Multipurpose projects are projects that serve more than one purpose, they are also called river development projects and help in the economic development of the country. Most of them are located along the course of river Tana. River Tana projects are also called the seven folks project because seven projects were proposed along the river.
The projects include; Masinga, Kindaruma, Kiambere, Gaturu, Kamburu, Mutonga and Grand falls. They were established mainly to provide hydro electric power, to control flooding in the lower Tana basin and to increase food production through irrigation of crops. Before their establishment, Kenya used to rely on power from the Owen falls hydroelectric power station in at jinja in Uganda.
Kindaruma was the first to be completed in the year 1968 with power production of approximately 40mw,the dams power production is managed by Kengen company which is in charge of production of power then it sells it to Kenya Power and Lighting company for distribution to the national grid. Kamburu was second completed in 1977 to produce approximately 94mw followed by Gitaru power station which uses water from underground tunnels of Kamburu dam and was completed in 1980. Masinga dam was completed in 1986 and Kiambere in the late 80s. Mutonga and Grand falls have not been completed.
Benefits of the Tana projects are numerous, for instance the dams have helped to control flooding of the river Tana which used to affect the area and lead to the displacement of people and loss of property as well as increased waterborne diseases.
Inland fishing grounds especially on the dams at Masinga and Kiambere have also been created to supplement the agricultural activities such as crop farming in the area. The construction of the dams has also created beautiful scenery which attracts both local and foreign tourists. Students from schools visit these areas annually to learn about the activities that take place in the dams during production of power.
The projects also save Kenyans a lot of money which would have been used to import electricity from neighboring countries, the money is put into alternative projects instead. Electricity for both industrial and domestic use is cheaper and readily available for effective running of engines to improve on production hence expansion of Kenyan industries.
There is increased food production through irrigation hence better use of less productive land that would have otherwise been left bare and not utilized for constructive purposes. Many Kenyans have also been attracted to settle in these areas.
We can therefore see and appreciate that the multipurpose river projects in Kenya have led to creation of more benefits to the country which is struggling to improve on food security and industrialization so as to achieve vision 2030.