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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

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Relevant Resources

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