Background Information

The scheme was started as a detention camp for Mau Mau detainees during the height of the state of emergency. In order to establish whether rice crop could be cultivated, the colonial government carried out the first rice trials (research) in 1953. This was mainly because the whole scheme area was then used as a common grazing ground and hence there was need to set up trials in order to determine the viability of rice crop production in the area. The trials yielded positive results and in 1954 actual rice growing started in Tebere section with an area of 65 acres, picking momentum in 1956 and growing to 2478 acres in 1960.


Statistical Data


Kirinyaga County, Mwea East and West Sub-counties


Year of establishment



Gazetted area



Area under Irrigation

26,000 (22,000 acres in the main scheme & 4,000 acres in the out-growers)


Source of irrigation water

Rivers Nyamidi and Thiba


No. of households/farmers



Type of Irrigation

Conveyance System: - Partially lined canal

Distribution System: - Earthen Canals

Application System: - Basin/flood Irrigation


Main crop

Basmati 370 Rice


Other crops

Tomatoes, onions, French Beans, Maize and other horticultural crops


Current Status

The scheme is currently run under the participatory irrigation management approach with NIB being responsible for the primary and secondary infrastructure while the farmers are responsible for the tertiary infrastructure. Other key roles played by NIB in the scheme include land administration, capacity building, irrigation expansion and rehabilitation of the irrigation infrastructure.

Key farmers organizations in the scheme include Mwea Irrigation Water Users Association (IWUA), Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose (MRGM), Lainisha SACCO and the scheme advisory committee.


Projected Benefits/ Benefits being realized

·         Increased employment;

·         Improved food security;

·         Saving on foreign exchange;

·         Increased health benefits mainly through improved sanitation due to better access to water;

·         Positive  impact on poverty reduction as a result of increased productivity and increased employment opportunities;

·         Control of Flooding;

·         Improved benefits accruing from water use for rural domestic and livestock purposes and

·         Increased groundwater recharge and subsequently reduction in opportunity costs of water uses.



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