Small-scale farmers are perennially frustrated by unreliable rain and drying rivers yet they can get constant water supply from a borehole in less than 45 days.
Although there are no exact statistics showing cumulative losses for livestock and crop farmers, farm input investment year in year out is consumed by drought.
Last year, the Government announced that more than 1.1 million people were vulnerable to famine after rains failed to support crop and livestock in most parts of Kenya. As a result, the cost of living shot up.
For those who want to drill out water from the ground for all-year-round farming, Borehole Masters is one of the companies to consult.
The Technical Director of the company, Joseph Kioi, says it will cost between Sh1.7 million and Sh2 million for one to start tapping water from a borehole for household and farm use.
The company's hydro-technicians first carry out a hydrological-geological survey to help them understand the type of soils and arrangement of rocks if any. "This takes about seven days," Kioi said.
After the survey, the technicians write a report on environmental impact assessment that will be submitted to National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) for approval of the borehole project at a cost of Sh45,000.
Together with Water Resource Management Authority, a permit will be issued between 21 and 30 days.
“These two agencies must be convinced that the project will be sustainable, while benefiting the owners and society. They can approve or disapprove based on their analysis of the report,” Kioi, who doubles up as the borehole projects manager, said.
The cost of drilling varies from region to region, depending on the soil stability.
"The cost per metre is higher in areas with weaker soils because more work will result from collapsing of the hole walls during drilling."
In Nairobi for instance, one will pay Sh6,500 per metre while someone in Garissa will pay Sh21,000 per metre.
In Machakos County, one will pay is Sh6,800 per metre, even as those in Kitui and most Western, Rift Valley and Nyanza regions pay an average of Sh7,800 per metre.
“This amount will cater for casing and piping of the case, chemical analysis of water to determine usability, statutory tax (Value Added Tax), among other miscellaneous items,” Kioi says
In Nairobi, sufficient water will be available from 250-350 metres. In Machakos' Ruai, from 100 metres.
For this reason, the company gives room for negotiations with clients.
Installation of a pump, water pipes and metres and other equipment for a borehole of 195 metres can cost up to Sh680,000, the technician said.
In this case, a pump pushing 2,000 litres per hour is installed after a 24-hour testing of the consistency of water flow. Drilling and equipment installation takes a maximum of two weeks.
Borehole Masters provides customer support for up to three months after installation.
An idea of partnering with financial institutions to fund borehole project is at conception stage, Kioi says.
Although there are no timelines set, this programme would help small-holder farmers who cannot raise the monies needed to sink boreholes at one go.