Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund (UTNWF)
Country Contacts

Fred Kihara -

Anthony Kariuki -


Being an integral part of the Resilient Food Systems programme, UTNWF will contribute to the collective impact of this programme, which is intended to inform approaches to food security in the drylands of sub-saharan Africa towards win-win solutions between food production and maintaining ecosystem services in the face of anticipated climate shocks.



The proposed Child Project aims for a well-conserved Upper Tana River basin with improved water quality and quantity for upstream and downstream users, maintaining regular flows of water throughout the year and enhancing ecosystem services.

GEF Grant US $7.2M
Co-Financing US $61.05M


Forests and wetlands in the project target area (Upper Tana) play an important role in maintaining water quality and quantity, providing areas where runoff water and sediment can be stored and filtered naturally. However, due to the significant growth of the agriculture sector in the area, sedimentation has been a key consequence, reducing the capacity of reservoirs and increasing the cost of water treatment. The challenges to water security will likely increase as climate change brings unpredictable rainfall, equally challenging the resilience and food security of upstream smallholder farming systems.


The project is structured around three principal components, seeking to (i) institutionalize the Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund (UTNWF) Platform for policy development and institutional reform, and develop incentives for climate-smart smallholder agriculture; (ii) enable the adoption of sustainable land management practices in the Upper Tana catchment ecosystems; and (iii) develop the requisite institutional and technical capacities for effective monitoring and assessment of global environmental benefits and resilience. Cross-cutting aspects related to value chains, capacity building and knowledge management will be further strengthened through direct support from the regional “Hub” project.


Land under integrated and sustainable management (M ha.) 1,000,000
GHG emissions avoided or reduced (CO2e) 1,600,000
Genetic diversity of crops and animals maintained or increased (%) 15 - 25
Land cover (increase, %) TBD


The UTNWF will be developed as 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. A total 21,000 smallholder farmer households will be directly engaged as beneficiaries.


The proposed Child Project is consistent with the overall goal and theory of change of the food security IAP, and it draws on IFAD's successful, past investments in the Upper Tana catchment. The project will enable the establishment of a first-of-a-kind water fund in Africa and will, therefore, contribute valuable lessons to other countries facing similar challenges related to the food, water and agriculture nexus. With strong private sector support from the outset, the project is expected to have major catalytic effects well beyond its completion. The UTNWF project will work with public and private sector partners to establish the Water Fund as a sustainable financing mechanism to support integrated natural resource management approaches in the Upper Tana catchment. Through its network of public agencies, NGOs and Community-Based Organisations, the project will support smallholder farmers to adopt climate-smart practices, with the aim to increase food security and climate adaptation potential at household level, to stabilise and restore ecosystem services of the targeted area and to improve water quality and quantity for both upstream and downstream water users.


Through the UTNWK interventions, financial, in kind and technical support will be provided to allow 21,000 smallholder farmer households to adopt climate-smart practices, leading to improved food security, climate change adaptation and resilience capabilities. Each project component aims to meet the following targets:

Water fund management platform institutionalised.

Multistakeholder and multiscale platform supports policy development, institutional reform and upscaling of integrated natural resource management. Policies and incentives support climate-smart smallholder agriculture and food value chains in sustainable watershed stewardship.

Improved Upper Tana catchment ecosystems that support livelihoods, food security and economic development.

Sustainable land management implemented on 337,000 hectares of land.

Robust knowledge management and learning systems implemented to direct UTNWF management and share lessons both nationally and regionally.

Institutions capacitated to monitor Global Environmental Benefits. M&A framework supports the integration of climate resilience into policymaking. Facilitation of knowledge management and sharing of lessons learned.