to meet the growing population’s needs.

This not only supports local consumption but also creates opportunities for agricultural exports, contributing to Kenya’s economy.

Impact Of Irrigation Schemes In Kenya

As a farmer benefiting from irrigation schemes in Kenya, you have witnessed the significant impact they have on agricultural practices and livelihoods.

These schemes have revolutionized farming by providing a reliable and controlled water supply. This has resulted in increased crop yields, improved crop quality, and enhanced agricultural productivity.

With irrigation, you are able to cultivate crops throughout the year, reducing the risk of crop failure due to unpredictable rainfall patterns.

Also, irrigation schemes have contributed to the diversification of crops and farming systems. With access to water, you can engage in multiple cropping, grow high-value crops, and adopt advanced agricultural practices such as greenhouse farming.

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This diversification allows you to explore new markets, increase your income, and improve your overall economic well-being.

Irrigation schemes have had a positive social impact in Kenya. By supporting increased agricultural production, these schemes have created employment opportunities, reducing rural poverty and contributing to the overall development of farming communities.

The availability of locally grown produce also promotes food security, ensuring access to nutritious food for the population.

Limitations Facing Irrigation Schemes In Kenya

Despite their numerous benefits, irrigation schemes in Kenya also face certain limitations that need to be addressed.

One major challenge is the high upfront cost of establishing and maintaining irrigation infrastructure.

As a farmer, you may face financial constraints in acquiring the necessary equipment, such as pumps, pipes, and irrigation systems.

The cost of water may also pose a financial burden, especially in areas where water resources are scarce.

Another limitation is the proper management of water resources. Efficient water management is crucial to avoid water wastage, soil erosion, and waterlogging.

It requires knowledge, training, and monitoring systems to ensure optimal water use and distribution.

Limited technical expertise and inadequate maintenance of irrigation infrastructure can hinder the effectiveness of these schemes.

Furthermore, climate change and unpredictable weather patterns pose challenges to irrigation schemes.

Droughts, floods, and changes in precipitation patterns can affect water availability and disrupt irrigation operations.

Adapting irrigation systems to the changing climate and implementing water conservation measures become essential in overcoming these challenges.

Inadequate access to credit and support services can hinder the expansion and sustainability of irrigation schemes.

Access to affordable credit for infrastructure development, training programs, and extension services can empower farmers to optimize the benefits of irrigation schemes.

Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme

The Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme is a flagship agricultural project in Kenya located in the Tana River County. It covers an expansive area of about 1.75 million acres.

The scheme aims to promote large-scale commercial farming by utilizing the water resources of the Tana River. It focuses on cultivating various crops such as maize, sorghum, green grams, and fruits.

The project seeks to boost food security, create employment opportunities, and enhance economic development in the region.

Bura Irrigation Scheme

The Bura Irrigation Scheme is situated in the Tana River County, covering an area of approximately 10,000 hectares. It primarily relies on water from River Tana for irrigation.

The scheme supports the cultivation of various crops, including rice, cotton, maize, and horticultural crops.

The Bura Irrigation Scheme plays a significant role in enhancing agricultural productivity, providing livelihood opportunities, and improving the socio-economic conditions of the local communities.

Tana Irrigation Scheme

The Tana Irrigation Scheme is one of the oldest and largest irrigation projects in Kenya. It is located along the banks of the Tana River and covers an area of around 60,000 hectares.

The scheme uses water from the Tana River to irrigate crops such as rice, sugarcane, and vegetables.

The Tana Irrigation Scheme contributes significantly to the country’s agricultural sector by increasing crop production, ensuring food security, and supporting the local economy.

Ahero Irrigation Scheme

The Ahero Irrigation Scheme is situated in Ahero, Kisumu County, in western Kenya. It covers an area of approximately 6,000 hectares.

The scheme utilizes water from the River Nyando and supports the cultivation of rice and horticultural crops.

Ahero Irrigation Scheme plays a crucial role in boosting agricultural production, improving farmers’ incomes, and contributing to the region’s food security.

West Kano Irrigation Scheme

The West Kano Irrigation Scheme is located in the Nandi County of western Kenya. It covers an area of around 6,000 hectares and primarily focuses on sugarcane cultivation.

The scheme utilizes water from the Nzoia River and provides irrigation infrastructure and support services to farmers.

The West Kano Irrigation Scheme plays a vital role in supporting the sugar industry, creating employment opportunities, and fostering economic development in the region.

These irrigation schemes in Kenya demonstrate the country’s commitment to harnessing water resources for agricultural development, enhancing food security, and improving livelihoods for farmers and local communities.


The diverse and impressive irrigation schemes in Kenya have played a crucial role in revolutionizing the agricultural sector. Through sustainable water management and innovative projects, Kenya continues to enhance food security and drive economic growth.

These irrigation initiatives stand as shining examples of the country’s commitment to harnessing the power of water resources for a brighter and more prosperous future.

Author: David

David is a Kenyan farmer from the rural village of Nairobi. Growing up, he was surrounded by the beauty of the Kenyan countryside, which sparked his passion for farming. After completing his education, he decided to pursue a career in agriculture and has since dedicated his life to providing food for his local community. David is an experienced farmer and is experienced in a range of agricultural practices, including crop rotation, animal husbandry and soil management. He is passionate about promoting sustainable agriculture and is actively working to reduce food insecurity in his community.

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