Background of TARDA

The Tana and Athi River Basins are one of the country’s most unique natural resources. The Basin has exceptional resource values that include; water, arable land, forests, wildlife, minerals among other natural resources. This presents an excellent opportunity for the country to advance socio-economic development by utilizing the natural resources within the river basins. In order to optimize the utilization, there was need to sustainably plan and develop the resources using an integrated approach. The Government therefore, in the mid 1970’s adopted a river-based development approach modeled along the successful story of Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States.

In 1974, the Tana River Development Authority (TRDA) was established by an Act of Parliament CAP 443 of the Laws of Kenya. The functions and responsibilities of the Authority encompassed integrated planning and coordination of all development projects within the Tana River Basin and specifically to implement any projects for the purpose of utilization and protection of water and soils of the area. In 1981, this mandate was expanded to include the Athi River Basin. This therefore widened the scope to Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) moving away from the one dimensional goal approach of “power only development” advocated by TRDA and embraced the multipurpose reservoir development approach. Therefore, the focus of the Authority then included; Hydro-power generation, environmental protection, natural resource planning and management, economic development for rural areas to reduce regional disparities.

Geographical location

TARDA’s area of jurisdiction covers approximately 138,000km2, comprising 100,000km2 of the Tana Basin and 38,000 km2 of the Athi Basin. This area is about 25% of the total land mass of Kenya and traverses some nineteen (19) counties. These are: Embu, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Lamu, Machakos, Makueni, Murang’a, Nyeri, Tana River, Tharaka-Nithi, Garissa, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Isiolo, Nyandarua, Meru and Nairobi. Out of these, five (5) county government areas of Isiolo, Nyandarua, Garissa, Taita-Taveta and Kilifi are partly covered with the other fourteen (14) County Governments areas fully covered. These Counties have a combined population of 20,454,615 million or 39% of national population as at 2019 according to Kenya Population and Housing census.


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