National Parks and World Heritage Sites

Using The Seven Forks of Tana River To Make Water Climb Mountains

River Tana

Several decades ago a survey was conducted on the confluence of Tana River.

Tana is Kenya’s longest River and pumps billions of liters of water that flows into the Indian Ocean every year, regardless of weather.

From the study, an idea was developed to tame the might river.

First it was to regulate the flow and create opportunities for multiple uses of the water.

Tana River should be tapped to provide water for domestic supply, agriculture and livestock keeping, fishing industry, hydro-electric power production and eco-tourism. 

More extensive and comprehensive surveys and studies identified seven sites where dams could be built in order to realize the desired objectives.

The potential areas that were identified include Kamburu, Kindaruma, Gitaru, Karura, Kiambere, Kora and Adamson’s Falls.

The massive venture was christened ‘The Seven Forks Hydro-electric Programme!’

As it happens, Planning, financing and implementation used to be very respected processes and procedures those days, unlike the hat and rabbit magic gags of today.

Decision was made to start with the smallest dam, Kindaruma, with others to follow in sequence.

By 1980 three projects had been completed and these were Kindaruma, Gitaru and Kamburu.

However the Tana flows were not yet tamed and inhabitants of the lower Tana continued to suffer floods every rainy season.

It is this natural phenomenon that informed the construction of Masinga Dam, specifically to create a reservoir that would hold enough water to sustain the smaller reservoirs downstream during extended drought situations and meat other basic needs.

Masinga Dam

Indeed, Masinga Dam did not disappoint for upon impounding a lake holding some 1.5 billion cubic metres of water was created in a 45 kilometre stretch from the wall to Tana Bridge along Kenol-Sagana road.

So huge is the manmade lake that it can be observed from outer space.

Masinga was not an additional fork in the ‘Seven Forks’ series, but rather the killer of that myth.

And neither was the spectacular Kiambere Dam that followed shortly after commissioning of power generation at Masinga, and swallowed up the Karura site upon filling up in 1988.