The story of Kibagare River

kibagare river leading into sunken garden

One of the most distinct features of City Park is the 2.5Km river which crosses the Park, Kibagare River. The total length of Kibagare River from its source to the point where it drains into Mathare River is 23 Km. People who visited the Park at its prime always recall stories of how they used to swim in the river. The present day state of the river will not see anyone rush to take a dive much less get close to Kibagare River, within City Park. Which is really sad considering City Park offers Nairobi’s residents a chance to interact with one of Nairobi River’s tributary in a safe and tranquil urban green space.

Section of Kibagare River within City Park

FoCP in its journey of protecting and restoring a beautiful Park for future generations sought a sustainable and permanent, way to restore Kibagare River by partnering with Revive Solutions Ltd. that created a Design for the Restoration of the section of Kibagare River within City Park, based on data collected.

Their studies answered the questions below on the quality of the river’s water and river bed.

What Ails the River?

Kibagare River has over the years been polluted by raw sewage and carelessly discarded solid waste. The study established that there were two major sewer bursts (one upstream and another one downstream of the Park) and several solid waste heaps within the River. The Sewer bursts were repaired in 2018 when Athi River Water Works facilitated the construction of River Kibagare Trunk Sewer.

Kibagare River as it enters City Park

Reports from City Park’s concerned stakeholders revealed that the sewer line did help but only for two months then the river returned to the same sad state. An investigative walk of Revive Solutions Ltd and FoCP staff, on 28/09/2021 revealed newly built illegal connections of apartment blocks upstream along Kibagare River dumping their waste water into the river.


The water entering Kibagare River is scattered with plastic bottles and other forms of litter. The ban on plastics bags has clearly helped ease the river’s pollution although installing screens across specific sections of the river, which can be cleaned at least once a month, will help tremendously.

Water Quality

The results indicate contamination of the River by inadequately treated effluent.. There were unacceptable levels of organic matter which consumes oxygen thereby reducing the oxygen available to sustain aquatic life.

Image of how BOD affect aquatic life [photo:]

The Canals

Removal or partial removal of the concrete forming the River canal would not only facilitate the planting and thriving of remedial aquatic plants but will also allow natural flow of the water leading to rapid mixing hence oxygenation of the water and also allow filtration which in turn improves the water quality.

A canalized section of Kibagare River in City Park

The goal of the restoration of Kibagare River within City Park is not only for the River water to leave the Park cleaner than it entered, but to provide an urban green space aquatic feature to the residents of Nairobi which is a rare sight. Once City Park’s Kibagare River can be restored, it can serve as an example of what can be done to restore other sections of Nairobi’s rivers.

by: Karimi Kimathi

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