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Project Name

Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund (UTNWF)

GEF Implementing Agency



To achieve a well-conserved Tana River basin with improved water quality and adequate quantities for downstream users, and strong benefits to agricultural communities in the source watershed.


Fred Kihara


Anthony Kariuki


Project Targets

45,000 ha

land under integrated and sustainable management

1,646,000 MtCO2e

GHG emissions avoided or reduced


beneficiary households




Stakeholders engaged

Forests and wetlands in the Upper Tana River Basin project target area play an important role in maintaining water quality and quantity by storing and filtering runoff water. However, the growth of the agriculture sector in the area has resulted in an increase in soil erosion and sedimentation. This has reduced the capacity of reservoirs and increased the cost of water treatment. The challenges to water security will likely increase as climate change brings unpredictable rainfall, which threatens the resilience and food security of upstream smallholder farming systems.  

The project is establishing a first-of-its-kind water fund in Africa. Through the project’s network of public agencies, NGOs, Community-Based Organisations, and private sector actors, the UTNWF is supporting smallholder farmers in rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, and the adoption of climate-smart farming practices. 

The project is structured around three principal components: 

  1. Institutionalising the UTNWF Platform for policy development and institutional reform, and develop incentives for climate-smart smallholder agriculture;
  2. Enabling the adoption of Sustainable Land Management practices in the Upper Tana catchment ecosystems; and
  3. Developing the necessary institutional and technical capacities for effective monitoring and assessment.   

Support is being provided to 21,000 smallholder farmer households in the adoption of climate-smart practices, leading to improved food security, climate change adaptation and resilience capabilities. 

 The project aims to meet the following targets: 

UTNWF Platform institutionalised for policy development and institutional reform.

  • Establish multi-stakeholder and multiscale platforms that support policy development, institutional reform and upscaling of integrated natural resource management.
  • Introduce policies and incentives to support climate-smart smallholder agriculture and food value chains in sustainable watershed stewardships. 

Improved Upper Tana catchment ecosystems that support livelihoods, food security and economic development.

  • Implement Sustainable Land Management on 337,000 ha of land.
  • Support 18,000 smallholder farmers through development of water pans, storing water for irrigating crops during the dry season and reducing the amount of water being abstracted from Nairobi’s source water rivers.
  • Support 3,000 rural families through drip irrigation, cutting water usage by an estimated 50%, resulting in higher production, water savings, and healthier rivers. 

Robust knowledge management and learning systems implemented to direct UTNWF management and share lessons both nationally and regionally.

  • Build capacity in institutions for monitoring Global Environmental Benefits.
  • Establish a Monitoring and Assessment framework to support the integration of climate resilience into policymaking.
  • Facilitate knowledge management and sharing of lessons learned. 

The UTNWF is a multi-stakeholder platform involving public and private sector entities. Key stakeholders from government include the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, National Museums of Kenya, Water Resources Management Authority, and Kenya Forest Services. The Nature Conservancy is a technical partner, while private sector entities include the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company. The project is also closely engaging with county governments and research institutions, including Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and National Museums of Kenya (NMK). 

Project Activities

Each RFS country project conducts activities that fall under common thematic areas within the programme. Explore each project theme relevant to the RFS Kenya country project below to see which activities are being implemented under each theme.

Stories from the Field

Explore our stories from the field to learn more about the activities, milestones, lessons learned, and achievements of the RFS Kenya project.

Relevant Resources

We have a growing library of reports, briefs, case studies, media, tools and guidelines. Explore all resources related to the RFS Kenya project to get greater insight into our programme activities.

  • Onto the farm, into the home: How intrahousehold gender dynamics shape land restoration in Eastern Kenya

    05 July 2022


    While attention has been paid largely to forest restoration, meeting global land restoration pledges will require scaling-up restoration of ecosystem services on agricultural land. This paper contributes to the literature on restoration practice and agricultural technology adoption, by shifting the focus onto the farm and considering the role of intrahousehold dynamics in the uptake of farmland restoration practices. We examine the intrahousehold decisions and gender relations surrounding the trial of two on-farm restoration practices: tree planting and planting basins; with over 2,500 farmers in the eastern drylands of Kenya. Combining results from household surveys, interviews and focus group discussions, our findings reveal that decisions over the uptake of restoration practices, although usually initiated by women who attend agricultural workshops, are often discussed between husband and wife and that multiple social dimensions intersect to shape men’s and women’s interest in, contribution to, and benefit from different practices. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that these intrahousehold relations are, in turn, shaped by women’s participation in innovation processes and broader societal changes, particularly the outmigration of rural men. Based on these insights, we offer recommendations for improving the dissemination and uptake of on-farm restoration practices in eastern Kenya and achieving more inclusive and gender-equitable outcomes.

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    Case Study: Advocacy in Kenya

    23 November 2021

    This presentation was given during the event Advocating for Resilient Food Systems on November 23rd, 2021. 

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    Country Project Update: Kenya

    11 October 2021

    The RFS Kenya project is combating sedimentation in the Tana River by facilitating climate-smart smallholder agriculture. During the 2021 country roundtable, Conservation Programme Manager Anthony Kariuki, and M&E Officer John Gathagu provided an update on the project’s activities, achievements, challenges and lessons learned. The presentation was followed by a facilitated Q&A session to allow country project and RFS partners a chance to exchange information and learn more about RFS activities in Kenya.

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